Allison Hardy, the 2017-18 Vernon County Fairest of the Fair, is looking forward to promoting agriculture as she represents the county.

“We are in an agriculture area here but I want to help promote agriculture in bigger places to show we need agriculture to survive,” she said.

Hardy, a 2016 Viroqua High School graduate, was crowned Fairest of the Fair at the Vernon County Fair Ferris Wheel Breakfast, July 29. The University of Wisconsin-River Falls sophomore said she was “shocked a little bit” when her name was announced.

“Any of the other two girls would have been great,” she said. “When I stood up I thought, ‘Don’t trip.’ That was my biggest fear. I was shocked and excited and a little nervous.”

Hardy, 19, said she was too nervous to eat breakfast that day, so after the announcement she was a little shaky. “I thought, ‘Did I dream this?’ It was a good surprise; I was very excited.”

Since being named Vernon County Fair’s ambassador, Hardy has been busy. She attended the Fairest of the Fairs reunion held at the Wisconsin State Fair. She met past years’ Fairest of the Fairs from throughout the state and those who will compete in the State Fairest of the Fairs contest in January

“There were a ton of girls there and they were really nice,” Hardy said. “It’s going to be a great time; I’m excited.”

She also was in Viroqua’s Wild West Days parade Aug. 18, and has been filling out the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs online application. “Once school starts time will fly. I want to make sure the application is good and not slapped together.”

Hardy was a member of the Liberty Pole Boosters 4-H Club. Her mother, Amy, was the general leader of the club during the time she was in the club. Years ago, her late grandmother, Ramona Thompson, was also general leader of the club. She was also a member of the Viroqua FFA Chapter of which her father, Lloyd, was adviser.

“It was a whole family affair,” she said with a laugh and smile.

Although she could have exhibited projects at the fair both as a 4-H’er and a FFA member, Hardy chose to exhibit through 4-H. Her projects included showing Brown Swiss dairy cattle and swine, woodworking, baking, arts and crafts, tobacco and fruits and vegetables.

Hardy’s favorite memory is of the Little Britches Dairy Show and leading her calf in the show ring. She also has fond memories of watching the show.

“The kids are so stinking adorable,” she said. “It’s fun to watch the parents push the calves along. The kids are so cute and dressed up – it’s so adorable.”

What also stays in her mind are the cold early mornings, often getting up at 3 a.m., to head to the fairgrounds to wash cattle on show day.

“It’s a long day for us, but even longer for parents,” Hardy said.

Hardy said for a few years she, her cousin Leif, sister Shana and brother Lloyd were the only ones showing Brown Swiss cattle. “There will be a couple new Brown Swiss exhibitors at the fair this year. It’s good to see it grow.”

Over the years numerous family members showed Brown Swiss cattle at the fair, a tradition that started with her grandfather, the late Carter Thompson.

“I feel like the fair is more sentimental for my family… it’s history for me,” Hardy said.

People of all ages coming to the fair, not just exhibitors, make the five-day event special, Hardy said.

“I’ve been to other fairs and there aren’t a lot of other parents and kids at other fairs; you don’t even see a lot of animals,” she said. “In this county people spend a lot of time at the fair, enjoy it and look forward to it every year.”

Meeting and talking with those fair-goers is something else Hardy is looking forward to as Fairest of the Fair.

“When you exhibit (animals) you are in the barn a lot,” she said. “I’m excited to get out of the barn.”

Last year Hardy didn’t take animals to the fair and she missed the dairy and swine shows.

“It’s different after all those years. Last year I got to the fair Friday evening. When you exhibit you pretty much live at the fair from Wednesday to Sunday. I did help my brother get ready for the sale.”

“This year I will be here for the whole fair. It’s so different without showing,” she said.

Hardy said it’s difficult to decide which fair food is her favorite. She likes gyros and deep-fried cheese curds. “You can’t go wrong with cheese curds.” She also enjoys food served at the local food stands. “You can’t go wrong with them (either).”

Hardy is pursuing a double major of agriculture business and crop and soil science. “I’m not 100 percent sure of what I want to do but I would like to get a career to incorporate both (majors). I hope to get a job here; I like the area.”

This school year she plans to continue being a member of the Agriculture Business Marketing Society, join the Crops and Soils Club and join a sorority. This summer she worked three days a week at Sleepy Hollow Chevy (a part-time job she’s had since 2014) and two days a week as an intern at Star Blends in in Sparta.

“I learned a lot more goes into making feed than people expect,” Hardy said. “It was a very good learning experience.”

Hardy will reign over the Vernon County Fair Sept. 13-17.

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Angie Cina is editor of the Vernon County Broadcaster. Contact her at 608-637-5616.

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