By Cara L. Dempski
WISCONSIN DELLS — A Glenwood City native was named fourth runner-up for the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair title earlier this month.
Kaitlin Konder, who was named the St. Croix County Fairest of the Fair last summer, and is a student at UW-River Falls, traveled to Wisconsin Dells January 7 through 10 to compete with 35 other young women for the title of Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair. The competition was held during the 2018 Wisconsin Association of Fairs convention at Chula Vista resort.
[emember_protected] She traveled to the convention with one of the St. Croix County Fairest of the Fair coordinators, but definitely had others to lean on while there.
“My parents came down to support me the whole time I was there,” she said. “Members of the St. Croix County fair board were there attending workshops to help better our fair, and support me all the way.”
Konder’s competition started right away with a “meet the contestants” introduction for convention attendees. The Glenwood City graduate had to give a 30-second verbal introduction before giving an impromptu fair announcement.
Monday, January 8, brought an auction of baskets sold to pay for expenses during the competition. Konder’s basket contained a variety of items from local businesses like Chickadee Do-Da of New Richmond, Joe Jackelen Livestock of Glenwood City, and The Studio in Glenwood City.
On Tuesday, Konder went through an individual interview with judges, and a preliminary competition where she announced a radio advertisement promoting the fair and answered an impromptu question. The following day, she was part of a group interview with five other contestants.
The group of six was given the task of coming up with a solution for the problem presented. The task led into Wednesday night’s finals and convention awards banquet.
Each Fairest contestant had to introduce themselves again, and 10 contestants were chosen from the group to move on. Konder had to answer another impromptu question and then waited for the judges to collaborate and decide who the final five competitors would be.
“I got super nervous because they had announced four of the top five with only one spot left,” she explained. “When I heard them say ‘St. Croix County’ for the final spot, I couldn’t believe it.”
After answering one more question as one of the five finalists, Konder was finally announced as one of the runners-up, while Kewaunee County’s Isabella Haen was named the 2018 Wisconsin State Fair Fairest of the Fair.
Though the title of fourth runner-up means Konder will not have any formal duties for the state fair, she is still looking forward to her duties as the St. Croix County Fairest. She said she was glad of the experience at the convention because of how much she learned.
From presentations on fair operation or entertainment, to training in etiquette, speaking, and other professional practices to discussing ways to improve the Fairest program, she said she would go back in a heartbeat.
“There was so much energy everywhere I went,” Konder explained. “I could see how much the people that attended the convention loved their fair and the entire industry.”
The current St. Croix County Fairest is the second person in the county’s Fairest history to make it to the top five for the state competition. Lori Mueller, St. Croix County’s Fairest of the Fair for 2001-2002, was named first runner-up in 2002. There were two other competitors from the county who made it to the top 10: Hannah Ness (2010-2011) and Shelby Weiske (2015-2016).
Konder said she hopes there can be more St. Croix County competitors in the top five of the contest in years to come, and looks forward to working with the Fairest of the Fair committee to help the program continue to grow.
Overall, the Glenwood City woman said she was honored to represent the county at Wisconsin Dells.
“I have a wonderful fair board to work with, a beautiful fair to represent, and all the support that I could ask for,” she finished.
Anyone interested in learning more about the Fairest of the Fair program in St. Croix County can find more information on the program’s Facebook page, or contact local fair representatives. [/emember_protected]