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AUGUST

8-12 2017

79

th

ANNUAL

FAIR

WESTERN MICHIGAN FAIR ASSOCIATION

photo submitted by BRENT COLLINS

MASON COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS

2016 Fair Photo Contest Winner Brent Collins

LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS

THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 2017


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Ludington daily newS/WESTERN MICHIGAN FAIR | THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 2017

2017

Western Michigan Fair August 8-12, 2017

Look at what’s NEW this year!

Farmer for a Day Scavenger Hunt

SUMMER Stampede 5k Fun Run/Walk this year will include SIZZLING Meet a NEW 1k Fun Run/Walk for children The New SING Mascot OFF! Pig! Your Favorites are Returning! HARNESS RACING RETURNS!

Tractor & Truck Pull! Tuesday – Opening Day, Family Buck Night Adams Chainsaw Carver Goat Mountain • Musical Fireworks Kids Day – free back packs, 2 bicycles given away, games and prizes Exhibits, rides, fair food and so much more.

Mason County Fairgrounds

Located on US-10 between Ludington and Scottville www.masoncountyfairgrounds • 231-843-8563


THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 2017 | Ludington daily newS/WESTERN MICHIGAN FAIR 

Harness racing returns

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By Carmelitta Tiffany Daily News correspondent

When Mason County was settled in the 1870s, most families had at least one horse for transportation and working the fields. Most folks were proud of the efforts they put into their horses and the ability of their horse to maintain speed and competitiveness. As a result, when owners on their horses met on the roads there were frequently contests of speed and even endurance. Racing and competition — before the advent of automobiles and freeways — was a year-round pastime. In the winters, racing took place on snow and even ice. As the community grew, the racing was moved to the fairgrounds — initially where Ludington High School’s Oriole Field is located now, then to Culver Park (where the City Marina is located), and then to the present-day Mason County Fairgrounds. These organized harness racing events often brought horsemen from outside Mason County, sometimes even other states or Canada, depending upon the incentive — money or competition. The revival of harness racing in Mason County begins Sunday, Aug. 6, when the Western Michigan Fair Association opens their newlyrestored track for the first harness race in almost a decade.

Harness racing returns to the Western Michigan Fair this year, it’s been almost a decade since the last Harness race here.

The motivation behind the reinstatement of harness racing is not primarily nostalgic in nature, according to Marcia Hansen, communications director for the Western Michigan Fair Association. It comes down to the projected effect of the sport on the agriculture industry within the state. “Harness racing has been a part of the fair scene from the very beginning. It came

to a halt in 2008 in Mason County, when the Michigan Department of Agriculture discontinued the financial support of the racing program for county fairs,” Hansen said. The decision came during the downturn in the economy, and the Michigan legislature chose to cut the funding to the Department of Agriculture – Fairs & Racing Division. Casinos (Racecinos) became the place for

race fans to watch and bet on harness races that were held at pari-mutuel betting tracks. “Many county fairs chose to tear out their tracks because they did not see a future return of harness racing,” Hansen said. “Today there are only two pari-mutuel tracks remaining in Michigan, and not very many tracks at the county fairgrounds.” But then the legislature

Jeff Kiessel | Daily News

noticed that the lack of tracks and participation in harness racing not only hurt county fairs, but also the state’s agricultural industry. “A curious thing has happened in the last few years, though. Our legislature was made keenly aware and recognized what an economic impact the industry had on agriculture,” Hansen said. See Harness Racing, page 11


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Ludington daily newS/WESTERN MICHIGAN FAIR | THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 2017

Public can compete in open class division

By Carmelitta Tiffany Daily News Correspondent

Michigan has 86 county fairs that entertain, exhibit, demonstrate and promote the agricultural arts of livestock, horticulture and hand-made clothing and foods. The Western Michigan Fair brings the excitement of a county fair to Ludington and Mason County and this year celebrates its 79th year of operation this year. Educational activities, such as 4-H, Future Farmers of America (FFA) and similar youth development programs, are highlighted throughout the fair with booths created by 4-H groups, large- and smallanimal shows and auctions and Fair Ambassador competitions. With the exciting grandstand events, carnival rides, games and food concessions, there is lots of fun to be had at the fair, but oftentimes, a very special feature of the fair gets forgotten. One of the trademarks of the county fair that makes it different from a festival is the friendly competition of gardeners, craftspeople and farmers, young and old, who enter their hand-hewn goods to be judged for quality amongst its competitors. Called “Open Class,” both adults and also youth ages 3 to 19 and who are not associated with an organized youth group are judged together. There are no fees to en-

