Farmer Wants a Wife’s Grace Girard at The Depot Wisconsin watch party

Last summer, Grace Girard signed up for two things:

A horseshoe league with her dad at the Caledonia tavern where she’s a regular.

And, the Fox reality TV dating show “Farmer Wants a Wife.”

As we now know, Girard didn’t just make it onto the show, she’s one of Farmer Brandon Rogers’ final two daters. We’ll find out if he chooses her or dater Emerson during the finale Thursday night.

All season, The Depot Restaurant & Tavern — where Girard and her dad played horseshoes — has been hosting weekly watch parties in her honor.

“We totally support what she’s doing. We love that she’s putting Wisconsin on the map — Caledonia in particular,” said Sue Gracyalny, who owns the business with her husband, Mark. “And, we just think that she’s just a true all-American girl. She’s a good representation.”

At the end of April, Girard made it out to one of the parties. She got there about an hour before showtime with her two sisters and a close family friend.

“It’s actually so sweet,” Girard, 26, told the Journal Sentinel. “It’s honestly super-heartwarming to just see all of Wisconsin rally. It’s been really good to see the locals.”

That night’s episode was very special for Girard and her loved ones. It was the one where Rogers visited Caledonia to meet Girard’s family for the first time and get a glimpse into her life.

“He loved Milwaukee and Wisconsin,” Girard said. “He was like all the rage about it. So that was really fun. It was great to show him around, and it was super-emotional actually just to be like, ‘This is my world.'”

Dater Grace attends watch party at familiar Caledonia tavern The Depot

While the watch parties have been getting a turnout of between 10 and 20 people, the April 25 one when Girard was the guest of honor drew around 45. The business plugged her upcoming visit on social media and on a chalkboard sign in its entryway.

Some folks were there to brush elbows with the local celeb while others were bar regulars or fellow horseshoe leaguers. Several went up to Girard or stopped her as she walked by for photos or to sing her praises.

“Like I told Grace, we feel like we know her, so we have to come see what happens tonight,” Michelle Hoffman, a Sturtevant resident, said at the party.

“I’ve loved her since the beginning,” fellow attendee Tania Bishop of Caledonia said. “She’s just down to earth, easy-going with all the other girls. Just a sweet girl.”

After the episode got going, Girard hung out by a “reserved” high-top table surrounded by a group of her friends and sisters.

“It’s really cool seeing everyone come together for this,” said Abby Girard, Grace’s 22-year-old sister. “I think it is like the definition of Wisconsin is friends and family coming together. So, it’s really fun seeing everybody here and everybody just having a good time.”

When Girard came on screen, there were cheers. When Rogers’ other dater came on screen, there were jeers.

During that emotional moment where Rogers and his dog watched as the daters drove off, awes rang out in unison.

And when Caledonia was shown? More cheers.

“It’s so exciting,” Gracyalny said. “You can just feel the energy. Everybody’s so pumped up and having a great time… It’s really fun to have her.”

During the first commercial break, Girard turned to the crowd and asked: “What are your thoughts?” During other breaks, she made her rounds to other tables to mingle with attendees.

“I think (Girard) needs to be the one for Brandon,” party-goer Vicki Rosploch of Mount Pleasant said. “I think they have a good connection. I think they are very cute together.”

Gracyalny had Wisconsin-themed appetizers for guests to snack on. Yes, cheese curds were one of ’em.

After the episode was over, Gracyalny brought out not one, but two cakes. One said “Team Grace” with colorful cupcakes and a heart. The other had florals and said “Colorado” and “Wisconsin” separated by hearts.

“I’m just so grateful for all the support and I just want to thank everybody and all of the Wisconsin folks that have been behind me,” Girard said. “It’s been awesome. So, thank you all.”

Fish fry got dater Grace into The Depot. And, horseshoes kept her coming.

Girard first stopped into The Depot a couple years ago for a Friday fish fry. Then, just kept on going back.

Gracyalny and her husband bought the business — which opened in 1936 — in 2012. Gracyalny described it as a cozy, country, quaint place with friendly folks. The restaurant/tavern — with a focus on food from scratch — is known for its boasted chicken, Friday fish frys, an array of mac and cheese options, as well as grasshoppers and brandy Alexanders, she said.

“I just love that it’s a close-knit little bar and that it has everything you need,” Girard said. “It has amazing food, great drinks, super fun games and a TouchTunes — and I love it.”

Girard’s recs: The Wednesday sliders and brandy old fashioneds.

Girard and her dad — who viewers became acquainted with in Episode 11 — signed up for the establishment’s in-house horseshoe league last summer. The bar also hosts two traveling leagues.

“There’s something about surviving the long, cold winter, and then, the end of May, horseshoes is starting,” Gracyalny said. “We got the lights going outside, everyone’s out there pitching shoes and the music’s playing. It’s just like, ahh, summer’s finally here.”

As the league went on, Gracyalny said she got to know the bubbly, outgoing and super-fun person Girard is. Toward the end of the league’s season, Girard started mentioning to her that she was applying for the reality TV show.

“It was a shot in the dark, but she was going to give it a try and see where it takes her,” Gracyalny said.

As we’ve seen, it took Girard out to a potato and barley farm in Center, Colorado, where she spent weeks getting to know her farmer, fellow daters and farm life.

“It’s, like, unreal,” Gracyalny said. “It’s almost unbelievable. It’s like our brush with greatness. And, you just kind of look at everything in a different light when it’s somebody you know on there. It’s personal now.”

Gracyalny feels like she’s gotten to know Girard even better through the show, from her interactions with other daters to her individual interviews.

“She’s just making us Wisconsin-proud,” Gracyalny said. “We’re impressed with her.”

Thursday night’s finale airs at 8 pm CT on Fox. With The Depot’s kitchen closing at 7:30 pm, many watch-party attendees arrive around 6:45 or 7 pm, Gracyalny said.

On finale night, Girard will be in Nashville for a watch party, presented by Nashville Live! and hosted by the Season 2 cast members and finalists.