County commissioner asks fair association to assure it’s cooperating with 4-H.

December 14, 2016
Lucy Shoup shows her sheep in the ring during the 2016 fair.

Lucy Shoup shows her sheep in the ring during the 2016 fair.

County commissioner asks fair association to assure it’s cooperating with 4-H.

#WesternMichiganFair #MasonCountyGovernment

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief. 

LUDINGTON — At least one member of the Mason County Board of Commissioners wants to assure that the Western Michigan Fair Association is maintaining a good relationship with its partners, especially 4-H. During the monthly meeting of the commissioners Tuesday night, Mike Stakenas, president of the fair association, presented the group’s annual report. When he was finished, Commissioner Bill Carpenter asked Stakenas for an assurance that the fair association was cooperating with Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H program. Carpenter further told Stakenas that he wanted to make sure that proof of cooperation was in place prior to April 2017 when the commission will be renewing the WMFA’s lease on the Mason County Fairgrounds.

Stakenas told the commission that the fair association has good relationships with all the organizations involved with the fair but that he would be reaching out to each of the stakeholders this winter.

“My plan moving forward is to have a meeting with all the pertinent folks and trying to make sure we have an understanding that there is cooperation with our groups,” Stakenas told MCP today.

In 2016 the fair association faced some turmoil when it was discovered the West Michigan Livestock Council had lost its 501(c)3 status with the Internal Revenue Service. The livestock council operates the fair’s large animal auction. That issue eventually got resolved and the livestock council was able to regain the tax exempt status, retroactively, Stakenas said. Five board members resigned from the fair association as a result of the turmoil.

The Western Michigan Fair is known as an “open” fair, meaning that youth entries of exhibits and animal auctions is not dependent on membership in clubs such as 4-H. However, most of the participants are members of 4-H clubs.

“We encourage our participants to be active in 4-H,” Stakenas said. “The programs offered by MSU are valuable for education and 4-H offers excellent leadership skills.”

The fair is held in August of each year.

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