Berrien County Fair board hoping for higher attendance in tough economyPublished 9:25pm Wednesday, August 11, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
The Berrien County Youth Fair has drawn an average of more than 120,000 people in recent years, and the fair board is hoping to beat that number at this year’s event, which takes place next Monday through Saturday at the fairgrounds, 9122 Old U.S. 31 in Berrien Springs.
Karen Klug, the manager of the Berrien County Youth Fair, said attendance has been up in recent years, possibly due to the struggling Michigan economy.
“I think over the last couple years, people don’t have that extra money, so they are taking advantage of local events,” she said.
But the fair isn’t completely immune to the sour economy. The state cut its premium grant this year, and the fair depended on a benefit fish fry and community donations of food and supplies to make this year’s fair possible.
“We want to thank all the people and businesses that have stepped forward to assist in raising funds for exhibitor premiums,” fair board president Bruce Foster said in a recent press release.
More than 1,000 volunteers in 70 different committees help make this year’s fair possible.
Under the theme of “A Treasure Chest of the County’s Best,” this year’s fair will feature more than 15,000 exhibits on display from more than 2,800 Berrien County youth, along with more than 300 commercial exhibits.
Free attractions this year include an historical display called “Preserve the Southwest Michigan Fruit Belt;” Pirate Island, an interactive show; a House of David vintage baseball game and daily entertainment in the mall area with a new 20-by-30-foot dance floor.
Daily grandstand entertainment will feature a tractor pull on Monday at 7 p.m., free Circus Continental shows at 1, 4 and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, The Charlie Daniels Band and Eric Church performing on Wednesday at 7 p.m., Skid Row and Firehouse performing at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Bullmania at 8 p.m. Friday and Demolition Derby at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Klug said the wide variety of activities and entertainment are the reason for the success of the fair.
“People come for many different reasons,” she said. “Some come to see the judging of the animals. Many people come to just get a corn dog or ride the rides or visit commercial exhibitors or see a grandstand show.”
Klug said the Berrien County Fair is also unique in that it is a youth fair.
“Our focus is on the kids, so there are no games of chance, no alcohol,” she said. “It provides a safe environment. We pride ourselves in the cleanliness of the grounds. It’s just a fun experience for everyone.”
For a full schedule of events and more information on the fair, visit its website at www.bcyf.org or pick up a copy of Leader Publications’ Berrien County Youth Fair special section.