It’s all for the kids

 Rachel Waite, center, teacher at Ridgeland-Dallas Elementary School, accepts a $2,000 check from Alfalfa Fest representatives George Christenson, right, and Judy Lehman. The donation comes from proceeds gathered at the 2021 edition of Alfalfa Fest, which was held … at Prairie Farm’s Pioneer Park. Photo by Bob Zientara

School districts serving five school districts operating in three northwestern Wisconsin counties (Barron, Dunn and Polk) are the beneficiaries of some $12,000 worth of donations from last August’s Prairie Farm Alfalfa Fest, and a companion fundraiser known as the Hay River Plunge, which, like Alfalfa Fest also took place during the Fun on the Flowage event at Prairie Farm’s Pioneer Park (in February 2021).

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, Alfalfa Fest organizers George Christianson and Judy Lehman came to Ridgeland-Dallas Elementary School to present a $2,000 check to teacher Rachel Waite. The money represented the share of Alfalfa Fest proceeds which were donated to the Barron Area School District.

Formal acceptance of the donation will be on the agenda for the Barron Area School Board, which is scheduled to meet next Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, at Ridgeland-Dallas School.

Alfalfa Fest also made separate, $2,500 donations to the Boyceville, Prairie Farm, Clayton and Clear Lake school districts.

“We wait until the end of September” to make a determination about school donations, Christenson said in a phone interview on Sept. 7. “It’s because we’re gathering residual income from people who weren’t able to make it to the festival itself.”

Waite said that the previous Alfalfa Fest donation was used in many ways during the 2020-21 academic year.

“The funds were used to buy trikes for the playground, book bags, iPad kid-friendly covers, and a trip to the Barron Municipal Swimming Pool for 76 kids,” she said.

Alfalfa Fest dates back to 2003, after Christenson, who formerly had a farm in Dunn County, lost his wife to cancer.

Held in northern Dunn County over the next 16 years, the festival grew in scope and profits, which were first shared with three hospice organizations serving communities in Barron, Polk and Dunn counties.

In 2019, Christenson sold the Dunn County property and moved to a home farm that his family homesteaded in the 1870s. Alfalfa Fest moved along with him to its new location at Pioneer Park. The 2019 event generated about $30,000 in proceeds.