In order for a fair to receive state aid for premiums (prize money), the fair must follow specific requirements as outlined in Chapter ATCP 160 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code. Portions of this code begin on page 12 in the fair exhibitor handbook.
Judges are hired to place the exhibits depending on the different type of judging used. These judges are selected from a list of individuals who are registered with the state Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection. No exhibit may be given a higher premium or rating than it deserves in comparison to the standard for its class. Articles not deserving of a placing shall not receive one. The judge’s decision is final. There are four different types of judging:
Danish Judging: In most departments of the Junior Division, the Danish system of judging is used. All the entries in one lot number are arranged together so the judge can compare the items to a “standard” and to the other entries. The judge then has to decide what placing (ribbon) to give each exhibit. The judge must give the placings according to the Danish judging system (see chart below). The numbers in parentheses show the number eligible for a placing if the maximum number is given in each placing. For example, if there are 10 entries in a lot number, the judge can give only 2 blue ribbons (1st place), 3 red ribbons (2nd place), 2 white ribbons (3rd place), and 3 pink ribbons (4th place). The judge does not have to give the maximum number in each placing depending on the quality of the exhibits. In the example of 10 entries, if the judge does not feel there are any that are worthy of a blue ribbon (1st place), the judge may choose to give up to 5 red ribbons (2nd place) instead.
Face-to-Face Judging –This is another type of judging found in some areas of Junior Division. This system was designed to make the fair and judging experience more educational for the exhibitors. For face-to-face judging, exhibitors must be present at the time of judging and talk to the judge about their entries. The judge gives the exhibitor ideas about how the exhibit could be improved. The judge does not have to follow the placing numbers of the Danish judging system.
Conference Judging –This is another type of judging done in Junior Division. Basically it means several exhibitors gather at one time with their project items. The judge briefly discusses each exhibit with the exhibitors and uses the information in making the placings. This is often done by requiring all exhibitors in one class to discuss their projects with the judge at the same time. The Danish guide is still used for placings. This is the type of judging used mostly for the animal.
Regular Judging –This is the type of judging used in Open Division, and in some areas in Junior Division. In this case, the judge can select only one first-, one second-, one third-, and one fourth-place exhibit among the items in that lot number, depending on whether the judge feels the exhibits are worthy.
A list of the judging schedule can be found on the Fair Website. Any questions, please contact the UW Extension office at 715-539-1072 or Cindi Christiansen at 715-218-7649.