Jackie Menn (left) and Kayla Hach discuss fair plans while catching calves on June 24, while Kayla’s son, Samuel Menn, and stepdaughter, Nara Bevins, look on.
Jackie Menn (left) and Kayla Hach discuss fair plans while catching calves on June 24, while Kayla’s son, Samuel Menn, and stepdaughter, Nara Bevins, look on.

NORWALK, Wis. – Before the sun rose on the morning of June 24, the Menn family was bustling about their Lawn View Farm to prepare seven dairy animals to exhibit at the nearby Elroy Fair in Elroy. 

Lawn View Farm is an organic dairy farm near Norwalk, operated by Harvey and Jackie Menn and their family. They milk 65 cows, primarily registered Jerseys. 

Son Kyle, 17, will finish high school next year and works on the farm with plans of taking ownership. The Menns’ three adult children – daughter Kayla and her husband, Travis Hach; daughter Jenna; and son Ryan and his fiancée, Kalin Braun – are involved in the farm in varying degrees. Harvey also works off the farm as a technology education teacher at Brookwood High School.   

The Elroy Fair has been an important tradition in the Menn family since 2000, when a realignment of the Royall and Brookwood school districts allowed Brookwood area students to participate. All four children were raised exhibiting at the fair, including Kyle who participates through the Norwalk Clovers 4-H Club. 

Harvey was elected to the Elroy Fair Board in 2001. Jackie joined the board in 2002 and has served as the entry secretary since the 2003 fair. Kayla was named the 2011 Elroy Fair Fairest of the Fair. 

“I love that my kids have been able to grow up with this experience,” said Jackie, who did not grow up on a farm but took the opportunity to learn on a neighboring farm in Grafton. “I did not even join 4-H until I was 13, and then I got involved in the Ozaukee County Fair and served as the 1981 Ozaukee County Fairest of the Fair.” 

Once the normal farm chores of milking, feeding cows and calves and cleaning the barns were completed by 7 a.m., the frenzy of fair preparations began in earnest. Between locating lost halters, calves getting loose and lost cell phones, the activity and the laughs never stopped for long as the morning progressed. 

“If you can’t laugh at the chaos, you would just go crazy,” Jackie said. 

Harvey finished scraping the freestall barn, and Jackie cleaned and put away rabbit cages that had been used to take 20 rabbits to the fair for the show the day before. Kyle claimed the champion fryer and roaster, earning the right to sell both in the livestock sale. 

Kyle located the needed halters and began catching the animals that were going to the fair: three cows and four heifers. Five of the animals were Jerseys, while two were Normande crosses owned by Kayla.  

Kayla arrived around 8 a.m. with her son, Samuel Menn, and stepdaughter, Nara Bevins. Each had a rabbit and calf to show in the Cloverbud division. Kayla helped Nara catch her calf, and Samuel helped Jackie finish up the rabbit cages. They readied one cage to take the rabbits Samuel and Nara were going to show. 

“I’m going to the fair,” Samuel said. “I can’t wait.”

Once the animals were rounded up and the cages were cleaned, Jackie helped Kyle get the trailer hooked up. Once that was done, Kyle finished loading the final supplies. The Menns had bedded their stalls and put up the barn decorations the evening before, so most of the needed equipment was already hauled to the fair. 

“I’m not going to let the farm go,” Kyle said of his future plans while bedding the trailer to load. “I know farming is maybe not the best business to go into; it is a lot of hard work. My dad puts in a lot of hours between school and the farm, and then you are not getting paid very well.”

Getting all seven animals loaded onto the trailer took some effort, but with some ingenuity, the job was accomplished and everyone was settled in for the short ride to the fair. Harvey noticed a tire was a bit low, so he checked the tire pressure and added air in all the tires as needed. 

“It has probably been a couple of years since we have had this big of a load going to the fair,” Harvey said. 

Kyle headed out for the 23-mile trip to the fair at about 9 a.m. while the rest stayed back to finish things up and head over later in the day. Once Kyle arrived at the fair, he unloaded the animals into their stalls with the help of some friends. After readjusting, he was satisfied the animals would be comfortable. 

“I like everything about showing here at the fair,” Kyle said. “My mom is on the fair board, so I know a lot about what it takes to run the fair. I like being with friends and seeing everything that goes on. It’s small, so you basically know everyone here.”

While waiting for Kayla, Samuel and Nara to arrive to help him wash, Kyle helped others, including setting up showring gates for the livestock show on Friday. Kyle serves as a junior fair board member for the Elroy Fair.

“Being on the junior fair board, I help with things like picking up garbage and keeping the grounds clean and help with the judging and handing out ribbons and things like that,” Kyle said.

Once Kayla, Samuel and Nara arrived, the Menn family hit the wash rack with their show string. Jackie and Harvey arrived later in the day to make sure Kyle had everything under control with his group of animals. Harvey socialized before heading home for evening chores, while Jackie dove into her work overseeing all of the exhibits being entered in the fair and the preparations for judging. Kyle spent the remainder of the day caring for his dairy exhibit and visiting with friends until it was time to head to the milking parlor on the other side of the barn for the evening milking. 

“The fair teaches the kids so much,” Jackie said. “When it comes to exhibiting animals, nothing ever goes exactly as you plan it. They learn so much about facing adversity and persevering, problem solving and finding a solution. It is just a great way for them to learn and grow.”