Youth Fair set to beginPublished 9:14am Wednesday, August 12, 2009
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
BERRIEN SPRINGS – Final preparations are being made for one of the county’s biggest annual events, the Berrien County Youth Fair.
The fair kicks off Monday, Aug. 17 with a full slate of activities, showings and demonstrations and grandstand performances for all ages.
Each year, the fair brings together agricultural enthusiasts, young and old, hoping to go home with ribbons from animals they’ve been caring for especially for this very event.
A total of “2,900 youth exhibitors between ages of five and 20,” will participate in this year’s fair, said Sandie Lieberg, marketing and sponsorship coordinator for the Berrien County Youth Fair.
Between 800 and 1,000 volunteers will take part in pulling off the even that drew in over 125,000 visitors to the fairgrounds in Berrien Springs last year.
It’s an event beloved by many, and Lieberg says that is for one very special reason. “Tradition,” she said.
“Many of our volunteers were exhibitors when they were kids and they keep giving back to the community by volunteering and bringing their kids and their grandkids to keep the fun tradition going. It’s a family event that has so many fun memories for years to come.”
Expectations for this year’s fair event are positive.
“We are hoping for great weather so attendance numbers are high,” said Lieberg. “We are expecting as many people as last year or more. Last year the price of gas was $4 a gallon and a lot of people chose to stay close to home, so we had great attendance numbers.
“This year the price of gas is down, but the economy is not great and the unemployment numbers are high. We are expecting a lot of people who can’t go on vacations due to the economy to come to the fair, which is family friendly on budgets.”
A day pass to the fair for adults is $6.00, children 5-12 are $3.00 and seniors can get a day pass for $5.00.
The event features a look at fresh faced exhibitors and those returning with years of experience under the belt. Along with judging and auctions, there is plenty to do when it comes to the fair, including rides, live entertainment, fair food and grandstand performances which will feature Nat and Alex Wolff and Dierks Bentley as well as Bullmania and Demolition Derby.
When it comes to the tough economy that Lieberg mentions, events like the Berrien County Youth Fair can generate revenue for their community as well as enthusiasm for the area’s agricultural attributes.
“It’s all about the kids,” she said. “The BCYF vision is “building the character of community by developing the character of our youth.”
The youth are only a portion of those who make their way to the fairgrounds in Berrien Springs each year as evidenced by the amount of revenue generated through sales at the fair.
“The fair’s operating budget is $1.3 million,” said Lieberg. “And a substantial portion of that is fair week revenue.”
For more information about the Berrien County Youth Fair, to see a schedule of events, additional pricing for season passes or learn more about free attractions visit www.bcyf.org.