County Fair Recycling, Elkhorn, WI

The Walworth County Fair, held annually in Elkhorn, WI receives over 160,000 visitors.

Strategies - the recycling program collects beverage bottles and cans used by the public.

Who’s Involved – The fair uses a waste and recycling vendor that also provides grounds crew services. County Solid Waste Division staff work with the contractor personnel to set up recycling containers. Volunteers monitor the program.

How it Operates - Contractor personnel helped Solid Waste Division staff put the recycling collection containers in place two days before the event officially opened. Twenty-three bins were set up this year (up from 22 the previous year). A pick-up truck was used to move collection containers from the storage building to the various areas of the fairgrounds. Collection containers were placed in the following areas:

  • Animal exhibit barns
  • Youth and adult exhibit buildings
  • Park
  • Kiddieland
  • Campground

Based on previous experiences we did not put any containers in the amusement ride area of the grounds (Containers placed there were filled only with trash).

Contractor personnel was asked to service the bins as follows:

  • All collection bins - once per day
  • Collection bins in the area of the animal exhibit barns and park - twice per day as needed.

The weather was quite warm again this year, so a significant amount of beverage was consumed. There seemed to be minimal contamination this year, compared to previous years. It seems that fair goers are getting used to seeing the containers.

The waste contractor personnel removed some, but not all, trash from bags.

Contractor personnel also provided some assistance the last evening of the fair by gathering six of the collection bins that were located farthest from the storage facility and bringing them to the bin clean-up area. Collection bins were cleaned and moved to the storage building by volunteers. Collection of the bins, clean up, and storage activities took approximately three hours.

Benefits - Having contractor personnel help put the collection bins in place on the grounds, and gather collection bins when the event is over is extremely helpful.

Nieuwenhuis Brothers, the trash and recycling vendor for the Walworth County Fair reported that 560 pounds of beverage containers was collected at the Walworth County Fair in 2005. The material collected fit in an 8-yd trash dumpster.

Challenges - Bees are attracted to the sweet liquid left in beverage containers and while they seem to be able to find their way into the recycling bins, they are unable to find their way out. When beverage containers are dropped into the bins, and when bags are removed from the bins, the bees are “stirred up.” Thus, there is a potential for someone to be stung.

Contamination of recyclables with trash materials continues to be an issue as well as how to address beverage bottles and cans that contain a significant amount of liquid.


  • Work with Fair Officials and Board Members to continue and expand the recycling effort, and designating an area that could be fenced off where containers could be kept for both beverage container and cardboard recycling.
  • Purchase a different type of beverage collection container (currently using the green PETE's bins)
  • Have fairground personnel or the trash vendor take over full responsibility for the set up, service, take down, and clean-up of bins.
  • Make sure recycling containers are available for all activities that take place at the fairgrounds during the year.

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