Competitive Exhibitor Spotlight

The Competitive Exhibits Exhibitor Spotlight features Wisconsin State Fair exhibitors who have participated at Wisconsin State Fair for at least 10 years or more.

The Competitive Exhibits department showcases the award-winning entries of amateurs in the areas of culinary, horticulture, photography, quilting, textiles, and crafts.

Check out the spotlights below from these DIY connoisseurs on what they like best about entering their creations in Wisconsin State Fair competitions!

Culinary Judging at Wisconsin State Fair

Culinary Exhibitors

Darlene Becker
Muskego, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
54 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary, Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
It’s a great way to see the same friends every year.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
In 1994 I won first in the Spam class and first in the Fleischmann’s yeast bread class on the same day.

Diane Bergschneider
Bayside, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
11 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
I have so much fun in the Culinary competition at the Fair and I have accrued some 72 ribbons in the 11 years I competed.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I so enjoy the camaraderie of the competitors and Fair organizers.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
My favorite Fair memory is seeing the many varied culinary entries and I am always in awe as it’s my inspiration to keep involved by competing and doing better at Wisconsin State Fair .

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
When I go to the Fair, a must for me is to enjoy a bratwurst..the aromas draw me to the BBQs there! Of course a ‘cold one’ pairs very well!

Beth Campbell
Belleville, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
20 ish Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Two

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
I come back to Wisconsin State Fair every year to see my fellow fair family, what they have created and to use my culinary skills to make/exhibit things I might not otherwise try. I usually use products/recipes/ideas that I wouldn’t ordinarily try at home.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I would like Fairgoers to know that we competitors work hard to make creations that you will enjoy looking at in Grand Champion Hall.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
My favorite memories are seeing people every year and finally winning the SPAM contest after years of entering.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Every year we go eat the Gator Tators, attend the We Energies cooking show and visit the Wisconsin Products Pavilion.

Cindy Chamberlain
Franklin, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
31 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Two

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
Wisconsin State Fair itself. We always attend 4 or 5 times every year and see something new on each visit. Also winning in the culinary competitions year after year is also exciting.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
The items I enter into the competition are my Mother and Grandmothers’ recipes. They mean a lot to me since my Mom and Grandma are no longer with us and I grew up making the recipes with them.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
My most unforgettable memory was winning first place and best of division for my chocolate cherry mousse torte in 2018 against talented exhibitors.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Enjoy all the new delicious food choices, and I always need to have a cream puff and ice cream sundae from the Wisconsin Products Pavilion.

Linda Gottlieb
Port Washington, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
33 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Two

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
I absolutely love the family camaraderie during judging, competing and just attending Wisconsin State Fair. Everyone is so happy, down to earth and full of life. Could it be the food?

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
Since 1987 I have won 389 ribbons (1st-4th place) in the Culinary competitions at Wisconsin State Fair, which are prominently displayed in my kitchen. Although yeast baking is my specialty, I enjoy all kinds of cooking/baking.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
When I was 15 I got separated from my sisters at Wisconsin State Fair. With $5 spending money and just myself, I had the best time ever!! Another favorite memory was winning my first ribbon in 1987!

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Besides entering competitions, I attend Wisconsin State Fair 5-6 times annually and each visit is totally different depending on who I’m with: my husband, kids/grandkids, extended family, friends or just  by myself. Each visit is a unique experience!

Laura Hall
New Berlin, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
34 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Two

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary, Textile and Craft

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
Competing and seeing entries keeps me returning.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
My family members LOVE seeing their outfits on display.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
I am proudest of my 1st blue ribbon in 1990 for my daughter’s Christening dress and her winning her 1st blue ribbon and sewing machine in 2000.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
I love it all!

Dawn Heller
Milwaukee, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
12 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Two

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary, Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
To see other exhibitors.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
They are functional and I learned from my great grandmother.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
When I received blue ribbons and best of division on both afghans I entered in the same year.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
See the animals and how my items are displayed in Grand Champion Hall.

