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This State Fair bittersweet for Crocker family after loss of patriarch

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WEST ALLIS (WITI) -- As the Wisconsin State Fair wraps up this weekend, one family is reflecting on a bittersweet Fair season. This year was the first State Fair without Bob Crocker, who owned the root beer barrels that line the Midway -- a business that has been around for four decades!

As Ryan Crocker worked the root beer barrels this Fair season, he was reminded of his dad.

"You go through and do certain things and it just brings back memories of Dad.  Which is good," Ryan Crocker said.

Bob Crocker ran the family business, which brought its root beer barrels to nearly every summer festival in Milwaukee. He passed away in April, after a nearly two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Employee Martin Widder manned one of the half-dozen smaller barrels at the State Fair. Bob was his boss for the last seven summers.

"He built it up to what it is today. I still expect him to walk by. It's real sad. Just not the same," Widder said.

Now the business is firmly in the hand's of Bob's son, Ryan. Based out of Minnesota, the Crockers are finding comfort from their Wisconsin family this summer.

"We`ve always had a pretty tightknit group - long-time employees," Ryan Crocker said.

The Crockers plan to bring their root beer barrels to the Harley-Davidson 110th celebration during Memorial Day weekend, and also the Minnesota State Fair.