Outagamie County Fair: Celebrating Rural Roots

Donna Fischer

donna fischer | outagamie county fair | july 2018

The Outagamie County Fair is back for its 134th season in Seymour. Few community traditions can boast such longevity and this one has a great deal to boast about. The range of entertainment and wealth of agriculture on display from July 24-29 shows just how vibrant and varied Outagamie County communities are. Here are just a few highlights of what you'll find this year in Seymour.

On Tuesday evening the machines of farming will fire up their engines for a fierce test of power. The Farm Tractor Pull in the grandstand will feature older and newer tractors, though the focus will fall on older John Deere, Allis-Chalmers and Farmall tractors, just to name a few.

The next night has Hot Tractors taking over, featuring professional pullers, along with a Truck Pull.

Hang on to your hat! On Thursday night professional bull riding makes its debut at the grandstand. According to fair manager, Brian Stille, bringing in one of the premier bull riding companies in the Midwest was a move to introduce a different option for entertainment. Complete with clowns and memorabilia, Thursday night's bull riding event should prove to be a crowd pleaser.

On Saturday at noon fans of motocross racing can enjoy a show by WI-FMX, a freestyle motocross group based in the Fox Valley that tours across the nation.

The fair goes out with a bang, make that multiple bangs.

“We have a double-event on Sunday, called Motor Madness," explains Stille. “We have a program at noon that is more of a tough truck event. At 2 p.m. we have the demolition derby. One ticket for both events."

Beyond the grandstand, fairgoers of all ages will find the people and the livestock that make our local agricultural communities thrive. It's a chance for farmers and city folk alike to stroll through the barns and get up close to Holsteins and hogs, talk with their owners and learn a little about the ever-changing business of producing food for the nation. This is another area where the Outagamie County Fair stands out in a summer full of county fairs.

“For one thing the Outagamie County Fair has retained its rural roots," says Stille. “A lot of people like to come to the fair in Seymour because the setting is very rural, and if you're looking for farm animals you're going to find them at the Outagamie County Fair."

With four large buildings dedicated to 4-H animals, this aspect of the fair does change with trends in farming.

“It goes up and down over time. Animal projects change according to the current economics going on. We've had some decline in dairy animals because there are fewer small farms milking. We've had a significant increase in beef because that's one of the alternatives to doing dairy. Hogs have been pretty steady."

Stille notes an increase in recent years in the fair's assortment of poultry and rabbits on display, animals that are growing in popularity with non-farm families.

Photo by Tony Sergo.One popular tradition brings a local youth to the forefront to help with publicity of the fair. Seymour's Morgan Rynish was recently crowned Fairest of the Fair. Stille says that Rynish will help with advertising and media duties and serve as an ambassador for the fair. Another creative avenue for teenagers at the fair is with the talent show. On Saturday afternoon local kids will perform in a dance, vocal, instrumental or variety performance, with the winner advancing to the State Fair in August.

The thrills of the carnival rides will be available all six days of the fair, courtesy of Spectrum Entertainment. And if you're adventurous enough to go on multiple rides, a mega wristband might be a worthwhile purchase. The band is good for all rides during the week, with a $10 discount given for bands purchased prior to the start of the fair.

Stille points out that families can enjoy many aspects of the fair at no extra charge.

“We try to focus a lot of energy into free entertainment on the grounds. We have several different acts including the stage hypnotist show. That will be on Thursday, Friday and Sunday."

Nicolet National Bank's Family Entertainment Tent also includes juggling acts, clowns and music for the kids. And just to make sure the little ones are thoroughly entertained, fair organizers send out mechanical robots in the shape of cartoon farm animals on pedal tractors. Guided by remote control, these “Ta-Da Robots" pedal around the grounds to interact with children. Check out the fair's page on Facebook for an amusing video showing kids meeting these quirky characters.

While fair food is legendary, there's something about a pie contest that grabs one's attention and taste buds like nothing else. With a division for 4-H members and another for open-class, pie judging at the fair is slated to take place on Friday, July 27 at 3:30 p.m. And yes, there will be samples of pies available while supplies last.

Dating all the way back to 1885, the Outagamie County Fair has been a cherished tradition for generations of families. It's helped launch the humble hamburger, provided educational and commercial opportunities for countless children and adults and given thrills along the way. This year's fair theme is County Pride – County Wide. It's a fitting sentiment for such a dynamic event.

And according to Stille, this fair is special because of its focus on farming and family.

“The key to that has been our focus on agriculture and on simply creating an event that is family-oriented. A lot of people come to see the animals and all of the exhibits from the youths and then just enjoy great family time."

For more information on tickets, a full event schedule and fair history, go to OutagamieCountyFair.com.

This year's national headliners are Home Free and Theory of a Deadman. Tickets are available online or at Nicolet Bank in Appleton and Seymour and at Family Insurance Center in Freedom and Greenville.

--banner image courtesy Jason Mrachina

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