Teresa Herbst
Greendale, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
24 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary, Textiles and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
The people, new items, judges comments, excitement of children seeing their entries displayed, smelling the barns mingled with aromas of funnel cakes, seeing what others have entered and getting ideas for the next year.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
My textiles and crafts entries are the memories of the person it’s for. The food I make brings friends together, some who have never met. As I watch them taste the food, I see new friendships forming.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
In 2015 my husband passed on July 10. He was the reason I entered State Fair in 1995, so I knew I had to go through with the judging. It was very difficult but I am so glad I did.  I entered a breakfast cake name a Bacapple cake. It did not win a blue ribbon but the judges gave it a Judges Favorite ribbon.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Walking the entire Fair grounds starting at 8 am with an omelette from the Wisconsin Product Pavilion and ending with a funnel cake at 10 pm after enjoying the Clydesdale horse judging in the Case IH Coliseum. Listening to the sales pitches in the Exposition Center with the newest invention that no one can live without, and yes sometimes actually buying what they were selling. Watching the exhibitors shear the sheep to make them presentable to the judges. Learning how to spin the wool into yarn and being mesmerized with how nimble their fingers are. Hearing the carnival employees try to get people to play the games. Watching the parents with their kids on a ride for the first time – kids crying and parents trying to get that ‘perfect’ picture. And lastly, getting to the car after 14 hours of walking, looking, hearing, watching, eating and wondering how this year’s experience can be topped – but somehow next year’s Wisconsin State Fair will top this one.

Linda Lilly
Milwaukee, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
25 plus Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Two

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
The fair brings us back to our roots…what this country was started on. Seeing my friends each year and the competition.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
It’s rewarding, challenging, sometimes disappointing, a great deal of hard work and requires a week of sleep when it’s over.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
Most of my peer competitors are famous for their years of winning ribbons and I am in awe of them. When I win a ribbon, I consider myself lucky to be part of this amazing group.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Have a cream puff, stop at Rupena’s to eat and look at all the entries in Grand Champion Hall.

Bonnie Papala
Cudahy, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
36 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Three

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
I love the friendly competition with my State Fair Friends and catching up on what they have done over the last year. I also enjoy competing against my husband, who is a great baker.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I love the challenge of creating recipes for each Fair Theme. My specialties are savory entries with a flair for creativity. Like my husband, I rarely practice my recipes before I make them for competition!

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
Winning a Nationally sponsored Parent/Child contest for yeast breads with my oldest daughter and seeing all my daughters compete as well as winning numerous competitions sponsored by Wisconsin and National organizations and companies over the years.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Just like my husband, I attend the Culinary Competitions, eat a cream puff, baked potato, corn on the cob, deep fried cheese on a stick, walk through the Wisconsin Products Pavilion and animal barns.

James Papala
Cudahy, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
36 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Two

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
The thrill of hearing the judge call out my exhibitor number and talking about my entry. Also, the friendly competition and “family” of fellow exhibitors we see each year, catching up on the latest news.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I love making traditional family-favorite recipes, and the challenge of new Wisconsin State Fair Theme inspired recipes. My specialties are pies and cakes. I rarely “practice” my recipes before I make them for competition!

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
My oldest daughter winning both the Wisconsin and National Award sponsored by a flour company when she was 12 and winning numerous competitions sponsored by Wisconsin and National organizations and companies over the years.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
I attend the Culinary competitions, eat a cream puff, baked potato, corn on the cob, deep fried cheese on a stick, walk through the Wisconsin Products Pavilion and animal barns. I love Wisconsin State Fair!

Phyllis Resop
Brookfield, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
11 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary, Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
Going to the fair every year is an annual event for our family. In 2019, my first grandchild, 2 months old, went with us. We all have our favorite things to see and do.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
Every year, my goal is to be more creative than the previous year. Keeping up with the talented competition challenges me to go out of my comfort zone and choose more intricate designs.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
As a child, I remember going to the fair with my parents and shaking hands with William Proxmire. I had no idea who he was but he was nice and there were lots of flowers.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
We go to the Horse Barn and see those magnificent animals every year. We also love the baked potatoes and watch the Kids from Wisconsin.

