Pepin County Ends Annual Fair, Combines Event With Buffalo County

Local Leaders Say Uncertainty About Where The Event Would Be Held, Lack of Volunteers Influenced Decision

Ferris Wheel
Daniel X. O’Neil (CC BY)

Pepin County has announced they’ll no longer host an annual county fair.

The Pepin County Fair Association said in a statement the decision was based on a lack of volunteers and uncertainty about where the event will be held.

Marie Ritscher, county 4-H and youth development agent through University of Wisconsin-Extension, said local officials have been considering combining the fair with neighboring Buffalo County for several years.

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“It’s been an ongoing conversation and there’s many reasons why. One of the major reasons has been because of our facilities,” Ritscher said.

Ritscher said Pepin County’s problem hasn’t been financial but simply having a place to hold the event. An old school building typically used by the fair has changed owners several times, causing uncertainty.

“There’s a variability that we would not be able to use it 2018, so that was one of our major concerns,” Ritscher said.

Pepin will continue to have a separate 4-H program, but youth will participate in Buffalo County’s fair, which Ritscher said is another bonus.

“Since we’re a small fair, the competition isn’t always there. So I think some of the 4-H exhibitors wanted maybe a little more competition and maybe a little more social aspect to it,” Ritscher said.

Patricia Malone, UW-Extension’s area director for the region, said Pepin is the first county in recent memory to end their annual fair.

But Malone said many counties throughout the state struggle to get enough volunteers.

“These are major investments of time and people power that counties are committed to and people who love fairs are committed to,” Malone said. “It will be interesting as time goes on and demographic changes occur just to see what may or may not happen.”