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Blue ribbon directors: Volunteers are driving force behind county fair
Judy Hanson, treasurer of the Green County Fair board, and Nathan Hartwig, board director and assistant superintendent of dairy, have completely different job responsibilities, but it takes both of them, and everyone in between, to make the fair a success year after year.
MONROE - Putting together the annual Green County Fair requires a team of dedicated volunteers. Here's a look at two of the directors who serve on the Green County Fair Board, and help make sure the fair runs smoothly:

Judy Hanson

The bright lights of the midway carnival rides, the roar of the grandstand tractor pull and throngs of fair-goers surrounded Judy Hanson as she walked the Green County Fair Thursday night in Monroe.

"It doesn't bother me," she said with a shrug and a smile.

Before her walk through the fair tents, she was in her office at the fair administration building, writing checks and counting out cash.

Hanson has been involved in the county fair for more than 50 years, starting as a member of the Richland 4-H Club as a child.

Today she is treasurer of the fair board, a far more complicated position than just tracking the finances.

Hanson redesigned the fair's website, sends out the press releases and is the only one handling all the online ticket sales.

"Starting in February, I type up the copy of the fair book, with the help of the Extension office," she said.

A lot of what Hanson does sounds like the job for the secretary, but Hanson objects.

"Oh, no, the secretary has enough do to," she said.

All directors are required to have 4-H experience, through their own participation or their children's.

But Hanson brings a unique experience to the fair board from her 34 years as a secretary at the county's University of Wisconsin-Extension office, where her work focused greatly on the 4-H clubs.

"They needed a secretary, so I applied," she said, "and I got to know the (4-H) families."

Hanson has worked for the U. S. Natural Resources Conservation Service for the past 12 years, but she volunteered with the fair board and ended up on the board five years ago.

All the directors are volunteers, and Hanson doesn't know how many hours she works each year for the fair association - but she does it all at nights and on weekends.

"We will start in September planning for next year," she added.

Even though the fair fills much of her free time, Hanson still finds time to enjoy her crafts and runs a craft business with her sister. Among her skills, Hanson embroiders and sews doll clothes.

She still enters 12 to 15 exhibits at the county fair each year, usually in home furnishings, clothing and cultural arts open classes. Exhibiting at the fair is something she has done since she was 11, Hanson said.

And yes, she is still bringing home blue ribbons.

Nathan Hartwig

There's a job nobody wants to do at the county fair, but Nathan Hartwig, a director on the Green County Fair Board and assistant superintendent of dairy, is up and on his way by 5 a.m. every day to do it.

The job? Clean up cow manure.

Hartwig pushes the stuff up in piles five or six times a day, and has it loaded into silage trucks to be hauled off the grounds twice a day.

About 250 head of cattle come onto the fair grounds, according to the fair administration office estimates.

Hartwig said he didn't know the exact number, but "the barns are full and two tents were set up," for the overflow.

Hartwig joined the Fair Association about five years ago, after years of being involved in 4-H himself, and then with his three daughters, and then with three grandchildren.

And the fair-family line goes back before Hartwig. A 1945 photo of his father Kenneth, grandfather William, and uncle Bryon winning the "First Prize Hitch" hangs in the fair's administration office. Hartwig said his family bred and sold registered Percheron, a breed of draft horses, at the time.

So what gets Hartwig into the dairy barns so many times a day, besides the obvious need for cleaning?

"I like cows," he said with a little grin. "It's all I ever done all my life."

Hartwig served as the Clarno 4-H dairy leader for 25 years, and his wife Donna was the general leader for 28 years, before they decided to retire from the 82-member club.

But Hartwig didn't retire his love of the Holstein.

"Oh, I love the fair. I could go to the fair every day. I could go to a cow show every day," he said.

But the 2011 Green County Fair comes to an end Sunday. By noon Monday, Hartwig will have every corner of the barns cleaned completely, with a lot of help from the 4-H dairy exhibitors headed to the state fair.

"It's a win-win situation," he said. "They get paid to help, and we buy them all the pizza and pop they can eat."