Well done Western Michigan Fair Association!
Editorial by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.
I love the fair. I believe it is the iconic annual event that defines rural America and I am thankful that Mason County is blessed to have a high quality fair as the Western Michigan Fair. The fair is certainly timeless and brings a certain level of nostalgia. But, I think it also brings more than just that.
The fair brings wholesome entertainment to thousands each year and it also brings a message of hard work and accomplishment. It is a melting pot and gathering place of the people from our communities. It is a time for individuals and businesses to showcase themselves.
As a journalist, I have the honor of documenting the hard work and accomplishments of those participating in the various competitions, the majority of which are children. I love photographing the competitions and the winners. I love seeing the kids grow each year and generations of the same families continuing the tradition. Some of those include the Shoups/Gaudettes/Kellys, the Knizackys/Shoops, the Creggs/Babbits/Crawfords, etc. It’s great to see new, young families starting their fair traditions as well.
Employers, take note, these are the kids (and eventually adults) who you want to hire. At an early age they learn the value of taking care of animals or devoting themselves to a project. They learn leadership skills, public appearance skills. They learn how to look an adult in the eye and talk about their animal. They learn to dress properly and how to show up on time. They also learn the realities of this world, that farmers raise animals for the purpose of feeding this nation. They certainly learn to love their animals and also learn to accept letting it go. They also learn how to win and how to lose, which is probably the most important lesson of all.
The fair would not happen if it weren’t for the dedication of the Western Michigan Fair Association board members. This small group of volunteers worked tirelessly throughout the year to assure that they put on the best fair around. They take great pride in this event and it shows. It is always a pleasure working with each one of them every year.
Special recognition also needs to be given to the parents who dedicate so much of their time and energy to assure that their children learn the valuable lessons the fair teaches. Further recognition goes to the buyers who come to the annual animal auction and financially support the children. These buyers are your local business owners.
I grew up at the fair. My family owned a John Deere dealership and every year it was a big deal to bring the tractors and equipment down to the fair (we actually brought equipment to the Oceana and Manistee fairs as well). As an adult, I now enjoy bringing my children to the fair. They look forward to it and talk about it all year. This was the first year that they participated in the fair as well. Though we don’t raise animals, my kids are 4-H club members and entered crafts and floriculture. They even won some awards. I am looking forward to our fair traditions to continue.
Thank you Western Michigan Fair Association for putting on another great event. Your hard work certainly paid off and it shows.