The family Bieniek — Stacey, Aron and their son James— have visited every day of the Wisconsin state’s fair, for 16 years. It’s an ingrained tradition in their family. They can barely remember how they initiated it.
At first, it was like a low-cost way to go on vacation. When Aron and Stacey started dating many years ago, attending the fair was already part of their relationship ritual. At that time, Stacey also began working at the fair’s kitchen at the Double K Ranch. Last year, it was James who began working at Major Goolsby’s kitchen also ate the fair.
No matter how it started, the fair grew into the family tradition now. Each day during the fair, Stacy makes an envelope with the names of family members on them. There’s some $20 inside to buy food, souvenirs, or to do some activity offered on the fair. The Bienieks reside in the Hales Corners, and in order to avoid fees, they try to get early on the spot to park on the street.
When they arrive, they grab the brochure with daily activities and start mapping out their days.
To enter the fair, they use some of the admissions available that day. Lately, it’s mostly thanks to James’s free tickets he obtains for working at the fair.
This year, they picked Major’s Goolsby where the most delicious breakfast at the fair is served, according to Stacey. They usually get various kinds of food like giant cookies for only $3, and the best way to have them when it’s too crowded inside is to go on the outer aperture of the cream puff pavilion. That’s the kind of insider info that makes James visiting the fair each year acting as a tour guide to their friends when they visit the fair.
For many families in Wisconsin, this is a favorite summer tradition. But for them, it’s only one experience of the fair and nothing more.
Visiting the fair for all these years is the chance to enjoy it without rushing through things. There are so many activity options like pig race, pizza-eating competition, or the exp center.
One time, they even did a scavenger hunt, found everything that was on the treasure list. They won prizes like dinner at the restaurant and a one night stay in a hotel. The reason they won is that they knew where everything was and because they had enough time for the hunt since they were there each day of the fair.
For the downtime, when they want to take a rest, they take out the games out of their backpacks, grab a table from the expo center, and play the games for one hour or two.
Making new friendships at the fair is one of the most precious things. The fact that you know so many people on the fair is really fun, said Stacey’s dad, Mr. Kasprzak. During 16 years, the Bienieks have made so many great friendships, and there are always great people they look forward to seeing every year.
These friendships are more than just meeting up every year. A year ago, James was impressed with a man making fudge. He stopped and watched other members of the fudge vendor’s family making the fudge. They become such great friends that they visited them at their home in Kentucky after the fair ended.
It’s uncertain how long this tradition will last. According to Stacy, sometimes packing all the stuff needed looks like a job. But as long as they assume it as a decent replacement for the regular vacation, they will stick to this every-year family tradition.