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               During the Chippewa County EDC's business of the year award program we take that opportunity to recognize one individual within Chippewa County who has displayed ongoing support for the county's economic development.  The 2016 Chippewa County Economic Development Leadership award winner is Rusty Volk!  Take a moment to read about Rusty's latest activities that support making Chippewa County a Great Place to Raise a Family and a Business.  

                Rusty Volk was hired as the Executive Director of the Northern Wisconsin State Fair Association during fall 2008. In this position, Rusty serves as the spokesperson in efforts to rebuild the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. During the past seven years, Rusty has initiated, coordinated, and completed diverse projects that have furthered the use of the fairgrounds. Fortunately, approximately 90% of project funding has been generated through fundraising campaigns coordinated by Rusty and active community members.

                Rusty is a graduate of the International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (IAFE) Institute of Fair Management and has attained his Certified Fair Executive (CFE) recognition by peers in the fair industry. He has conducted workshops and roundtable discussions at national and state conventions on STEM/STEAM youth education programs created at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair. Under his leadership, the Northern Wisconsin State Fair attendance has steadily increased with 84,750 attendees in 2015. As a result of fairgrounds improvements, Rusty has added 30+ annual events to the schedule, brining in over 155,000 people to Chippewa County with a total economic impact of $11.7 million.

                Fair income for fiscal year 2007-2008 was approximately $493K and total income was $535K. During the last fiscal year, 2014-2015, fair income was $797K and total organizational revenue was $947K. All revenue is utilized to enhance youth, education, and agriculture for the Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire region. The Chippewa Falls Lion’s Club and Kiwanis Club have built new food concession stands on the fairgrounds to accommodate increased activity and revenues. Holy Ghost parish has updated food vendor facilities, sponsor revenues have increased 10% each year over the past five years and Chippewa County Junior Fair animal auction totals have all increased substantially over the past five years.

                Through his involvement with the IAFE, Wisconsin Association of Fairs, and life experiences in farming, business, and fundraising, Rusty brings a wealth of knowledge to the fairgrounds. He currently serves as a member of the Village of Lake Hallie Planning Commission, active member of Holy Ghost parish, and Chippewa Falls Rotary Club. In addition, he has volunteered for Junior Achievement and the United Way. As the leader of the fairgrounds, he works closely with city, county, and state agencies to provide facilities for emergency training, planning, equipment use training, and multi-departmental coordination of drills for overall community safety.


  • Planning session developing a Mission, Vision and Values statement for the organization.  “Our mission is to provide up-to-date grounds and facilities that promote events and attractions enhancing the economic viability of our community”.
  • Master Concept Facilities Plan – 25 year plan for the Fairgrounds of the future
  • Community Center feasibility assessment- Feasibility study for a Chippewa Falls Community Center.
  • Electrical Grid Project – Replace Fairground Electrical infrastructure to include all electrical poles, transformers, primary and secondary electrical switches.  Underground electrical feeds to all major buildings and 27 electrical panels to address ever changing event electrical needs. 
  • Roof Projects – 7 major buildings have had roof replacements or major repairs to address leaking roof structures.
  • Replaced sanitation system & created underground utilities and grease traps for permanent food stands.
  • Fairgrounds Sustainability Project
    • Onsite recycling center and trash compactor
    • LED lighting in updating facilities
    • Replaced over one mile of water lines for potable water service for food vendors, animals and campers
  • Restroom Renovation Project – complete renovation of main restrooms
  • Tree Replacement Project – removal/replacement of old trees
    • Trees harvested on Fairgrounds are reused as rough lumber for siding and aesthetic needs
  • Picnic Table Project – Donor provided funds are used to purchase wood and materials for local high school projects.  Blue prints are provided to instructors who oversee construction of picnic tables built by students.  100 picnic tables have been built and are used for fairground events.
  • Flag Pole Project – Donor provided funds created the Northern Wisconsin Veterans recognition stone.  (must see area to appreciate)
  • Leinie Lodge (fairgrounds building) – new construction of beverage handling, storage, and event building.
  • Leinenkugel Pavilion – Multi-purpose building utilized for events, public safety and storage.
  • Fiber Optic access – Internet connections for Police, Fire-EMT, and community emergency response needs in three major exposition buildings.
  • WiFi service for vendor E-Commerce capabilities during events.
  • Asphalt resurfacing project to be completed Memorial Day 2016.
  • LED street lighting project along high traffic areas.

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