No records for the Wisconsin State Fair
Hot and dry weather keeping entries slightly smaller in 2012
WEST ALLIS - While Olympic and World records are being broken in London, our drought and the heat is preventing records from being broken at the Wisconsin State Fair. Show pigs here may be up to 25 pounds lighter this year due to the dry and hot conditions southeast Wisconsin has experienced this summer.
It’s R.J. Ellingson’s 39th year showing pigs at the Wisconsin State Fair, he tells TODAY’S TMJ4’s Jesse Ritka that pigs appetite is almost lost when the temperatures soar, “You don't get any feed consumption on those days, so they don't gain any weight those days, so they've probably lost 30 days this summer where they didn't consume enough to gain any weight."
So owners are doing all they can to keep their prize pigs eating like… pigs. “You can put fans on them, you can put a sprinkler system on them, you can do a lot of different things but they will not eat until they get cool," Ellingson explains.
As a way to battle the Wisconsin summer heat, the State Fair added two 20-foot ceiling fans to help keep livestock cool in the barns. They plan to add four more in the next few years, as the budget allows because each fan costs $10,000. R.J.’s pigs have a spot right under one of the new fans, “I got the best spot in the WI state fair let me tell ya, I had to put the board on the other side because the fan was blowing the shavings out of the pen. I'm tickled to death.”
It’s not just the livestock that may be a little smaller this year; some of the vegetables may not have grown as large as in years past. The State Fair’s Kristi Chuckel says they are just waiting to find out if the drought has had an impact on the plants exhibitors bring in, "It will be interesting to see, I mean we may see a little difference as far as the size."
Chuckel says that the number of entries in the Horticulture building is about the same number as last years, and since the plants are grown specifically for the fair, there shouldn’t be as big of an impact on their size. “A lot of them are grown in greenhouses, especially when it comes to the veggies and the flowers. The people that are exhibiting take really good care of them, obviously they've been watering them a lot," Chuckel explains.
But she says you may see a little more green this year in the floral arrangements thanks to the weather, “I do know that a lot of the flowers did bloom early this year because it was so warm early, so I do think that will have a little bit of an effect as far as the blooming season shifted.”
But even though the dry and hot weather may prevent a state record ribbon, exhibitors say the fair is a welcome distraction from drought and heat itself.