The Kids from Wisconsin program was conceived and developed in 1969 by the late Mark Azzolina at the behest of then Wisconsin State Fair Board Chairman, Herbert P. Velzer and Fair Administrator Vernon G. Wendland. They were acting on a request by the late Governor Warren P. Knowles who, given the turbulence of the late 60's, wanted to show the nation the best face of Wisconsin's youth.
Retired from the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant colonel, Azzolina hand picked a musical staff to select and train the Kids at their first 17-day camp. More than 400 young entertainers were auditioned, and 60 achieved positions in the first edition of the Kids from Wisconsin. Since then nearly 700 young artists have participated in the program with many going on to excel as performers, music educators, college professors, entertainers, choreographers and top professionals in a wide variety of fields. We are very proud of our alumni and the role the organization has played in their growth.
In 1982, Kids from Wisconsin, Ltd. became an independent, non-profit corporation. A board of directors was formed, and a contract was negotiated with the State Fair for daily performances during its 11-day run each year. Kids maintain offices at the Fair Park administration building in West Allis, Wisconsin.
Performances have included county fairs, festivals, and conventions throughout the continent. The musical revue has helped raise thousands of dollars for worthy charitable organizations. Kids from Wisconsin maintain a demanding schedule each summer, performing 65 to 70 shows during the months of June, July, and August.
Former KID and longtime staff member, Mark Dorn has served as Producer since 1996 and brings 25 years of experience as an educator, college professor, and professional musician to the KIDS program. Choral Director/Chief Orchestrator Taras Nahirniak and former KID and Choreographer Jessica Foley help to lead a fine artistic and tour staff that continues to put fresh and exciting shows on the stage each summer. Administration is handled by an Executive Committee comprised of the following volunteer Board members: President James P. Maney, Jr., M.D., Vice President Stephen J. Ziegler, Treasurer Thomas J. Nolte, and Charles A. Krause. Tamara Martinsek serves as Executive Director.
As a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, Kids from Wisconsin, Ltd. gains its major revenue from performance fees. Corporate funding, foundation grants and personal donations from the "Friends of the Kids" help to keep the program in a deficit-free position. Both the Wisconsin State Fair and Lands' End of Dodgeville, Wisconsin, provide major sponsorship.
We're proud of our past and our mission. We look forward to moving onward and upward in the years to come.