Lois Trongard
Pewaukee, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
25 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Three

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
I love the competitions, the food and various things you can do at Wisconsin State Fair. For myself and my family it’s the best time of the summer. My grandchildren love the animals and Spin City. Wisconsin State Fair reminds me of days gone past when life was simpler and brings me back to the joyful days of my youth.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
My items are created to showcase Wisconsin products and pride in our State Fair. I research and create all year to get ready for the competition and some of my best products I have competed with have been developed on the fly. This happened when I won the Dole competition.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
I have two: when I won Culinary Queen of Wisconsin State Fair and when I won the first Dole competition.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Every year at Wisconsin State Fair I love to go in to Exposition Center to investigate new items that I might be able to use in new culinary dishes.

Dawn Zastrow
Colorado Springs, CO

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
51 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Four

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
Friends, food and fun. I started entering as a child with my grandma and mother.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I exhibit in the Culinary department with different entries every year that challenge me but are also fun to make. The most important thing is that they’re delicious to eat! When my husband and I moved out of state in 2014, I always scheduled a visit to see my family around Wisconsin State Fair time and continued to enter.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
I won a 4th place ribbon in a big cookie category my very first year of entering with my grandma and mom cheering me on. In 1980 I won the Archway cookie contest out of 89 entries. I presented my cookies to singer, Kenny Rogers and had press seating at his concert. Archway also sold cookies from my winning recipe later that year. Last year, which was my 50th conservative year of entering the culinary contests, I won a 4th place ribbon in a difficult to win cranberry category. I think I was more excited to win a 4th place ribbon on my 50th year than a blue ribbon; only because that’s how it all began, with an exciting 4th place ribbon!

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Every year during the culinary competitions, I reunite with my wonderful Fair friends that I only see once a year. We share stories, cheer each other on, laugh, eat and just have a great time while watching the judging.

Horticulture Exhibitors

Barb Berner
Dousan, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
19 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Two

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Horticulture, Photography, Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
Exhibiting what I grow.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I put my whole heart and soul into my entries.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
Winning Best Market Day Basket 2019 on the State Fair Logo themed basket.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
The Garden Walk.

Chris Foris
Milwaukee, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
15 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Horticulture, Photography, Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
My fair friends: teasing, laughing and the competitive spirit.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?

I listen to the judges. My family is my muse.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
Winning second place for lemons from the tree my father started from seed.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Eat at the Wisconsin Products Pavilion.

Susan Kelley
Greenfield, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
16 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Horticulture and Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
I love the people I’ve met while exhibiting. I call them my Fair Friends.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
Every year I try to create a recipe using an ingredient I’ve never cooked before.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
My girlfriend and I carried what I hoped would be the tallest sunflower from outside the gates.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Attend Melinda Meyers’ horticulture lecture.

Catherine Price
Big Bend, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
20 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Two

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Horticulture and Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
Competitions! I love to compete in the culinary and horticulture classes, and it’s always a must for my daughter and I to have a Wisconsin State Fair day together … it’s tradition!

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I am an avid canner. I source locally where possible “Farm to Table” … although finding local pineapples in Wisconsin for jam was impossible! Presentation is important and I always strive to make that a priority. Coming from England I was used to the small garden fetes that were held locally, where women could show off their culinary expertise, but that did not set me up for the grand affair the Wisconsin State Fair is. I’m happy to be part of the experience and hope to continue to do this for many more years to come.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
Winning Best in Division in culinary classes two consecutive years, 2018 and 2019, in large and competitive classes.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Everything! Eat (especially cream puffs), see shows, look at animals and walk around the Exposition Center to see what the vendors have; you never know what you’ll find … we try to do it all!