‘The fair is a great place to demonstrate the talents and skills of Mason County residents,” Hansen said.’ Marcia Hansen Communications Director Mason County Fairgrounds

ter Open Class, but there is an entry fee in the livestock area. Open Exhibits are judged first, second or third, and there are more 1,500 different types of entries in the Open division that can be submitted — from canned pickles to crocheted bedspreads, from flower arrangements, baked goods and fresh fruits and vegetables to photography, quilting and woodworking. In youth classes, the Danish system of judging is used. All exhibits are award-

ed A, B or C. It is based on the youth’s age and difficulty of the project and what the finished project looks like. There are more than 1,800 classes in the youth class. Best of Show winners are chosen in each department, and they are invited to compete at the Michigan State Fair during Labor Day weekend in Novi. The Michigan State Fair is the oldest state fair in the country, beginning in 1849. Many people think that they must be part of an or-

ganization like 4H or the Small or Large Animal Council to enter items for judging at the Western Michigan Fair. The beauty of the county fair is that competition in the open class is open to all residents of the county. Marcia Hansen, communications director for the Western Michigan Fair Association, encourages anybody who has considered entering their own work in the fair to do so. “Most generally, it is adults who are more nervous about exhibiting,” she said. “I think they feel there are so many more who do a better job than they do. I wish more would bring their hand goods, flowers and fruits and vegetables that they have raised, because fewer and fewer peo-

ple have these skills, and it might inspire others to learn.” Judges aren’t aware of the exhibitor’s identity as they look over the entries, as the items are numbered. “In the animal areas, judges are chosen for the most part from lists compiled by MSU Extension,” Hansen said. ”These individuals must meet a criteria and are evaluated by the fairs they judge, so that they can remain on the lists. In some cases, breed associations have lists of potential judges who can be also used. These people have to be contacted early on because they get booked and would not be available. See Fair, page 5


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THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 2017 | Ludington daily newS/WESTERN MICHIGAN FAIR 

Fair: Judging and entry From page 4

The still (non-animal) exhibits typically are judged by experts in their field. They may come from extension offices from counties close by, the educational community and business.” Hansen suggested that prospective exhibitors prepare for the fair by looking over the Fair Book, located online at www.masoncountyfairgrounds.com, and click on the “fair book” icon. The fair books are also available at many locations, such as the extension office, senior centers and various places of business. Hansen said the exhibitor rules, different classes and the exhibitor form are located in the fair book. Those who want to participate should fill out the form with

the classes they wish to enter and bring the entries and the form either on Sunday, Aug. 6, from 1 to 4 p.m., or Monday, Aug. 7, from 2 to 6 p.m. “Still exhibits are all at the west end of the grounds, and all the animal exhibits are at the East end of the grounds. There will be volunteers throughout the grounds to help you. There are no fees to enter, but this year premiums will be paid on 1-2-3 places,” Hansen said. Hansen said she hopes as more entries are submitted that the public will be educated by the diverse and interesting displays throughout the domestic arts, horticulture and food buildings. “The fair is a great place to demonstrate the talents and skills of Mason County residents,” Hansen said.

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Ludington daily newS/WESTERN MICHIGAN FAIR | THURSDAY, AUGUST 4, 2016

2017 Western Michigan Fair schedule Tuesday, Aug. 8 Opening Day - Dollar Day Fair Entrance $1 - All Rides $1

1 p.m. Gates Open 3 p.m. Midway Opens 4 p.m. Hayloft Entertainment Tent 5 p.m. West Shore Bank Family Buck Night *First 500 children thru the gate receive $1 bill

7 p.m. Michigan Tractor and Truck Pullers Grandstand event – admission $10 10 p.m. Fireworks to Music with Danny V Sponsored by Ludington Beverage and Oakview Medical Care, (Free to fairgoers) 11 p.m. Midway closes

