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Celebrating Summer: Darlington

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 7:53 PM CDT
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DARLINGTON, Wis. (WMTV) - There is so much to do and see across southern Wisconsin. That’s why the NBC15 team is heading out each Friday to a new location to celebrate summer as we move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, NBC15′s John Stofflet and Maria Lisignoli took a trip to the Lafayette County Fair in Darlington.

What to expect at the Lafayette County Fair

After a year of holding back on the full effect of the fair, the Lafayette County Fair is back.

Eric Stauffacher of the Lafayette County Board explained that last year, they still put on livestock shows last year, but did not have the carnival, tractor pulls or demolition derbies.

“We have the carnival back for the kids,” said Stauffacher. “It’s great to have more kids back, it’s great to have spectators in the stands and have way more exhibitors than last year.”

A few thousand people are expected to attend stock car races at the fair, Stauffacher added.

A look into historical buildings in Lafayette Co.

One of the most historic buildings in Darlington is the Lafayette County Courthouse.

The courthouse was built between 1905 and 1907. It was also once the setting for a scene in “Public Enemies,” which was filmed in 2008.

Joe Boel, author and retired register of deeds at the courthouse, was an extra in the scene.

“To me, the fun part was seeing how a movie made,” said Boll. “It was just very Johnny Depp walked in the door out there, and he’s got shackles on his ankles and as he’s walking in, and the director goes ‘cut cut cut. There’s too much glitter on them shackles.’”

Boll said courthouse is timeless.

Supporting downtown Darlington

The Lafayette County Fair brings in support for local business.

Mandy Johnson Darlington Chamber of Commerce vice president explained that the past year has been challenging for local businesses.

“We’re very fortunate, we are very proud of our local community, we are very proud of our citizens of the community and we had several businesses that opened out here in COVID and are still successful because we go out and support them despite whatever’s going on,” said Johnson.

Opera House restoration

The Driver Opera House was built in 1883. For 75 years the opera served as a cultural center and tourist attraction in Darlington.

The first floor was always used as retail space and still is. In 1951, the floor of the upstairs theater was found to be a hazard and it was shut down.

Community members and organizations have been raising money for years to fix it up and are excited to host their first theater performance in the partially restored space this fall.

”We will have again live entertainment in Darlington, one of the first times since the pandemic so we’re very very excited about that,” said Leona Havens, a member of the restoration team.

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