The 2014 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs was selected on Jan. 8 during the 91st annual Wisconsin Association of Fairs Convention in Wisconsin Dells. A field of 40 contestants from county and district fairs throughout Wisconsin participated in the competition, and Kaitlyn Riley, 21, representing the Crawford County Fair, took home the coveted Fairest of the Fairs crown.
The Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs program was created to promote the variety of educational, agricultural, social, cultural and commercial opportunities available at Wisconsin's fairs. It is a position of responsibility to the citizens of Wisconsin and the winner must possess excellent speaking, writing and listening skills as well as organization, time management and a passion for Wisconsin's fair industry.
Riley will serve as a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Association of Fairs, representing all 76 Wisconsin county and district fairs in 2014. Her one-year term begins immediately and responsibilities include traveling to fairs throughout the state making appearances, working with media and promoting the educational, social and economic importance of Wisconsin's Fair and Agriculture Industries.
In addition, she will serve as an ambassador of the 2014 Wisconsin State Fair which will take place July 31 through Aug. 10. This includes greeting fairgoers and special guests,
performing as master of ceremonies for several events before and during the Fair, participating in various contests and representing the Fair during select media appearances.
Riley was selected from a field of talented young women, and replaces the 2013 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs, Steffani Koch of Dodge County. The Fairest of the Fairs is chosen by a panel of three judges representing the fair, communications and agriculture industries. This year's judges were Terri Wilfert, Bill Bruins and Christianne Williams.
The daughter of Jody and Paulette Riley of Gays Mills, Riley is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying strategic communications and broadcast journalism. She is currently the public relations student officer for the Association of Women in Agriculture and has served on numerous communications and agriculture committees. For several years Riley has volunteered at nursing homes, children's hospitals and the Ronald McDonald House while also receiving Dean's List Honors each year at UW-Madison.
Ariel Hellenbrand, 19, representing the Lodi Agricultural Fair was named first runner-up. She is the daughter of Paul and Donna Hellenbrand of Lodi, and is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
Jenna Crayton, 21, representing the Racine County Fair was named second runner-up. She is the daughter of James and Jacqueline Crayton of Oak Creek and is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Alizabeth Elfering, 20, representing the Kenosha County Fair was named third runner-up. She is the daughter of Dean and Karen Elfering of Mauston and is a junior at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Jennifer Kuffel, 19, representing the Sheboygan County Fair was named fourth runner-up. She is the daughter of Micheal and Amy Kuffel of Oostburg and is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Alexia Gegare, 19, representing the Rock County Fair, was named Miss Congeniality. She is the daughter of Debbie Gegare of Janesville and attends the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.
"The Fairest of the Fairs plays an important role in promoting all Fairs in Wisconsin, including the Wisconsin State Fair," stated Rick Frenette, CEO of Wisconsin State Fair Park. "Our staff is fortunate to work with a talented, intelligent and passionate young woman each year, and we look forward to the opportunity to get to know Kaitlyn and contribute to her personal and professional growth."
Individuals interested in competing in future Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs contests may contact their county or district fair board for more information, or visit www.wifairs.com.
The 2014 Wisconsin State Fair, presented by U.S. Cellular, will take place July 31 – Aug. 10.
Source: Wisconsin State Fair