Wednesday, Aug. 9

Thursday, Aug. 10

Kids Day Fair Entrance $3 per person - 5 and under FREE

Hero’s Celebration Day Fair Entrance $3 per person - 5 and under FREE

Noon Midway Opens Noon-5 p.m. Kids Day Activities Wristbands $15 * Wristband expires at 5 p.m. Ride Wristbands $20 or $17 with coupon (Bike drawing, grandstand, 5 p.m.) Sponsored by T.J. Schmidt & Company, All Seasons Porta-Jons and Ludington Daily News

All veterans and senior citizens admitted free, shuttle service from parking lot will be available

1 p.m. Hayloft Entertainment Tent 6 p.m. Marek’s Music Makers Hayloft entertainment tent

2 p.m. Hay Bale Toss Contest Sponsored by TBA, Beef & Dairy show ring - free to fair goers

6:45 p.m. Western Michigan Fair 2017 Homemaker announced (east end of community center)

3 p.m. Midway Opens Ride wristbands $20, $17 with coupon

7 p.m. ATR Monster & Mega Trucks Sponsored by Avenue Tire and Service, Ziehm LP Gas, Watson Ludington and Auto Ranch, Grandstand event - admission $12 11 p.m. Midway closes

Fair Entrance is $3 per person (5 and younger enter free)

Ride wristbands are $20 or $17 with coupon Wednesday through Friday

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Noon-2 p.m. Special Kids Day Sponsored by Safe Harbor Credit Union (Children eligible for this special event will be by invitation only and given an ID badge through the West Shore ESD.)

3 -11 p.m. Read for Rides 5 p.m. Livestock Auction held in Show/Sale Barn 5 p.m. Musical Vocal Talents of Shoreliners (located at the east end of the Floriculture building) 5 p.m. Half time tribute to area Veterans Everyone welcome to attend 7 p.m. Garden Tractor Pull Grandstand event, free to fairgoers 7:30 p.m. Sizzling Summer Sing-Off Finale! 11 p.m. Midway closes

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THURSDAY, AUGUST 4, 2016 | Ludington daily newS/WESTERN MICHIGAN FAIR 

2017 Western Michigan Fair schedule Friday, Aug. 11

Saturday, Aug. 12

Fantastic Friday Fair Entrance $3 per person - 5 and under FREE

Fair Finale Fair Entrance $3 per person - 5 and under FREE

Mega Ride Pass Pre-purchase a week-long ride wristband for only

1 p.m. Gates Open 3 p.m. Midway Opens

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5 p.m. Pedal Pull for Kids Held in Show/Sale Barn, sponsored by Easy Living Flooring

8:30 a.m. 5th Annual Stampede 5K Fun Run/Walk 9 a.m. Barn Brawl (Youth wrestling - located in the Show/Sale Barn) 10 a.m. Gates open

7 p.m. SJO Supercross Grandstand Admission $10, Pit passes $12

12 p.m. Midway Opens Ride wristbands $20.00

11 p.m. Midway closes

7 p.m. Night of Destruction Demolition Derby Presented by Unique Motor Sports, Sponsored by Ludington Concrete Products / Mason County Transit Mix. Grandstand event admisstion $12, Pit passes $15 11 p.m. Midway closes

Please note – No animals permitted on midway, with the exception of Service Dogs

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Ludington daily newS/WESTERN MICHIGAN FAIR | THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 2017

Fair is a celebration of farm life

By Carmelitta Tiffany Daily News Correspondent

Rebel Farm in Eden Township is nothing less than a menagerie of almost any kind of farm animal that comes to mind. The animals on the farm include a dairy cow, five horses, two miniature horses, three donkeys, eight pigs, seven goats, forty rabbits, and numerous chickens, ducks, pheasants, quail, peacocks, guinea hens, cats and dogs. The guinea hens and donkeys serve as the farm’s guard animals from predators by making lots of noise. The care of this throng of animals might appear to be an insurmountable task, but the Johnson family seems to have it all under control. The family of seven consists of Shawn and Cassi and their children, Trey 11, Keeli 10, Brailyn 7, Tristan 6, and Piper 3. “When I was little, I had all the critters I could

Carmelitta Tiffany | Daily News

Pictured are the Johnson children watering their pigs.

stand,” Cassi said. “When and they called the sheep mals and that it was time to farm kid, so I trained him.” the oldest kids were 3 ‘goats,’ and I realized we’d start a farm. Shawn was not and 2, we went to the fair gone too long without ani- lucky enough to be raised a See 4-H Club, page 9

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THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 2017 | Ludington daily newS/WESTERN MICHIGAN FAIR 

Carmelitta Tiffany | Daily News

The Johnson children with their goats, Keeli with Juliet, Tristan with Jetta, Brailyn and Piper with Marshall.

