Weldon Creek 4-H/Shoup family, 65 years at the fair.

July 15, 2017

Jim and Donna Shoup


The Land: Weldon Creek 4-H/Shoup, 65 years at the fair.

#TheLand #WesternMichiganFair

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

For the past year, Mason County Press has presented The Land, a series that focuses on local agriculture. In the next few weeks, we will feature special editions to The Land, in preparation of the 79th Western Michigan Fair, which is scheduled for August 8-12 at the Mason County Fairgrounds. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to launch this special edition than by featuring the Weldon Creek 4-H Club.

WELDON CREEK (Branch Township) — By most people’s definition, Weldon Creek is pretty much a ghost town. At one time, in the late 1800s, early 1900s, it was a thriving community, located on East First Street, west of Budzynski Road. It is named after the creek that is part of the Pere Marquette River watershed. The creek begins at the Romeo and Juliet lakes near the intersection of North Campbell and East Johnson Roads. It winds northwest just south of Hansen Road and then travel westerly under Larson Road and then starts to go south about two miles before it drains into the PM.

Today, while the actual town no longer exists, Weldon Creek certainly is still a vibrant community, at least for the Shoup family. This is also home to the Weldon Creek 4-H Club, which is about the same as saying it is home to the Shoup family, since the two are intermingled.

Weldon Creek 4-H Club began in 1952.

“I was a 10-year-old boy, which was the age at that time when you could join 4-H,” Jim Shoup recalls. “I wanted to be in 4-H and had friends in 4-H. They went to the fair every year and it seemed exciting to me.

Abe Shoup working with his steer.

“At that time, we lived on the highway (US 10), about a half mile through the creek (Jim points to the north). At that time, there were always motorists having car troubles. One day a car stopped in front of our house and the driver needed water for his radiator. The young man introduced himself to my mother as Dean Raven, he was the new Michigan State Extension Officer and 4-H agent. His wife, Marilyn was also in the car. Mom (Louisa Shoup) jumped at the chance and asked him where there was a 4-H club that I could be in. Dean looked around and saw all the kids in the yard and said ‘I think the best thing is for you to start your own club right here.’ And, that’s how the Weldon Creek 4-H Club began.”

In those days the club consisted mostly of Shoup and Ohse kids. Three generations later, the Shoups are still active in the club, consisting of most of the 32 grandchildren of Jim and his wife, Donna. The second generation of the club consisted mostly of Jim and Donna’s 11 children, many of whom are now leaders in the club.

The philosophy of the Weldon Creek 4-H Club hasn’t changed much in the past 65 years.

“We teach the values of 4-H: Learning, teaching, working together,” Jim says. “We have a lot of crafts now, but keep the practical aspect in mind. I think today there is a real need yet of kids growing up with knowing the why, where, when and who.”

Naturally, one of the primary focuses for the children is learning to raise, care for, and ultimately sell livestock.

Abe Shoup, grandson of Jim and son of Paul and Susan, says that being in 4-H has taught him responsibility. “There’s nothing like owning and taking care of your animal,” Abe says. “You have to work with it all summer long and show it at fair. There are other kids who get a job all summer but this type of responsibility is really rewarding.”

Abe raises steers.

“It’s really rewarding to take him to the fair and show all the work you’ve done all summer, sometimes in the spring and winter as well. That’s the most rewarding thing to me.”

Jim says his children were always active in academics, sports, and music, while in school. Raising animals for the fair often means not being able to participate in summer activities. “I often wonder if my children regret that,” Jim says. “Then I look around at our grandchildren and see them make the same choices and I see how active they are. We even have children who no longer live in the area who bring their kids back here to Mason County to be in the fair here. I think that just shows the importance and value that we taught our children and now they are teaching their children.”

When the Western Michigan Fair begins on August 8, the Shoup family will once again be there, celebrating its 65th year at the 79th fair. That’s a pretty good legacy.

For more information on the Western Michigan Fair, go to www.westernmichiganfair.com.

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