Ponytails to tiaras

Gloria Kesler named Wisconsin’s Fairest of the Fair


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Junior, non-teaching agriculture education major, Gloria Kesler crowned the 2016 Wisconsin State Fairest of the Fair. Kesler broke state records for being the first contestant to win the titles of the Wisconsin State Fairest of the Fair and Miss Congeniality.

There was once a little girl in overalls and a ponytail running around the farm with kittens in her pockets. This little girl was never afraid to get in the pen with the bulls and play. She grew up to be a fearless woman who believed in the industry that helped raise her. The University of Wisconsin-Platteville has new royalty among the student population. Gloria Kesler, junior non-teaching agriculture education major, was chosen as the 2016 Wisconsin State Fairest of the Fair.

The Fairest of the Fair program serves as a way to find a candidate that can spread the love and devotion of the fair program. The Fairest’s duties include being a traveling representative of the Wisconsin Association of Fairs and a public relations employee for the Wisconsin State Fair. However, there is more to Kesler than just the new crown and sash she adorns from fair to fair.

Her family has strong connections to the fair since both of her parents are on the fair board in Calumet County.  Kesler “grew up” on the fair grounds.

“I remember being stuck in the goat barn petting baby goats when my mom came frantically running for me because I was supposed to be in the show ring for pewee showmanship,” Kesler said. “I ended up showing in Polly Pocket sandals and a Strawberry Shortcake plaid shirt. The judge taught me the hard way that you always need closed toed shows in the show ring.”  From that memory on, Kesler’s passion for beef cattle continued to grow.

In 2013, she was able to have a 2-year-old heifer with a bull calf at her side that went to the national Pinzgauer show in Miss. Kesler was able to win overall female champion of the show. This moment was important for Kesler and her family who have only won one reserve champion in the past. As Kesler received her prize, her passion of showing Pinzgauer cattle was reaffirmed.

“To some people raising cattle is a day to day activity, but for me it’s a passion that was able to get me where I am today,” Kesler said.

The Heifer, Danni-Lynn, and the Bull calf, Sunny, can still be found grazing around the family farm. Sunny is now a full grown bull and travels to different farms and states to breed. He has a bit of a sweet tooth that his calves may have inherited.

“My dad’s birthday was over Labor Day weekend, which is the same as the county fair. I remember accidently leaving a piece of birthday cake out on the show box,” Kesler said. “Sunny decided to eat the whole thing and the only reason we knew is because the frosting covered his nose.”

The attraction to the Calumet County Fair and the passing of her grandmother led Kesler to run for Calumet County Fairest

of the Fair. Although not a requirement, she decided to run for Wisconsin State Fairest of the Fair. Kesler’s motivation and desire this time came from the passing of her “fair dad” who helped while her parents were busy on the fair grounds. From dragging stubborn cows, to the wash rack, to simply volunteering to help, he was always there for her.

At the Wisconsin State Fairest of the Fair competition, Kesler became the third State Fairest of the Fair from Calumet County, but she was the first ever to win both Wisconsin State Fairest of the Fair and Miss Congeniality. Along with a crown, the Wisconsin State Fairest gets a box full of sashes in a variety of colors, but only is allowed one by the end of her reign. Kesler has decided that purple will be the color she will keep because she believes it is the color of champions.  She also believes that purple is the color that shows all the hard work she has put in in order to get to this point in her life.

“Sometimes you go to bed with a couple bruises or calluses but, in the end, it is always worth it,” Kesler said.

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