4-H club: ‘My home away from home’ From page 8

That was seven years ago. Since then, the farm has grown steadily, with Cassi in charge at home while Shawn works as a corrections officer. With all the animals at Rebel Farm, it was inevitable that the family would get involved with the Western Michigan Fair. This

year, all five Johnson children will be showing pigs, chickens, goats, and rabbits, and Keeli, the oldest daughter, will be showing the dairy cow. Even 3-yearold Piper will be participating in a new program called Little Farmers, in which 3and 4-year-olds participate in the fair with the help of an adult. The children will be auctioning off their pigs,

just like last year. Keeli actually bought a horse with her money, and hopes to be able to show it in the future. Cassi started a 4-H group last year called “Take a Step,” which has 15 to 20 members from six families who participate in the planning and execution of the club’s projects, meetings and activities. They meet

twice a month throughout the year. “I’m the leader, but they make the plans and take on projects,” Cassi said. Some of the members of the Take A Step 4-H club can’t raise their own animals due to monetary or space constraints, so they come to Rebel Farm and help care for the animals and get to show them at the

fair. “This is my home away from home,” said Mariana Ramos, 10, who is a part of the 4-H group. The Johnson children bought their own animals this year from the money they made last year at the pig auction. See Farm Family, page 10


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Ludington daily newS/WESTERN MICHIGAN FAIR | THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 2017

Farm family: Teaching self-confidence From page 9

They had to sign a contract promising to take care of their animals. “If I have to do work for them, they have to pay me out of their pig money at the end of the year. I pay for all the feed, but they pay me back out of their pig money,” Cassi said. “We keep track of everything, and they learn about the business part of the project, as well.” Chore charts are central to the success of Rebel Farm; the children each have a list of tasks to be completed every day before they get “screen time.” In addition to the chores, the children spend many hours working on their showmanship requirements for the big day when they are brought in front of the judges at the fair. Cassi said she realizes that raising and showing a fair animal is hard work, but rewarding work, as well. “Being responsible for the care and upkeep of an animal teaches self-confidence and commitment,” she said. “It shows children a way of life that not all are accustomed to. They actually learn where food comes from, and how the importance of hard work is rewarded with a healthy and happy animal. I am glad that I can give my children the opportunity to learn about dedication and build a strong character and work ethic that they’ll carry with them throughout their lives.”

Trey with his Serana Breen named Candycorn, which he hatched from an egg.

Piper with her Holland Maui rabbit.

Keeli with her rabbit Lavender.

Tristan with his rabbit Linda.


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THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 2017 | Ludington daily newS/WESTERN MICHIGAN FAIR 

Harness Racing: Part of Western Michigan Fair history

From page 3

“The breeding farms left Michigan, and that meant farmers no longer sold as much hay and oats, veterinarians saw a decrease in their profession, equipment dealers weren’t selling equipment, and truck and trailer dealers were not selling as many vehicles. So the legislature has begun to modestly support the industry again, and the Department of Agriculture is giving county fairs money to conduct the races.” These races are primarily a “proving” ground for young horses. It gives the trotters and pacers a place to practice and get experience. It also helps the owners make decisions to invest further into the animals that ultimately could go on to

Up To

the pari-mutuel tracks. Ken Ferwerda, current harness horse superintendent for the Western Michigan Fair, feels that harness racing could be another way to draw visitors and participants to the fairgrounds, not only during the week of the fair, but throughout the racing season. But there is a lot of work to do to prepare for the first races. “The biggest task of all is making sure the track is in great shape for race time,” Ferwerda said. “After not being used for so many years, it needs a lot of work, including removing sod, discing, grading, picking up of rocks, and smoothing out. All the members of the fair board are lending a helping hand and offering guidance.”

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Ludington daily newS/WESTERN MICHIGAN FAIR | THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 2017

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Western Michigan Fair 2017  
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