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Educator, school secretary gives fair office a try

Tammy Pitzen is the new secretary for the Pierce County Fair office, succeeding Ginny Huber. Pitzen spent time on the fairgrounds in Ellsworth as a youth and thought it would be exciting to be a part of the fair, which she described as a “great county tradition.” (Herald photo by Bill Kirk)

Tammy Pitzen has several reasons why she wanted to be the new secretary for the Pierce County Fair office, a role she assumed in December, succeeding Ginny Huber.

For one thing, the River Falls native spent time every summer on the county fairgrounds in Ellsworth while growing up and has fond memories of those days, she said. She also knows a lot of families across the county, having previously been an educator and school secretary in her hometown.

“It’s another dream job,” she said about helping plan the annual fair and referring to that school position as her first one.

In fact, Pitzen said she loved her time in the River Falls School District at Greenwood Elementary the past 10 years. Initially, she was a K-5 paraprofessional (teacher’s aide), then switched to the school office.

“I’d gone to school there myself,” she said.

Although the new secretary wasn’t looking for different work, she saw an ad in the paper headlined “Fair Secretary” and it intrigued her, she said. She told husband Brad, employed in building automations and plant operations at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, she was confident she could do the job. Besides, she believed it would be fun.

When she left the school in River Falls, it was a “sad day,” she said. Nonetheless, she now eagerly awaits seeing some of the students from there along with everyone as “the fairgrounds come to life.”

“I’m excited to be a part of this great county tradition,” she said, adding of what leads the list she anxiously anticipates, “of course, the pronto pups!”

Pitzen said she began her secretary responsibilities the day after Christmas and, that week, accompanied Fair Coordinator Ann Webb to the state fair convention in Wisconsin Dells. She learned what’s available for county fairs, ranging from various vendors to all kinds of entertainment.

“It’s a business…a full-fledged industry,” she said she soon realized.

Since occupying the secretary’s chair, she’s been finding judges for all of the open class categories, helping line up the commercial vendors and attending fair committee meetings, she said.

The former 4-Her in the Town and Country club lived on her family’s hobby farm as a youth, where her parents raised beef cattle, she said. The daughter of Gene and Donna has four siblings: Todd, Mark, Mike and Andrle. She remembers trying a wide variety of 4-H projects, including beef, photography and music. A particular favorite memory was her involvement in a musical.

A 1988 graduate of River Falls High School, Pitzen attended small business college in New Brighton, Minn., for a year, she said. At that point, she was unsure about a career.

She got married to a fellow RFHS grad. She said their first son, Zack, now 20, has Downs Syndrome. He was a 4-Her, too, showing his cat, “Elvis,” and joining in the therapeutic horse riding program. The couple also has a 12-year-old, Sy. When not at work, Pitzen enjoys spending time with friends and family, and going shopping.

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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