Columnist: Fair time is just around the corner

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I had never been to a county fair until I moved to Michigan. I never even knew what 4-H was either.

Soon all the hard work of our youth will be put on display at the Berrien and Cass county fairs.

It really is all about the kids.

My own children didn’t get the chance to raise a pig or show beef, they only participated in the arts and crafts areas, woodworking, ceramics and leatherwork.

Those families who encourage their children from very little on to purchase an animal, feed and care for it and then take it to the fair and walk it around the pen, I applaud.

The life lessons learned through this experience are monumental.

I have hear my Michigan friends talk about how they borrowed the money for their first animal, then earned money for its sale to pay off their debts and buy another for the next year.

Besides learning about money and how to save at a young age, the 4-Hers also have to get the courage to go in front of a group, and speak to a judge.

When their friends might be off to ride rides at the fair, they might be back in the barns hosing off hot animals.

I am sure many friendships they make through their years of being part of a 4-H club are also ones which they will keep all of their lives.

The county fair also offers others, housewives included, to show off their skills – sewing, canning, baking and more.

I even entered my chocolate chip cookies one year. Though they disappear quickly at my house, they didn’t win a ribbon.

I enjoy looking at the quilt display, something I have never tried, but hope to before I die.

The vegetables are also impressive.

Some might complain that the fair food is too expensive, but I always save enough for at least one treat, and support an area fundraiser, such as buying a sandwich at the pork building.

After all the fair only comes once a year.

With the economy so bad lately, at least parents have the option of taking their kids to a nearby fair for a day.

This year I believe, the Berrien County Youth Fair is doing a ride for one price every day.

The Cass County Fair also has a day which offers a family price to get in.

It will be like a mini vacation for those who can’t afford to travel and take a longer one.

The entertainment appeals to all ages, from monster trucks to the demolition derbies.

I still remember the first derby I covered for the paper in Cass. I was down by the dirt and cars and got sprayed when the drivers tried to peal away from the others cars to be the last one still being able to move. It was extremely exciting and much more fun than I had anticipated.

I still like the harness racing and horse shows the best. I even just like walking through the barns and seeing the horses and the kids busy brushing, watering and feeding them.

The baby animal building is a must see. Those babies are so cute and there is always a wide variety of types of animals.

There are always activities for seniors at the fair and volunteers drive golf carts around to help them get to all the booths and barns.

The Cass County Fair on O’Keefe Street in Cassopolis is the first full week in August and the Berrien County Youth Fair in Berrien Springs follows the week of Aug. 17.

Think about spending day at a fair and remember you are supporting our youth and making memories for your own children.

The Berrien Fair is also celebrating our local farm families. Those whose farms have been in the same family for 50 years or more will have displays in the Historical Building.

Marcia Steffens is the associate editor of the Niles Daily Star and editor of the Cassopolis Vigilant and the Edwardsburg Argus. She can be reached at: