JEFFERSON — One familiar face with a new title and one new face with an updated title will be in evidence during the Jefferson County Fair this week.
New Jefferson County Fair Park director Amy Listle took her position in May, but this marks her eighth year with the fair. She previously served as marketing and administrative assistant for the Fair Park and had a large hand in running last year’s fair.
Meanwhile, her colleague, Micheala Slind, the new marketing specialist for Jefferson County Fair Park, started in her role on June 28. She had previously worked in dairy sales for Cargill.
The new titles are part of a restructuring as the county, in January, reclassified some of its job titles relating to Jefferson County Fair Park.
The Jefferson County Fair runs from this Wednesday through Sunday, and both women have been extremely busy with final preparations.
Listle grew up going to fairs and festivals, becoming involved on the entertainment end rather than on the agricultural side.
She obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in public relations and marketing.
While in college, she took a position as communications intern at the Jefferson County Courthouse and when the old marketing/administrative assistant position opened up, she started part time at Fair Park.
“The majority of my job experience is out here, learning the fair industry,” she said.
Slind said this marks her first fair-related position, although she is very familiar with how county fairs work.
She grew up in 4-H and was active in numerous projects, showing dairy cows and swine; entering fruits, vegetables and flowers; and submitting art exhibits as a junior fair participant in her home county in northern Wisconsin.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2018 with a marketing degree and worked for a year in the dairy industry before coming to Jefferson County Fair Park.
As Fair Park director, Listle is charged with overseeing the entire operations of the fair and fairgrounds year-round. She books the entertainment, oversees the marketing plan and all staffing, evaluates opportunities for growth, and helps to create strategic plans for Fair Park into the future.
As marketing specialist, Slind is in charge of soliciting sponsors, creating marketing plans to increase exposure for Fair Park and the activities it offers, and planning different events.
One of the big things on the horizon is the Fairest of the Fair program, which is not taking place during the regular run of fair this year, but instead will be held later in the year in preparation for the 2020 Jefferson County Fair.
But first things first. The fair park director and marketing specialist said they truly are looking forward to what’s coming up later this week for the 2019 Jefferson County Fair.
“I’m excited about a lot of things,” Listle said. “I love to see all of the exhibitor projects that people have been working on all year that they showcase here. It’s awesome to see so many young people who are willing to show off their talents.
“I’m also excited to debut our new swine barn, which was just completed,” Listle said.
The barn, which replaces a smaller building, will house swine during fair week, but also will be used for other purposes throughout the year, including events during the warm seasons and storage during winter.
Slind said she’s eager to get to know the Jefferson County Fair and to talk with participants and attendees.
“I want to hear from local people about what they like, so we can expand on what they most want to see at the fair,” Slind said.
Out on the horizon beyond fair, Listle said, she and her staff are looking at a number of new and unique events to bring to the fairgrounds throughout the year.
She said she is proud that Jefferson County Fair Park will be the first-ever non-farm site for Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in 2021.
(This year’s Farm Technology Days will also take place in Jefferson County, at the Walter Grain Farms in Grellton, July 23-25.)
Meanwhile, Listle said, she’s working on continuing to grow the fair and expand the entertainment, exhibitors and activities.
She noted that in recent years, the Jefferson County Fair as seen increased attendance, despite a small dip last year linked to a couple of days of bad weather. That bodes well for the future, she said.
Slind said that in terms of marketing, some of her long-term goals are to look at ways to continue attracting people of all ages, highlight the agricultural portion of the fair and increase sponsorships.
“It’s going to be a busy week,” Listle said. “I hope everyone comes out to the fair to see what we have to offer — but I would also like to see people continue to come out to our events throughout the year.”
She noted that Jefferson County Fair Park hosts more than 200 events on its grounds every year, including some very large ones such as the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Fest in September and the Madison Classics Car Show and Swap Meet in both spring and fall.
There also are numerous events that are fairly unique and can’t be found anywhere else, she said.
“I am really proud of Jefferson County Fair Park’s role as a good community partner,” Listle said.
“I want to keep creating those positive relationships with our communities and local organizations like the Kiwanis Club, the Jefferson County Agribusiness Club and other volunteer groups that help us staff our events while giving those local organizations a place to fundraise,” she added.