County fair good time to ‘bee happy’

Ryan Ognibene takes in the whirlwind of excitement at the 2015 Walworth County Fair perched atop a horse on the carousel. (Aaron Gottschalk photo)

      It may not be the oldest county fair in the state of Wisconsin, but the Walworth County Fair certainly has a bee in its bonnet this year to show it’s been around almost as long.

      The 173rd Walworth County Fair started Wednesday and runs through Monday’s Labor Day holiday. The theme for this year’s event is “Bee Happy,” and there will even be a contest for the “Best Bee-dazzled” fair guest.

      “We want people to be happy. Another thing is we feel it’s important people understand how important pollinator insect are,” said Walworth County Fairgrounds General Manager Larry Gaffey. “How important they are to our environment.”

      The annual event features numerous different contested areas, including antiques, horses, livestock and food. Also featured is daily scheduled entertainment set for various different stages, the carnival and midway, and everything from Foreigner to the annual demolition derby at the Grandstand.

      “The concert lineup is very diverse. We have country, we have rock, we have classic rock and we have active rock,” Gaffey said. “Every one of the acts are huge in the music business.”

      The fair generally draws tens of thousands of people. A volunteer staff of hundreds work the grounds as well as 300 employees and about 40 non-profits will be on the grounds, raising money for their organizations.

      However, the fair will not be taking attendance this year for the first time. Gaffey said the organization decided to do that this year to show there are other measures to how well a fair does.

      “It’s not a good measure of how good the fair is,” Gaffey said. “We want everyone to have fun, we want our vendors to do well, we want our non-profits … to do well.”

      What you should remember when you head to the fairgrounds this year:

      • The fairgrounds will be open each day from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. The fair office hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the fair.

      • While the Grandstand entertainment at the fairgrounds is varied, each show requires a separate ticket to enter, costing as little as $5 for the monster truck show to as much as $50 for several of the bands. General fair admission must be purchased separately.

      • Fair admission ticket costs are $12 for adults aged 13 and older, $8 for senior citizens Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, $7 for kids age 5 to 12, while children 4 and younger are admitted free. Parking is free.

      • Standard-size wheelchairs are available in a limited quantity on a first-come, first-service basis. No electric scooters are available for rental. The Walworth County Fair follows ADA guidelines regarding service animals. A service animal is one that is trained to do work, perform tasks and assist individuals with disabilities.

      • No carry-in alcohol is allowed. Weapons, illegal drugs, controlled substances, bikes, skateboards, Frisbees and other discs are also prohibited. Smoking, including e-cigarettes and vaping, is not allowed in any indoor facilities, the Grandstand, Barnyard Adventure, tents and any other designated structures.

      • The midway and carnival will be run by North American Midway Entertainment. All carnival wristbands and tickets may be purchased on site. The carnival will run from noon to 10 p.m. Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to close Saturday and Sunday and noon to 8 p.m. Monday. POP – pay one price – wristbands are available for $30. No refunds, rebands or exchanges will be given for any reason, including weather or if a child is not tall enough to ride alone.

      • Numerous different special contests are scheduled for during the fair, including Plein Air at the Fair, the Birdhouse Build Off and Kids Pedal Tractor Pulls, among others.

      A full schedule of events is available at

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