Northern Wisconsin State Fair set up: not a small task

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- The Northern Wisconsin State Fair starts tomorrow, but what does it take to put an event like this together?

The fairgrounds are close to being ready for the droves of people who will be packing the grounds this entire weekend. But what does it really take putting together an event of this magnitude? One man has been running the show for the past 8 years and he says it isn’t a walk in the park.

“Neil, are you serious?” is the question Rusty Volk, the Executive Director of the Northern Wisconsin State Fair, asked me when I told him to tell me everything about the planning of the fair; his reasoning is because it’s not an overnight adventure.

“To put it together, it takes a lot of people,” Volk said. “It takes a lot of volunteers from 4-H to FFA and really, the whole community gets together. We’ve grown dramatically in the last three years from probably 60,000 to 85,000 people attending the fair and it’s because of the improvements we’ve made to the fairgrounds.”

With all that help, it's still a big workload.

"I'll be here 'til late at night and then I'll be back early in the morning tomorrow to make sure everything kicks off, so that by 11 o'clock, when we have our flag raising ceremony, everything is going to be wonderful,” Volk said. “Then, I can relax and enjoy the fair.

Not everything that goes into planning a fair is coordinating where stands and rides go.

“What are the challenges that we have?” Volk said. “Whether it be E.coli, whether it be bird flu; all those elements fall into planning a fair.

Others working with Volk putting the fair together say his job description contains words like crazy, wild, and chaotic.

“Rusty’s job is very hectic,” Sally Kjorlien, who has been working for the Northern Wisconsin State Fair for 36 years, said. “He’s on the go constantly. I don’t know how he does it. He’s here from morning ‘til night. He’s a very, very busy person and he’s done wonders up here with the fair.”

And before you get to ride the Ferris wheel or have your favorite treat at the fair, it all needs to be coordinated and everything needs to be set.

When I talked with Volk Tuesday, he got numerous phone calls, had people trying to flag him down to see where things needed to go, but he still kept his cool and a smile on his face and said, “the show must go on.”

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