Ag trail should start in Scottville.

September 15, 2014

Editorial by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief. 

On Friday, there will be a special ceremony at Historic White Pine Village in Pere Marquette Township celebrating the launching of two culture trails, each honoring the heritage of agriculture in Mason County.

The purpose of these trails is to present the visitor to our area with an experience beyond the traditional beach and camping experience. The Barn Quilt Trail will feature 8-foot by 8-foot colorful placards on privately owned barns, currently at 10 farms. The Agricultural Trail will bring visitors to various farms and farm-related businesses in Mason County (and Oceana County).

When these two trails were discussed in meetings during the winter, the Mason County Economic Development Task Force announced that the trails would be launched during the Scottville Harvest Festival. At that time, this reporter assumed that by making that announcement that the actual ceremony would be taking place in Scottville. This made sense since it is the Harvest Festival and Scottville has traditionally been the agricultural center of Mason County.

When I received a press release this morning announcing the ceremony would be at White Pine Village I was taken a little aback. So, I started to ask why.

“It is launching in conjunction with the Scottville Harvest Festival, and dignitaries from the festival will be speaking as part of the program,” said Kim Skeltis, who sent out the press release. “I am not aware of discussions regarding another location. That said, the reason for launching at White Pine Village is because the committee is putting the last quilt square into place so it made sense to combine the two activities and to provide a photo opp.”

Dr. Bill Anderson, director of the economic development task force, gave a slightly different answer.

“We are trying to make this a celebratory and media event,” he said. “Historic White Pine Village is a venue on both trails and we will end our short speaking portion by hoisting the last of 10 quilt squares up on the Jorrisen Barn using the old fashion method of block and tackle.  In addition, Ludington is one of the five finalist places to host an exciting new event called History Prize.  The organizer will be here on Thursday and Friday sizing us up and she will be attending our launch.”

When I asked folks from Scottville they preferred not to go on record with their response.

I try to keep an open mind about our county working as one for the better good of all. I do live in Scottville. Was born and raised there. I am a supporter of a joint chamber of commerce (an entity that is not involved with this endeavor for the record). I get it. But, I have to say that this feels like a snub to Scottville.

Wouldn’t this had made the perfect addition to the Scottville Harvest Festival? Why not have the ceremony at the Western Michigan Old Engine Club grounds? After-all that facility is completely dedicated to the preservation of agricultural heritage in our region. They have a barn there too.

Now I realize that many volunteers have worked hard on these trails and I mean no disrespect to them. But, I believe if we are going to promote unity in our county, for the betterment of increasing our tourism industry, it’s time we look beyond the unofficial boundaries of Ludington proper.

I would dare say that a good portion of the tourist dollars to this area come from visitors who come for the lakes and streams that exist in the eastern side of the county. If we are going to attract visitors to experience what agriculture is like, we need to actually bring them to where agriculture exists in this county. What better place to start then Scottville?


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