ELKHORN — Dedication to what they love to do is the key to success for Dennis and Linda Burmeister.
The couple travels every year to numerous fairs across the country, and they were honored at this year’s Walworth County Fair with the vendor of the year award.
The Burmeisters were surprised to receive such recognition.
“We are still humbled, shocked and surprised,” Linda said. “We aren’t exactly sure what went into the award, but we hope that it is because we serve a wonderful product.”
The Burmeisters operate both the Mr. Funnel Cake and the Java Junction coffee shop at the fairgrounds.
The couple bought the business in 1998 from Craig and Gloria Thorne. The stand has been part of the Walworth County Fair for 41 years, starting in 1978.
This year’s fair continued from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2 at the fairgrounds in Elkhorn.
The Burmeisters enjoy the Walworth County Fair, partly because it is close to home for them. They are originally from Lake in the Hills, Illinois, about 40 miles south of Elkhorn.
“We certainly enjoy this fair, and it is one of our favorites,” Dennis said. “The fair’s board has done a wonderful job with the fair over the years.”
Dennis said keeping Mr. Funnel Cake and the Java Junction going is some of the hardest work he has ever done in his life.
It takes 18-hour days to deliver what customers have come to expect.
“The people are what make you keep coming back,” Dennis said. “They really enjoy coming out to the fair, and we just really enjoy the people, the atmosphere of the fairgrounds, and it kind of takes you back in time.”
Running both stands side by side is a challenge that involves a lot of work cleaning the equipment and handling other details.
Once the stands are in place, there is still the necessity of keeping both equipped with inventory, some of which comes from out of state.
“It is a lot of work,” Dennis said. “People don’t realize how much time that it takes to prepare.”
The couple does 16 events a year, as they run for about seven months out of the year. They operate the stands virtually nonstop between June and October.
A motor home is their place of residence sometimes six to seven months a year.
“It is always great to come home for a day or two,” Dennis said. “If we are not at the fair, we usually have a day to get to the next fair.”