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Chrissy Gluege, the new 33-year-old executive director for the Waukesha County Fair, grew up in house a five blocks away from the fairgrounds at the Waukesha County Expo Center.

Good thing, too, and convenient because Gluege spent her teenage years working at the fair, helping out with parking and admissions. She has continued that work as an adult, first, for many years, as the fair's vendor coordinator, then, starting April 9, as the woman in charge of the whole shebang.

Wisconsin's oldest county fair — this year marks the fair's 174th anniversary — has been something of a family tradition for the Glueges. At least three of Chrissy Gluege's relatives — her younger brother, father and uncle — volunteer for the fair and, like Gluege, have been involved for many years.

'The fair has evolved incredibly, in a really great way (over the years),' Gluege said during a recent interview.

She's determined to keep that train rolling.

This year's fair

This year's fair is scheduled to run July 20-24 and will incorporate new and familiar events in its packed lineup.

Among the returning attractions are the Fairest of the Fair competition, the junior livestock auction, truck and tractor pulls and hot air balloons as well as a host of concerts on the venue's stages.

New this year are pig, goat and duck races, which will be included in the cost of admission and will run at various times on all five days of the fair; a 'monster mural,' a massive coloring book page that can be filled in (with washable markers) by children and parents alike; and the Timberworks Lumberjack Show.

Also, the hard rock British-American band Foreigner will take to the fair's Miller Lite Main Stage around 8 p.m. July 22.

'It's always cool to bring in the special events,' Gluege said.

For a full schedule of events at the fair, and information on daily specials, visit the fair's website at www.waukeshacountyfair.com.

Advanced tickets are on sale now through July 19 at $7 for adults and $3 for kids ages 6 through 12. Admission at the fairground gates costs $10 for adults and $5 for kids.

Years of experience

Gluege said this year will mark her 17th year of involvement with the fair. She started volunteering in 1999.

'When I was old enough I would stand at the gates and help with admissions,' she said. 'It was a great thing to do in high school.'

She got involved after her father did; he used to be on the fair's board of directors. Her brother, a board member, runs the fair's side stages, and her uncle still volunteers for the fair.

She also has formed meaningful relationships with her colleagues, including her predecessor, Shari Black. They met in 2003, when Gluege became the fair's vendor coordinator.

'Working with someone hand-in-hand, it's always a level of admiration,' she said of Black, who stepped down as executive director in February.

'The biggest thing she always taught me was never to take anything for granted.'

'Doing the fair proud'

Long before she began working at the fair, Gluege was attending and enjoying it.

'It was what our family did in the summer,' she said.

To her, the livestock auction and the various competitive exhibits exemplify what's best about the fair: namely, the spirit of community, education and, of course, fun that infuses the event.

Imbuing the fair with that atmosphere, instead of diverting focus onto her own work, is Gluege's main goal.

'I'm always the person that's not about me,' she said. 'I'm more like the backseat person. I like seeing other people shine and the fair grow.

'My biggest goal is just to make and do the fair proud.'

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