Wisconsin State Fair officials are excited to introduce the 2017 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs, who was selected Jan. 11 at the 94th annual Wisconsin Association of Fairs Convention in Wisconsin Dells. A field of 39 contestants from county and district fairs throughout Wisconsin participated in the competition, and Rebecca Starkenburg, 20, representing the Lodi Agricultural Fair, took home the Fairest of the Fairs crown.
The Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs program was designed to select an ambassador for the Wisconsin Association of Fairs, which represents all 76 Wisconsin county, district and state fairs. This year marked the 51st crowning of the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs.
Starkenburg will serve a one-year term. Her responsibilities include making appearances at fairs throughout the state, working with media, and promoting the importance of Wisconsin’s fair and agriculture industries. In addition, she will serve as hostess of the 2017 Wisconsin State Fair, set for Aug. 3-13. This includes greeting fairgoers and special guests, performing as master of ceremonies for several events during the fair, participating in various contests and representing the fair during select media appearances.
Starkenburg replaces 2016 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs Gloria Kesler of Calumet 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 Gail Zastrow, Stacy H. Wigfield and Susan Crane.
The daughter of David and Robin Starkenburg of DeForest, Starkenburg is a junior at South Dakota State University majoring in agriculture communications and minoring in animal science and meat science. She also works for the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition, volunteers at the Sioux Falls Sertoma Butterfly House and hosts a yearly free event on her family farm, allowing the community to see and learn about various farm animals. Starkenburg plans to pursue a communications and public relations career in the meat industry.
“We look forward to welcoming the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs to our team each year,” says Kathleen O’Leary, CEO of Wisconsin State Fair Park. “Rebecca has proven she will be an excellent ambassador for Wisconsin’s fair industry. I would like to congratulate all of the 2017 contestants, who showed great passion for fairs and the agriculture industry in Wisconsin, and wish them the best of luck in future endeavors.”
Kallie Jo Kastenson, 21, representing the Racine County Fair, was named first runner-up. She is the daughter of Rick and Julie Kastenson of Union Grove and is a current graduate student at Texas Tech University, pursuing her master’s degree in agriculture communications. She recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with an agriculture education degree and has served as the vice president of the National Agri-Marketing Association and on the Collegiate Farm Bureau.
Talia Spiegelberg, 21, representing the Waukesha County Fair, was named second runner-up. She is the daughter of Jim and Karen Spiegelberg of Oconomowoc and is a junior at UW-Madison, pursuing a degree in elementary education and special education.
Charitee Seebecker, 21, representing the Juneau County Fair, was named third runner-up. She is the daughter of Tim and Dawn Seebecker of Mauston and is a junior at UW-Platteville, pursuing a degree in agriculture business.
Kristi Sawall, 19, representing the Waupaca County Fair, was named forth runner-up. She is the daughter of Blair and Kathy Sawall of Clintonville and is a sophomore at Concordia University Wisconsin, pursuing a degree in nursing.
Jackie McGlin, 22, representing the Calumet County Fair, received the Tim Heffernon Ms. Congeniality Award. She is the daughter of Jeffrey and Judy McGlin of Forest Junction and is pursuing a degree in prototype and design at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
Source: Wisconsin State Fair