The Wisconsin State Fair announced today that the 2019 fair will not permit sticks in any of its festival foods.
"It’s going to be a stick-less fair experience this year," says Julie Krupp, PR director for the Wisconsin State Fair, who cited a variety of reasons for the decision, including safety and environmental concerns. "This will be better for everyone. Namely the entire planet."
Every year, the Wisconsin State Fair blasts through roughly 81,000,000 thin, wooden sticks which are inserted into hundreds of different foods during the event’s 11-day run.
"This year we will use exactly zero sticks," says Krupp. "Which means zero trees will be sacrificed ... well, with the exception of those needed to make the 13,000,000 printed maps of the grounds and the 180,000,000 rolls of toilet paper we go through every year."
Krupp says that, in addition to supporting good environmental stewardship, the Fair also wants to avoid sticks the safety issues which have come to light in recent years.
For instance, at the end of the 2018 Wisconsin State Fair, the Red Cross reported at least 13 stick-related injuries during the fair, including three slivers, one punctured eyeball and a throat laceration endured by a woman who swallowed a stick "she could have sworn" was edible.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers drove his solar-powered Harley-Davidson from his tiny home in Madison to West Allis on Friday to personally thank State Fair officials for their decision to remove all sticks from State Fair foods.
"The tradition of using sticks in fair food has been around for 168 years, but Wisconsin must change with the demands of the times," says Evers. "This is not the first time the fair has had to make a difficult sacrifice to adopt more-evolved thinking. In fact, it was just decades ago that they eliminated the freak show in the carnival area. I remember paying two dollars to see the world’s only ‘Sloth Boy.' Twice. Once by myself and another time I took my mother. I'm not proud of that."
Krupp says she is encouraged by other initiatives which have been enacted across the state and beyond. For instance, since 2015, numerous local restaurants have either eliminated the use of straws or switched to more environmentally-friendly straws made from recycled materials.
"We looked into using sticks made from furniture left on curbs, but the health department wasn't wild about the idea," says Krupp, adding that since 1851, the Wisconsin State Fair have displayed the attractive sticks in everything from shark meat to Snickers bars; from bacon-wrapped bananas to bulls' balls.
"I think the corn dog is going to be the hardest for fairgoers to let go of," says Krupp. "It’s almost barbaric to ask someone to eat a wiener inside a bread product with their hands."
Friday’s announcement incited a mixture of both agreement and confusion among fairgoers.
"I’m fine with the State Fair going stickless as long as I can still get my Cajun-glazed, deep-fried, cheese-dipped turducken on a stick," says Mitzi Plimpton of Menasha.
When Plimpton heard that the Cajun-glazed, deep-fried, cheese-dipped turducken would not be available on a stick in 2019, she responded with frustration.
"This is too much. Just too much. What next, they’re going to say we can’t smoke on the Skyglider?" says Plimpton. "Seriously, I’m about to tell the State Fair where to stick it."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.