After rising to the top among 36 candidates representing their county and district fairs, Cayley Vande Berg of Fond Du Lac County was chosen Wednesday night to promote Wisconsin’s 75 fairs and serve as the official hostess of the Wisconsin State Fair.
“It was very incredible being selected as the 2020 Fairest of the Fairs,” Vande Berg said. “It really still feels like a dream. It doesn’t feel real.”
The selection took place in Wisconsin Dells after days of interviews and public speaking exercises, but Vande Berg said the road to becoming Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs was paved well before this week. She was inspired by her mother who served as the Fond du Lac County Fairest of the Fair 26 years ago.
“She took fourth in the state competition, so I have one up on her,” Vande Berg laughed. “Really, my mom was my first role model for that.”
The Eldorado native graduated from Laconia High School and is currently studying dairy science at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She was grateful for opportunities to work firsthand in the dairy industry with help from her local 4-H leader.
“Deb Mess has truly taught me the definition of hard work and allowed me to experience agriculture out on her family’s 120-cow dairy farm.”
Throughout the extensive interview process, Vande Berg said she was inspired by fellow candidates to bring new initiatives back to her county.
“During my group interview, I really liked the idea that Libby Knoebel from Jefferson County had. Her idea was to implement a mentorship program for her county fair. The mentorship program would help youth pair with an experienced exhibitor and go out to their farm and learn the basics of taking care of an animal and what that day-to-day process looks like.”
As Fairest, she expressed an interest to share her agricultural experience with audiences of all backgrounds.
“I want to show the urban population what the youth of Wisconsin are doing and how their food is produced,” Vande Berg said. “So many people are removed from farms. I want to showcase Wisconsin agriculture and that is definitely something that I will be working towards as the 2020 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair.”
Hours after receiving the title, Vande Berg said she was most looking forward to is visiting each county fair and learning how they are all unique to the fair industry.
“I want to see what they do to showcase Wisconsin agriculture and how they are including an urban population into an urban fair.”
She succeeds the 53rd Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs Meghan Buechel of Brown County.
“Come on out to the Wisconsin State Fair August 6-16, and I will be delighted to share a cream puff with you,” Vande Berg said. “Join me for those best 11 days of summer at the Wisconsin State Fair.”
The first runner-up was Mikaila Falash of Adams County. Rock County Fair’s Lauren Flynn was second-runner up followed by Jessica Moor of St. Croix County. Emma Buss of Lafayette County was chosen as the fourth runner-up.