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Mroch nominee for Outstanding Senior

Walworth Fair is his Disney World

George Mroch checks in over the construction of a permanent structure for the Barnyard Adventure and Butterfly House of the Walworth County Fair. Mroch, who helped plan the building of the structure, is being recognized as an outstanding senior citizen at this year's Walworth County Fair.

August 24, 2011 | 07:50 AM
LYONS TOWNSHIP — George Mroch laughs a lot when he talks.

He laughs when he talks about the Walworth County Fair's permanent Butterfly House, which he helped plan and build.

Two years ago, he helped incubate the first batch of butterflies in his house when the summer weather grew chilly.

The 2009 Butterfly House recently received a first-place award from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions.

He laughs when he talks about being a member of the Master Gardeners Come Grow With Us program, which teaches horticulture in classrooms throughout Walworth County.

And he laughs when he says this is his eighth year as superintendent of the Barnyard Adventure at the Walworth County Fair. The fun and educational area for kids curious about country living has won 28 awards from the International Association of Fairs and Expos.

That's more than any other educational fair exhibit in the state, even at the Wisconsin State Fair, Mroch said with a laugh.

The Barnyard started out with small stations for kids to learn different agricultural chores, including picking apples, planting seeds and milking a cow.

Mroch, who lives in the town of Lyons with his wife, Constance, or Connie, as she prefers, is one of this year's Walworth County Fair's Outstanding Seniors.

Mroch said he's lived in Walworth County some 40 years. For 34 years, he worked as an electronics technician.

Now retired, he is anything but inactive.

In January he received the VIP Award from the Wisconsin Association of Fairs.

He is a past president of the Walworth County Master Gardeners and won the Master Gardners's Award for the most volunteer hours per year.

Finally, this year, the patio behind the Butterfly Barn goes green.

Once on Elkhorn city water, the patio now uses recycled rain water stored in a 1,000-gallon reservoir to nourish the patio's plants and flowers on the 600-square-foot patio.

Mroch helped spearhead the project, which was paid for through the sale of paving bricks that will line the patio.

Buyers etched their names, the names of their families, or their businesses on the bricks to show support for the county fair.

"To us, it's the fair and the only fair," Mroch said. "It's become my love and passion."

Mroch said his two children went through 4-H and participated in the fair.

Daughter Sue Slack lives near Lake Geneva and has four kids.

Son Michael of Elkhorn has a daughter and a son.

The oldest grandson is now through with 4-H and on his way to college, but other grandchildren will pick up the 4-H banner and continue the Mroch family's fair tradition.

While his profession was electronics, Mroch said he's deeply interested in gardening and horticulture. That grew out of his childhood, when his mother maintained a two or three acre garden, and all of the children were expected to help maintain it.

Then, gardening was a chore, said Mroch. Now, he said, it's his way of relaxing.

In fact, Mroch said his dream was to work for Disney World, not as an electronic technician, but as a horticultralist.

He said the Florida entertainment park has wonderful examples of the art of flower cultivation.

But, Mroch adds, he's not heading to Disney World any time soon.

"I guess the Walworth County Fair is my Disney World," Mroch said, laughing.

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