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Annual Fair Membership Meeting

1711_office_sunriseJoin your Gratiot County Fair for Youth Board of Directors for our Annual Membership Meeting at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, December 7 at the Bill & Grace Vanderbeek Fair Office on the Alma Fairgrounds.  At the meeting active fair members will elect four positions to the fair’s Board of Directors, present its review of the last year, and appoint a new Teen Representative to the Board.  Lifetime fair memberships can be purchased from the GCFFY Fair Office for $5.

Any fair member interested in running for one of the four 3-year terms on the fair’s Board of Directors should complete a petition.  Petitions should be turned into the fair office by Friday, November 24 so they can be included on the ballot and have a biography in the fair’s meeting packet.  Petitions can be downloaded by clicking here.

Each year the fair’s Board appoints one teen to the fair’s Board of Directors.  The Teen Representative serves a two year term.  Applications and more information are available by clicking here.
 

Fair Seeks Beef Superintendent

1711_beef_kid After several years of incredible service to GCFFY the dynamic duo of Ashlee Gibson and Derek Hessbrook are passing the baton to a new Beef Superintendent.  The fair is seeking someone who is willing to serve in this role.  GCFFY Superintendents are expected to set a positive tone for their department especially with their exhibitors while following the rules outlined in the fair book and guidelines established by the fair.  Superintendents must set up the barn, be present at the last pre-fair clean-up, check-in animals to ensure they meet the fair’s rules, set up the shows, arrange for shipping of sold market animals after the sale, communicate sale and show information to the fair office and arrange for cleaning the barn after the fair.  Applications will be due on Thursday, November 30 to the fair office.  For additional information click here and for an application click here.  Please contact Brian Gardner at the fair office at 989-466-5071 or bgardner@gcffy.org for more information.
 

Parking Generates Resources for Local Non-Profit Agencies

1711_republic_truck Parking at Gratiot County Fair for Youth continues to raise resources for local non-profit agencies.  GCFFY parking areas are staffed by volunteers who represent these agencies and the revenues are split equally among them.  This past fair, GCFFY provided $3,926.34 which will help to provide resources for food pantries, to purchase tickets for Spanish students to experience a cultural exchange, and to support the Alma VFW Post and the St. Louis High School LINKS program which coordinates an exchange of high school students between here and Germany.  Each parking pass purchased helps to support these agencies as well as the fair which is also a 501(c)(3) public charity. 
 

Donations Help Sustain a Successful Fair

1711_exhibit_judging The Gratiot County community steps up to support their fair.  Thanks to the incredible support of the many donors the fair has been able to maintain its program’s mission and  grow and improve its facilities.  This allows the fair to continue to provide quality, memorable fair experiences to its 600 fair exhibitors by greatly expanding the fair's funding equation.  Gratiot County Fair for Youth thanks each donor for investing in the fair's mission.  For a list of all fair donors who provided 250 unique donations in 2017, click here.
 

4-H Registration Deadline Approaches Quickly

gratiot4hlogo Gratiot County Fair for Youth highly recommends exhibitors participate in 4-H and/or FFA to further learn about their project area.  In fact, GCFFY has a registration fee which is waived if the fair exhibitor is PROPERLY enrolled in either 4-H or FFA.  For those enrolling in 4-H, the registration deadline is quickly approaching and is due on December 1. 

“The 2017-2018 4-H program year enrollment is open and an email was sent to all 4-H families on September 20th,” states 4-H Program Coordinator, Chris Thompson. “Please take a minute to read the email as there a couple changes to the enrollment process. Go to mi.4honline.com to complete your re-enrollment. Please contact the Extension Office at 989-875-5295 if you need assistance with passwords and logging in.”

Enrollment in 4-H is $20 for the year (and is to be given to your 4-H club leader) and the fair board is expected to raise their annual fee (which is waived for 4-H/FFA members) to at least $25 this year.  Visit 4honline now to complete your registration even if you have yet paid.
 

Horse Registration Deadline Moved to May 15.

1711_horse_flag To align with other deadlines, the Horse Developmental Committee recommended the Fair Board approve moving the Horse Registration deadline to May 15.  The form must be completed for all exhibitors including Cloverbuds (our 5-8 year old exhibitors) who wish to show a horse at the fair.   Remember a current (taken after August 5, 2017) coggins test must be included with the fair registration form.  Late horse registration forms will incur a fee as do the market animal forms.
 

Cloverbuds Required to Fill Out Preregistration Forms to Show in Large Animals

1711_sheep Cloverbud Exhibitors who want to exhibit in the goat, horse, sheep and swine project areas must complete a corresponding animal preregistration form by the May 15 deadline.  This will help superintendendents in these high demand/limited space project areas plan to ensure we have the proper space to house the the animal during the fair.  The fair will require all Cloverbud animals wear proper dentification tags as required by the Michigan Deparment of Agriculture and Rural Development and those numbers (if requried by that species) will be required on all paperwork.
 

Skills Tests/Lab Will Have Seperate Awards

The GCFFY Board of Directors approved adding an award for the Skills Test/Lab which historically has been one part of the skillathon competition.  These tests have always been a part of skillathon and their total points are totaled into the grand score which determines the skillathon champion. 

“We have found these tests have often created confusion from exhibitors and superintendents alike that these tests/labs were the skillathon and not one part of the skillathon,” states Brian Gardner, GCFFY Fair Coordinator.  “We hope by recognizing these exhibitors who excel on their test/lab that people will better see the separation between these tests and the overall skillathon.”  The skillathon is composed of many different species specific events.  In large animal market species for example the skillathon is composed of record book, skills test/lab, livestock judging contest, showmanship and market class.
 

