‘She lived and breathed the fair’

Contributed Photo Despite health issues that required her to use a wheelchair, Melissa Jo Szucs was an active 4-H participant who looked forward to the county fair every year.

Contributed Photo A self-portrait painted by Melissa Jo Szucs in various shades of purple, her favorite color, won her a merit award and advanced to the state fair in 2013.

For 15 years, Shawano County Fair time was Melissa time.

Melissa Jo Szucs, a teenager from the town of Richmond, was a lifelong 4-H’er who cherished the county fair so much that she could barely bring herself to leave on closing day.

“Just one more lap?” she would ask, urging her parents to circle the fairgrounds one last time before heading for the exit.

For those who knew Melissa, it is hard to imagine that the county fair will go on without her this year. The little girl with the big smile succumbed to cancer June 18 at age 15.

Family and friends are making sure that Melissa is remembered when the fairgrounds, starting Wednesday, are filled with the excitement, fellowship and traditions that she treasured.

“She really believed that the fair should be every day of the year,” said her mother, Vicky Szucs. “It is kind of like home, and everybody comes home for a few days.”


SACF: 25 years of helping

Photo by Curt Knoke Barbara Schmidt is a co-founder for the Shawano Area Community Foundation, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Editor’s note: This is the first article of a monthly series celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Shawano Area Community Foundation.

Barbara Schmidt knew Shawano’s future as a place to work and raise a family would depend upon it maintaining a high quality of life. That was back in 1990.

The solution the Shawano businesswoman came upon was to establish the Shawano Area Community Foundation. She worked with Shawano real estate agent Ron Malueg and other volunteers to make it happen.

The SACF, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, provides a way for people to support the community for the long term, through nonprofit organizations and government, religious and educational institutions. It has awarded more than $2.2 million in grants over those 25 years.


Volunteer Profile

Photo by Carol Wagner Rebecca LaLonde is the president of Wolf River Harmony, a women’s a cappella barbershop chorus. The group sells cream puffs each year at the Shawano County Fair.

Rebecca LaLonde is the president of Wolf River Harmony, a women’s a cappella barbershop chorus. She is a Shawano native, graduating from Shawano High School.

After she married, LaLonde moved to the Upper Peninsula and started her own cleaning service. When she moved back to Shawano in 1980, she continued the service at several businesses. LaLonde then worked for Shawano County as a custodian and then a receptionist. When her position was eliminated, she worked for the city of Shawano Housing Authority.

Now retired, LaLonde lives in the Pulcifer area and has been married for 41 years. She has two sons and three grandsons.

Q How long have you been in Wolf River Harmony?

A “I’ve been with Wolf River Harmony for 14 years since 2001. I quit smoking and wanted to build up my lungs. I’ve always loved singing, especially harmonizing, so this seemed the perfect fit. It turned out it was.”

Q What does Wolf River Harmony do?


Nonprofit Profile

Photo by Carol Wagner Harlo Hillsberg, president of the Shawano County Conservation Association, is getting the group’s fair stand ready for the Shawano County Fair.

It has been around 32 years that the Shawano County Conservation Association has had a stand at the fair. Located near the grandstand, it features 10 tables where people can sit and eat.

“We have excellent burgers,” President Harlo Hillsberg said.

The five clubs in the association take turns working in the stand: Wednesday, Briarton Game Club; Thursday and Friday, Shawano Gun Club; Saturday, Cecil Fish and Game Club; Sunday, Shawano Fish and Game Club; and Monday, White Clay Lake Sportsman Club.

Carol Schneider, secretary/treasurer of the association, said she is there most of the time to help out and would like people to know that the stand is a good place to stop.

“Come down to our end,” she said “We have a place to sit with indoor seating.”


School back in session

It’s that time of year again when my emotions morph into schmaltzy-mode and I become a bit out-of-sorts. It happens every year when school is back in session and the house becomes quiet and still.

When the kids (in this case, our last one!) leave to go back to school, I always like to have a project lined up that takes my mind off what’s going on. This is our youngest child’s second year of college, for crying out loud! It doesn’t get any easier. The hustle and bustle has been silenced.

On one hand, I have always cherished solitude and treasure my alone time. On the other, I was destined to be a mom. I do so enjoy the chatter and busyness of children and, especially, young adults. My mothering instincts will remain in me until the Lord calls me Home. (Who knows, I’ll probably be mothering someone in Heaven.)


Hoping to give the boot the boot sometime soon

This past week seems to have been filled with “beeps” and “buzzes.” The beeps came from one of four smoke alarms in and near my bedroom, but which one was it?

One day, two batteries were replaced, but the beeps continued.

They were not sounding a serious alarm meaning fire, rather, it was an occasional beep that usually happened while I was trying to drift off to sleep.

A different alarm got a new battery, and now nary a beep can be heard.

While the situation with the smoke alarms has been averted, one more thing has been a source of frustration. Something that is quite common during the waning season of summer: A buzzy fly has snuck in through the door.


Community Education classes start soon

Registration is open for the Community Education classes that start in September. The classes cover topics as diverse as canning tomatoes, dementia and the iPad.

The fall classes include the following:

• “The Basics: Memory Loss, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease”: The class runs from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 1 in Room 103 of Shawano Community Middle School. Registration is due by Monday for the free class, which is designed to help participants understand the difference between normal age-related memory changes and more serious memory problems that should be evaluated by a medical professional. Vicki Johnson will lead the class.


4-H dairy cattle exhibitors excel at state fair

Contributed Photo The Shawano County team took first place in dairy herdsmanship in its size category at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Youth from Shawano County 4-H who exhibited dairy cattle at the 2015 Wisconsin State Fair won various individual and team awards for their efforts both before and during the fair.

The Shawano County 4-H dairy exhibitors won the first-place Herdsmanship Award for counties with under 18 head of cattle. Herdsmanship refers to how neat, clean and organized the dairy cattle exhibit is kept by the youth. Cattle must be kept clean at all times, bedding must be changed and fluffed daily, and the exhibit overall must be eye-appealing.

Exhibitors are also judged by how well they answer questions from fair spectators, many of whom have very little knowledge of the dairy industry. Multiple judges can walk through the barns at any time to view and judge exhibits, and judges often pose as spectators while asking questions of the youth exhibitors.


Project includes story of Stockbridge-Munsee

Storytellers from each of 11 sovereign nations located in Wisconsin share the unique histories of their people and communities in a new Wisconsin Public Television series of Tribal Histories documentaries.

The three newest programs, featuring the Ho-Chunk, Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican and Bad River Band of Ojibwe tribes, premiere on WPT at 9 p.m. Friday and are streaming online now at

Recorded in the beautiful natural settings of the regions that native people have called home for centuries, the programs feature rich retellings of the challenges, triumphs and time-honored traditions that have shaped their vibrant communities across generations.


Born Learning Trails grand opening planned

A grand opening will be held from 1-6 p.m. Sept. 17 to celebrate the new Born Learning Trails installed this summer at Kuckuk and Eberlein parks in Shawano.

The ceremony at Kuckuk Park will feature a brief introduction to Born Learning, refreshments and snacks, and a scavenger hunt featuring activities on the trail. All are welcome and families are encouraged to attend.

The trails feature several stations where children can play, learn, and use their imagination. The trails in Shawano feature nine stations, each with a different focus such as counting, letters, music and storytelling. Signs marking each station give directions, such as imitate a frog or duck, create a song, find a flower.

The local Born Learning trails highlight the unique cultural diversity of Shawano with signs in English and Spanish and many words in Menominee. Each station also features different Wisconsin animals created by a local artist.


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