Photography Exhibitors

Diane Bruening
New Berlin, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
19 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Two

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Photography, Quilt, Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
It’s a family event and we love competitions.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I make the items for family members and like to try new categories every year.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
I won a Judge’s Favorite ribbon on a photo and a Staff Favorite ribbon on an embroidered blanket the first year they started offering those awards. I haven’t been able to do that again even with winning 20 ribbons last year. Can’t top that!

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Get a cream puff and take pictures of every item I won an award on with my family.

Gerry Cofta
Milwaukee, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
19 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Two

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Photography, Culinary, Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
Competing and seeing all my Fair baking friends.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I love to bake and Wisconsin State Fair challenges me to be more creative and hone my craft. My favorite entries to make are chocolate confections.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
Winning the Ghirardelli Chocolate Challenge and being featured on a local TV station. Unforgettable is when my dog ate one of my entries.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Have breakfast, visit animals, purchase fun sunglasses and enjoy cream puffs.

Susan Dejna
Greenfield, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
26 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Culinary, Photography, Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
I enjoy seeing all the exhibitors especially in Grand Champion Hall, the 4-H exhibitors, seeing the animals and of course eating a cream puff.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I work very hard making original culinary recipes including using more natural products like honey. I take my time with my cross stitch entries. I’m trying to get my work very accurate and add originality.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
My first entry was in 1994. I competed against 25 people in the oatmeal raisin cookie category with natural ingredients. I took first place! The judge went on and on about how good my cookies were. My mother started to teach me to bake when I was three years old and she was there with me at my first judging and was extremely proud.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
I enjoy all the homemade exhibits, especially the ones that are so creative, try at least one new food product, eat the regular things I enjoy and I take maple syrup cotton candy home.

Jill Drury
Milwaukee, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
13 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Photography and Culinary

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
My family would take me to the Fair every year growing up. Food was always the focus! From cream puffs, cheese curds, fudge cake and grilled cheese, we always came with huge appetites! Wisconsin is a food lovers paradise! Yet, my favorite time was getting to the building with fans (so many hot days!) to look at the judged jams, cakes, photos and flowers. All I wanted to ever do was enter! When I was finally old enough to do the process all by myself, I did and I have never stopped.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
It is so much fun to share your passions with your community and state. My family jam recipes and travel photos that have placed are some of my most cherished accomplishments. There is such joy seeing a ribbon attached to something that has so many happy memories.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
2014 was a great year. I found out the jam and picture we entered won blue ribbons all the way while on vacation in Russia! We made it home just in time for the last day of the Fair! 2019 was pretty great, too, bringing my son to see another blue ribbon winner.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Enjoy being from such a great state and think about what to enter in the Fair next year! Oh…and of course the Giant Slide.

Gary Niebuhr
Milwaukee, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
13 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Photography

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
My parents took me to the Fair in 1954 and minus one year I have been there since.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I was the Wisconsin State Fair Best in Show photography exhibitor in 2009 and 2011.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
My memorable moment is the time my mother asked, “Why don’t you exhibit your photos?”

Quilt Exhibitors

Cheryl Glander
West Bend, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
48 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Two

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Quilt, Culinary, Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
Competition! It is a wonderful memory of my Mother who came to watch judging every year. I started when I was 16 years old and loved the competition.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
The competition helped me grow as a seamstress. I sewed heirloom clothing and strived to be better every year. It was my best work.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
Winning the C & H sugar contest for the best sugar cookie in the State. My daughter witnessed it and I nearly cried!

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Of course, I compete! Also I have to have a cream puff, even if it’s all over my face.

Lolita Lukach

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
25 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Quilts, Culinary, Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
I love the competitions and all the exhibits in Grand Champion Hall. I also enjoy visiting the Wisconsin Products Pavilion and attending the various musical events.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
With few exceptions, the quilted items were all hand quilted – some more intricate than others.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
The year my 80 year old mother won a blue ribbon for a hand crocheted table cloth.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
My first stop is at the Grand Champion Hall to view the quilted and hand crafted items and the culinary exhibits. The next stop is usually the Wisconsin Products Pavilion.

