"It’s kind of neat to go there and say, ‘I remember going to the fair 10 years ago and seeing that guy or that girl sing," Michael Phalin, chairman of the fair museum committee, said. "You can look around and see what the projects were in the past. Some are the same, and some have completely changed."
The museum also features scrapbooks that include photos and newspaper articles of past fairs.
Members of the fair board spent the past week setting up items for the museum. Phalin said the board tries to incorporate different items each year.
(Rock County Fair 2015 preview HERE)
"It’s kind of a process of looking at everything we got. I know we got a lot of things in storage because the museum itself isn’t a large building, so it’s going through the items we have and keeping everything fresh and new," Phalin said. "This year, people might see a project or something they didn’t see last year. One goal is to change it up a little bit, so people have something different to see every year."
Most of the items are donated by residents. Phalin said former 4-H and FFA members will often donate their past projects to the museum.
Phalin said, "People have things like that, and we try to incorporate them somehow into the museum. Over the years, a lot of members of the fair committee have donated items."
Phalin said even though it’s too late to donate items to the museum for this year, people still may contact the fair board to donate items in the future. For more information, call 608-755-1470. There’s nothing in particular they’re looking for -- they just make do with the items they have.
The museum mostly is operated by volunteers.
"Most of them are older FFA or 4-H members, parents, grandparents and former leaders that are instrumental in getting items donated and setting up displays and volunteering to be in the museum during the fair," Phalin said. "We always have to have someone in there when the museum is open, so if you have questions you can come in and talk to them because they’re all associated with 4-H or FFA, so they’re all familiar with the programs and with a lot of the stuff that’s in there. So, they’re a good resource. They’re as much a part of the museum as the items, because they got the experience and knowledge, and they have been a part of the fair."
Phalin said the fair board encourages people to visit the museum and make it a part of their fair experience.
"We’re trying to get more people to come to the museum," Phalin said. "We’re not in a real flashy building, but hopefully as people are walking around they will see the museum and feel free to stop in and take a look around."
People can tour the museum as part of their fair admission.
"It’s a free museum," Phalin said. "You pay your admission to the fair and you just walk through and take a look."
The fair board is selling ceramic utensil jars this year as a fundraiser to help maintain the museum building. The jars cost $30.