andrew kruse-ross | brown co fair | aug. 2017
Bridging the gap between rural and urban cultures, The Brown County Fair is back for five family-friendly days that are equal parts fun and educational. With their modest price tag — advance tickets are just $9 — the Brown County Fair offers area families a great entertainment value. That price includes admission, carnival rides, parking and all entertainment!
The Fair, Then & Now
The early days of the fair, when much of Brown County was agricultural, the fair offered an opportunity for people to come together, share their experiences and display the fruits of their labor.
“The fair started out as a place to showcase your effort," says Steve Corrigan, the fair's president. “You maybe had the best dairy cow, sheep or hog, the best garden or your wife was the best quilter. Those are traditions that were passed down to family members."
While the fair would not be complete without these exhibitions, today, it isn't just prized livestock and crafts that are on display.
“Now, we're three to five generations removed from the farm," says Corrigan. “And the fair is about showcasing what agriculture does to provide the food products we all take for granted … You can go into any fifth grade classroom and ask, 'Where does your food come from?' and the majority are going to say Festival Foods."
The fair is heavily involved in educating the youth through school programs Future Farmers of American (FFA) and 4-H to ensure the vitality and progress of the state's agricultural development and security and to introduce students that are removed from farm life to the possibilities of agricultural careers. Many of those careers are falling in high tech sectors that most don't normally associate with farming.
“There are careers out there, high paying careers, that are in the agricultural sector: chemical companies, seed companies, equipment design, technology software, computerization, they're all big in agriculture right now," says Corrigan.
Something for Everyone
There's simply too many activities planned over the course of the Brown County Fair to mention them all here, but Corrigan may put it best when he says, “We've got activities for people 6, 66 or 96 years old."
Key event features include truck, horse and tractor pulls, an alligator show, demolition derby and live music on the midway stage. Regional food and commercial vendors will also be on hand offering an array of food and items for purchase.
Pulls begin on Thursday with the truck pulls, which feature street diesels and semi tractor vehicles. Tractor pulls take place on Saturday and traditional horse pulls are on Sunday.
Annual fairgoers will find the layout different than in years past. A newly installed permanent track sitting parallel to the Fox River has been installed which will host the pulls and demolition derby.
“We think fairgoers will be really pleased with the new track," says board member Kathy Ambrosius.
New to the fair this year is the Kachunga and the Alligator show, which pits American bushman Kachunga against a live alligator in performances that are both thrilling and educational. This show has received critical acclaim across the nation.
The Detroit News billed the Kachunga and the Alligator show as the Michigan State Fair's leading attraction and The Tampa Tribune, reporting on the Florida State Fair, noted the show drawing “standing-room-only crowds," calling it a “crowd pleaser."
Brown County Fair attendees will get plenty of opportunities to see this performance as the Kachunga and the Alligator show is scheduled to perform three shows per day during the fair's duration — Wednesday through Sunday.
No fair would be complete without carnival rides, and those are provided by the professionals from All Around Amusements, who will have all rides inspected and certified the day the fair begins. And, rides are included in the price of admission, but more on that later!
The Midway Stage offers a mix of live music from regional acts throughout the entire fair. “We book a lot of regional talent for the fair," says Corrigan. “We're proud that it keeps the money funneled within our community."
Classic rock and country performer Bobby Evans takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday; rock/variety act The Cougars perform at 8:30 p.m. on Friday; on Saturday, variety act Petty Cash takes the stage at 2 p.m. and high-energy country act Haley Grace & The Rebels cover the evening starting at 8:30 p.m. On Sunday the Sugarbush Boys will stick around after the Catholic Mass service to provide polka music and pop act Ignite will take the stage at 4 p.m.
Returning to the Brown County Fair will be perhaps its most loved attraction: the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Rodeo presented by Broadway Automotive. The rodeo at the Brown County Fair has a storied history of success since it first offered the event in 2008, winning a Best New Rodeo of the Year Award in 2008, and going on to win Best Small Rodeo Awards numerous times including 2016.
“We're very proud to have won this award again in 2016. This is voted on by the rodeo contestants themselves, so it's a great honor for us to receive this recognition again," says Ambrosius.
Iowa-based livestock provider Three Hills Rodeo, which received the coveted PRCA Remuda Award for its herd of bucking horses will again be providing the animals for this year's event. They were the first livestock provider east of the Missouri River to be awarded that honor.
As a PRCA event, the rodeo is an official qualifying event for cowboys hoping to compete in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas (NFR).
No stranger to this event is 2013 PRCA Rookie-of-the-Year Tim O'Connell. O'Connell continues to be the man to catch and sits in the No. 1 position atop the PRCA World Standings with more than double the earnings as his closest bareback competitor. The rodeo takes place on Friday and Saturday nights.