Emily Nie
Beloit, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
11 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Quilts, Textiles and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
It is so much fun at the end of summer

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
It is fun to plan and make things all year and choose the right ones for Wisconsin State Fair.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
The haunted house. When I was a kid my friend’s family would bring me to Wisconsin State Fair. Smokey Bear’s birthday party is a favorite as well.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
We go to the Wisconsin Products Pavilion. So many great things are produced in Wisconsin, especially the food items!

Textile & Craft Exhibitors

Margaret Bernstein
Oshkosh, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
16 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
I come back to see friends, new ideas and learn from both the judges and my fellow exhibitors. Competition, camaraderie and showing crafts that may not have been seen, is habit forming.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
How much fun it is entering the best item you can create, and learning how to do it better the next time. The friendships and rivalries that develop along the way keep it fresh and challenging.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
Friends walking me around the parking lot after winning my first Best in Show ribbon, until my breathing was calm. It was no less exciting winning Best of Awards in beadwork, needlelace, knitting, spinning, weaving and five more in embroidery.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
I enjoy the wonderful maple flavored cotton candy in the Wisconsin Products Pavilion.

Paul Bina
Milwaukee, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
15 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
Participating in the Fine Arts Competition, but also seeing all the other wonderful exhibited items including photography, bakery, flowers, livestock, etc.; plus enjoying all the wonderful food, entertainment, rides, etc. It is a fantastic event.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
All of my exhibited artworks are created based on life experiences I have encountered, observed or imagined. My works are never specific copies of someone else’s works, photos, etc. They are truly my creations.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
My most favorite memory was attending the 2010 Wisconsin State Fair to see one of my exhibited items, ‘Alone On The Beach’, had been awarded my first blue ribbon, and also was selected as Staff Favorite.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Viewing the exhibits in the Grand Champion Hall, enjoying our list of must have foods and new ones, seeing the Clydesdales perform, visiting all the shops and music venues, etc. It’s a great event every year!

Karen Cooley
West Allis, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
30 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Textile and Crafts

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
Most items I exhibit are gifts for family and friends.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
My favorite memory is attending Wisconsin State Fair with family.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
I always visit Grand Champion Hall, Wisconsin Products Pavilion, animal barns and eat cream puffs!

Debe Dannecker
Saint Francis, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
15 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One (with the grandkids to follow next year!)

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Textiles and Craft

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
The opportunity to challenge myself and enter my artwork along with other artists from Wisconsin. To be in the room for judging and being able to see all the wonderful entries is a true thrill for me. It’s a great surprise if you are lucky enough to be awarded a ribbon too!

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
The entries I paint express my love for family, nature, animals and the state I love.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
When my children, grandchildren, and my parents came with my husband and I to the Fair to see my Fair entries which placed that year. I gave the winner to my Mom. She has it hanging in her kitchen to this day! I was super proud.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Pig Races with the kids and grandkids, then grilled cheese, playing in the kids area, going to see the animals and then look at all of the entries in Grand Champion Hall. In exactly that order! It has been our tradition for over ten years. Every year it gets better!!

Barb Froh
Bayside, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
22 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
2

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
I am a city girl so I love to see all the farm animals. I also enjoy watching all the people selling things, buying things and eating things. It feels like a wholesome hug from the entire state.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I spend a lot of time and energy on the Halloween costumes I make. I am just happy to have an audience to share them with.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
One year I won first place in a class and my daughter won first place in a junior class so our two pieces were judged against each other for the grand prize. It was very exciting for us and a win either way.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Eat. I love corn on the cob, baked potatoes and cream puffs but we always have to try something new too. We also have to go see if we can find all our “ribbon” items among the displays.

Jennifer Froh
Bayside, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
11 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Three

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
My family goes every year so I enjoy the tradition of it all. We like seeing some of the same things every year but we enjoy the new things too – especially trying the new foods.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I started competing for fun because it was my mom’s tradition. You could say the creative bug stuck as I just graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a degree in jewelry and metalsmithing.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
I was very happy the year I won a Staff Favorite ribbon for a counted cross stitch piece I made.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
I actually help run a booth in the Central Marketplace that sells chainmaille jewelry. We get to listen to all the great bands on the Bank Mutual stage, like Here Come the Mummies!

