Opening a-fair in Walworth County
Kathie Benhart of the town of Geneva and Letha Kuecker of Elkhorn officially open the Walworth County Fair at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, by cutting a ribbon. Both have been supporters of the fair for more than four decades. Even so, when the two friends found out they were the honorary marshals, they were surprised.
“Becky Merwin invited us to lunch and we thought, 'Oh boy, what's going on now?' We were both very surprised,” Kuecker said. “Just never thought of it.”
Benhart and Kuecker also are co-chairs in the Youth Exhibits Building for the fair. When Joanna Fuller went over to the Barnyard Adventure, the fair asked Kuecker to take over. She immediately asked her friend to help her. So now, Benhart and Kuecker are there in the Youth Exhibits Building every day of the fair, working to present the youth projects in an attractive way and helping visitors learn about the 4-H program.
Both were teachers before they retired to spend more of their time volunteering.
Even though the Walworth County Fair has an open class for exhibits, the junior class attracts hundreds of entries from 4-H clubs, FFA and Boys and Girls Club members. There are so many projects to be judged that some of the junior exhibits are judged before the fair starts. That means Benhart and Kuecker have been putting in a lot of volunteer hours the past few weeks.
“We've worked together for years, ever since our boys were in 4-H,” Kuecker said.
Both women have two sons.
“We've done a lot together,” Kuecker said. “And we share the same values and thoughts.”
Benhart has spent 25 years working with the 4-H out-of-state exchange program. Kuecker has served on a variety of 4-H committees and boards.
Benhart and her husband, Bob, along with their son, Eric, have become involved in farm marketing.
“We do maybe half a dozen markets, selling beef, chicken, eggs and bratwurst,” Benhart said.
Eric stays involved with 4-H by showing pigs at the county and state fairs and selling pigs to 4-Hers for their projects. Karl, the Benharts' other son, is busy planning his wedding. But he is a terrific supporter of those family members showing at the fair, which now includes Eric and Cindy's children, Troy and Riley.
Kuecker and her husband, Richard, showed Holstein dairy cattle in open class at the county fair before their boys, David and Brian, started showing dairy as 4-H and FFA members. David, who is married to Sue, and Brian, who is married to Kari with two girls, are no longer involved in the fair. But Hannah and Morgan, the granddaughters, offered to help their grandma with prefair duties.
“They might not be active in the fair now, but the clubs were very valuable to them,” Kuecker said. “They met many of their best friends through the fair programs.”
For plenty of photos of the 2013 Walworth County Fair, see the photo gallery HERE.