A veterans' service and meet & greet takes place at 10 a.m. on Saturday with an appreciation ceremony honoring disabled veterans and Purple Heart veterans. Veterans and active personnel receive free admission to the fair on Saturday with the presentation of a Veteran or Military I.D. Card.
On Sunday, a tractor parade will begin at the Fair Grounds and travel through the City of De Pere to Voyageur Park before returning back to the Fair Grounds. Sunday will also offer Catholic polka mass featuring the Sugarbush Boys starting at 10 a.m.
The Brown County Fair also has an area dedicated to kid's activities, featuring kiddie carnival rides, bounce houses and two interactive shows. The Miller & Mike Clown Stage Show performs at multiple times beginning on Thursday and carrying on throughout the duration of the fair. And Nick's Kid Show will also offer many show times, and begins on Wednesday to last for the duration of the fair.
Performances by both acts take place in or near the Ag-Venture tent, which offers a number of fun and educational activities for the kids including the Ag Venture Fun & NWTC Mobile Labs— a new addition to this year's fair.
An Amazing Value – Pay One Price
If you're thinking showing up to the fair means a day of being nickeled and dimed until your pocketbook aches, forget about it. The Brown County Fair Board strives to adhere to the family-focused message of their mission statement and have kept costs down so that anyone can enjoy the fair. “We're a family event and we want to remain a family event," says Ambrosius.
“You can come and give us a business plan, you can tell us we should be $15 a ticket … you can tell us all that, but it's not what our mission statement is. Our mission statement says this is a family, community event and we have to make it affordable," adds Corrigan.
How affordable? How about $9 in advance and $12 at the gates? Yes, $9 in advance each or $12 at the gate. Tickets are $7 at the gate on Sunday. While kids age 3 and under can attend the fair for free, those that meet ride requirements can purchase a wristband allowing them access to rides for just $5.
What do you get for your $9 ticket? Entrance, carnival rides, parking and all the entertainment! The pulls, the music, the kiddie shows, the animals, the alligator shows and the rodeo are all included in the cost of a ticket! That's more than 12 hours of entertainment, for the entire day at an amazing price. All that isn't covered in the cost of a ticket is concessions, commercial vendor purchases and carnival games (rides are included in cost of ticket).
“I don't know if there is one venue within 100 miles of Green Bay where you can take your kids and adults for the entire day for $9 a person for an entire day's worth of entertainment," says Corrigan.
In keeping with their family and community friendly mission, the fair also gives back to the community and ensures that everyone has an opportunity to experience the fair, regardless of age, economic hardship or disability. A partnership between the Brown County Fair and the Brown County Library allows kids to earn a ticket for themselves and a parent upon completion of a Library Day reading program, and senior care facilities are given free admission for residents and caregivers.
Making It All Possible
Putting such an event all together simply wouldn't be possible without an incredible cast of volunteers and community partners.
“Our partners in the community help us through sponsorships, and that helps us offset the financial commitment we have so that we can keep the fair affordable," says Corrigan.
Broadway Automotive, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, will bring back the PRCA Rodeo to the county, but there are numerous other community partners and sponsors making contributions and donations to every facet of the fair to ensure its success, and this includes the Brown County Board of Supervisors, City of De Pere, Village of Ashwaubenon, both the Brown County and De Pere Parks Departments and NWTC, who will provide police cadets to support regular police officers, paramedics and other support units to the fair. Adds Corrigan, “Our goal is to make the fair the safest event in Brown County."
One of the ways you can ensure The Brown County Fair lives on: attend the fair and introduce the youth to agriculture. The fair itself is the only fiscal source of income for future fairs and to make repairs and improvements to the grounds.
“This is our only fundraiser to continue the fair," says Ambrosius. “And school youth programs FFA and 4-H ensure that there will be interest in keeping Brown County's Fair going strong for future generations to enjoy."
For a complete listing of events visit browncountyfair.com.
Brown Co. Fair, Aug. 16 – 20, 1500 Fort Howard Ave., De Pere.
Purchase advanced tickets online at browncountyfair.com, or in person at Larry's Piggly Wiggly (De Pere), Dicks' Family Foods (Wrightstown), Bridgeport Gas Station (Wrightstown), D & G Restaurant (Greenleaf), Festival Foods (Green Bay, De Pere, Suamico), Country Visions Cooperative (De Pere), Ron's (Pulaski) or by mailing a check to Brown County Fair, PO Box 472, De Pere, WI 54115.
Corporate ticket packages, please inquire by using the Contact Us feature online.