Kay Garcia
North Fond du Lac, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
11 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Two

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
It has become a yearly tradition for my kids, grandkids, husband and I to come to Wisconsin State Fair. Competing in the competitions is where it starts, and then we have to come and see our winning items on display, which then leads to seeing the animals, playing some games, a couple of rides for the kids, enjoying some great fair food and a wonderful day together each year.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
I exhibit mostly sewn items made with love for my family and friends. I enjoy surprising others with items that are one of a kind and unique….I think that is where the real value of sewing and creating lies…so most of my entries have come from these unique items. Some of the items I exhibit took many, many hours to make, but a few were created under a time crunch.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
As an exhibitor, my most unforgettable moment was the first time that I won Best of Division with a hand-beaded first communion dress that I had sewn for my daughter’s friend’s daughter, Raegan. Raegan had written me a letter to ask if I would make her first communion dress. She and I collaborated, and I was able to create the perfect dress for her, and that dress won the top honor that year! A few years later, I would win Best of Division for the wedding dress I made for Raegan’s Mom, Cassie.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
We go see the animals and I like to get a cream puff!

Janis Giblin
Oak Creek, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
50 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
Three

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Textiles and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
It is wonderful to know that the entire state is part of the competitions.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
The exhibit items I made over the years are given to people who are special to me. It is nice to know the items also took a State Fair prize!

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
My most unforgettable memory is the fourth place ribbon I won for a green robe as a young girl in 1970. That started my long term love for the Fair competitions.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Every year I enter the Textile & Crafts Competition and then come to see the entries at Wisconsin State Fair. I won 433 ribbons in the 50 years I have been exhibiting.

Debra Kunath
New Berlin, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
35 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Textile and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
It’s a family tradition. Since about the age of 3 my family went to the Wisconsin State Fair every year. Wisconsin State Fair has made memories lasting a lifetime from childhood with my mom, dad and sisters, as a teen attending with friends, as a young adult with my husband and now as a senior citizen.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
Sewing for Wisconsin State Fair was a passion since I was 12 years old and my best friend and I would spend all day in the Women’s Building looking at the textiles, sewing, cooking and baking. We saved chairs for the Mary Lester Fabric Fashion Shows and Revues!! My serious sewing just started after I got married. 1985 was my first time entering, and I won a white ribbon on a stuffed teddy bear.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
One year, it poured rain, and there were more tents than buildings at that time. The All You Can Eat Pancake Vendor’s floor was flooded with rainwater and Fairgoers were eating pancakes with their feet lifted off the floor.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Pre-fair, over the span of the years, attending the Textile judging I made great sewing friends. Each year meeting back at the judging is a reunion!  At Wisconsin State Fair I stroll and admire the talents of all the women and men in our community and their winning entries. My husband and I love Benno’s and we enjoy sitting with the microbrews, people watching, having popcorn and pizza.

Laura Peplin
Elkhorn, WI

Number of Years Exhibiting at Wisconsin State Fair?
10 Years

How many generations of your family have exhibited at Wisconsin State Fair?
One

Department(s) Exhibited In?
Textiles and Crafts

What brings you back to Wisconsin State Fair Every Year?
I have a competitive spirit, and I love to challenge myself to be the best at my art. I also love for people to see the beauty of the lost art of cross-stitch.

What would you like Fairgoers and fellow competitors to know about the item(s) you exhibit?
There is far more time involved than people realize. My work involves 200-600 hours of stitching (depending on the size). I also mount, mat and frame my work.

What is your favorite or most unforgettable Wisconsin State Fair Memory?
In 2012, one of my pieces won 1st place, Judge’s Favorite and Best of Show.

What is something you do every year at Wisconsin State Fair?
Visit Grand Champion Hall to see all the wonderful art, foods and plants.