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Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Campers stay close to the action for Wisconsin Valley Fair


Fair campers set up at park for convenience


By Kathleen Foody • Wausau Daily Herald • August 3, 2010
Even the most dedicated Wisconsin Valley Fair participant can get worn down by five days of sunshine, crowds and fried food.
Having a little piece of home within walking distance of the midway, even if it's on wheels, makes the entire fair more enjoyable, according to exhibitors and vendors who have created their own little village in Marathon Park this week.
Jennifer Schwede's family has been using the park's campground during the fair week for four years. Both of Schwede's daughters exhibit animals at the fair, and having a nearby place to relax when the atmosphere becomes overwhelming makes the whole week more enjoyable, she said."The girls are up by 6:30, down to the barns by 7 to clean the stalls out and feed the animals," she said. "It can be a very long day, and getting home to Merrill just for a break takes awhile.
"The park's 30 camping spots for tents or recreational vehicles are reserved for vendors and exhibitors at $150 for the week. Fair Administrator Lisa Kumfer said the spots are snapped up every year and extra requests go on a waiting list. The list usually has about three or four people on it, but has been as high as 10.
Jim Kropp, owner of Kropp Concessions of Green Bay, brings two RVs with him every year, one for family members and one for employees of his cheese curd business. The whole group travels to fairs across the Midwest from late June through October."It can be a headache getting in and out of a hotel," he said. "Plus, Marathon Park is one of the most beautiful spots I visit, and that's a plus.
"Though most vendors turn in early, Schwede said at night some campers sit outside to listen to the grandstand performers rather than join the large crowd at the front of the stage.
Others stroll among RVs and tents and talk about the day.
Bob Marcell, co-owner of Marcell's Specialties of Wausau, who sells fireplaces and stoves during the fair, stays in the campground at night. Camping allows his employees to enjoy the fair after their work for the day is done and still be ready to go early the next day.
The campground usually is calm and quiet at night, even as fairgoers leave the park, Marcell said."The majority of the people are looking at all the cops around there," he said. "They don't want to draw attention to themselves.
"Schwede, who serves on the fair board, said she always feels safe allowing her daughters, ages 17 and 19, to move around the midway and campground at night."We know a number of the families that come back every year," she said. "I've never felt unsafe."

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