New 4-H Curriculum for Hog & Beef

1711_4h_booksMichigan State University Extension has published two informational new 4-H handbooks for the beef (feeder) and swine project areas.  There is a wealth of great information which will answer questions and help exhibitor families learn more about their projects.  Looking for what size and age animal to purchase?  It is in there.  Want to know more about what to feed your animal? It is in there.  Curious about how to exhibit your market animal?  Look inside.  Stop by the MSU Extension Office at 219 N. State St. in Alma to pick up a copy and help make your 2018 fair your best one yet.
 

Fair Dates Set

It will inspire you – 263 Days

1711_midwayMark your calendars for the best week of the year.  The next Gratiot County Fair for Youth will be held between Saturday, July 28 – Saturday, August 4, 2018.  Plans are underway already to make this your best fair yet.  Through 2021 the fair will start the last Saturday in July and end the first Saturday in August.
 

Fairgrounds Rentals

1711_friesian Gratiot County Fair for Youth’s facility is not just used one week of the year.  This past year the fair has hosted numerous events outside of fair week. From hosting Highland Festival campers to a wedding of a former fair exhibitor, the fair had a busy season.  In September GCFFY hosted a Friesian horse inspection event with beautiful animals coming in from the mid-western US and judges from the Netherlands.  Also in September GCFFY hosted a club calf sale of top quality show calves which also brought in people from all over Michigan and out-of-state.  These events help stimulate tourism within the community.  Furthermore the grounds are used for winter storage and countless meetings of 4-H, FFA and even Alma College.  For more information about how you can use our venues for your event, contact the fair office.
 

Fair Week Campsites

1711_campers This past summer, GCFFY was able to expand our fairtime campground to 174 campsites.  Each site on the campground has water and electrical and every site was filled last year.  Every person on the fair's camping waiting list was called and offered a site but many passed as the turnaround was quick.  We still have a waiting list.  If you want to camp at the fair or check your status on this list, you are enouraged to email Brian Gardner at bgardner@gcffy.org.  If you are adding your name, please include your name, address, phone number (where you can be contacted on short notice), email address and the first year you would like to camp at the fair.

For campers who camped with us last fair (and did not receive a letter outlining rule violations) you will be mailed a campsite packet in the next couple weeks by the fair office to reserve your spot for the 2018 fair.  If you have moved, email Brian and let him know your new address.
 

Gratiot County Fair for Youth Recognized by 4-H

1711_supporter_plaque_4h The Gratiot County 4-H Program held its annual awards recognition event in late October at the Hardwoods in Ithaca.  At the event several 4-H members, leaders and volunteers were recognized for their leadership and achievement in their project areas.  4-H surprised Gratiot County Fair for Youth’s Board of Directors with a plaque recognizing the fair as their Outstanding Supporter of 4-H award for 2017.  During the recognition, Shelley Brittian, 4-H Leaders Council President stated the fair provides a venue at no cost to several 4-H events and meetings. 

“4-H is the leading partner of Gratiot County Fair for Youth,” states Becky Hirschman, GCFFY’s Board Secretary, who accepted the award on behalf of the fair.  “A strong 4-H program leads to a strong fair and most of us on the board are involved in both programs.  We value our outstanding relationship with 4-H.” 

GCFFY congratulates all of the recipients of awards at the 4-H awards program.
 

Off Season Hours

Gratiot County Fair for Youth operated out of the Bill & Grace Vanderbeek Fair Office on the Alma Fairgrounds.  The office will be closed on Wednesdays until we gear back up for the busy fair season.  There are also other unplanned times throughout the week where Brian will be out running errands or meeting with stakeholders.  It is advisable to call ahead if you are planning on coming over to the fair office.  You can reach GCFFY at 989-466-5071 or by emailing Brian at bgardner@gcffy.org.  
 

Winter Storage

Winter Storage is Available at GCFFY

Store your summer toys at the fair. Winter Storage is available in our enclosed and locked barns at the fairgrounds. For more information click here.

 

GCFFY Office Moves to the Fairgrounds

vanderbeek_bldgGratiot County Fair for Youth constructed the Bill & Grace Vanderbeek Fair Office in 2010 with the intent the building would be used as the permanent location to the fair.  “With the completion of the recent blacktop project last fall, the time was right for our office to move and begin a permanent presence at our amazing facility,” stated Fair Coordinator, Brian Gardner.  “Moving out of the MSU Extension Office was bittersweet for me as MSUE is a strong partner to our fair and I have many great friendships from my tenure being housed there. However, the timing is right for the fair’s business to be done at the fairgrounds.”

The fair’s business has always been separate from MSU Extension and 4-H; however GCFFY considers it a collaborative relationship.  The fair was founded in 1950 through the tireless work of the late John Baker who was the Extension 4-H Agent at the time and wanted to create a fair where the focus was on promoting a great place for youth to showcase their projects.  Up until 2006 the fair and 4-H shared a full-time county funded staff person who did the work of 4-H Secretary and GCFFY Fair Coordinator.  Since 2006 GCFFY has fully funded the Fair Coordinator position and MSU Extension continued to offer space for the administration of the fair’s business.  “This separation of location in no way diminishes our incredible relationship with 4-H and MSU Extension and we look forward to continuing our great relationship with them,” continues Gardner.

Currently the office at the fairgrounds is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and closed Wednesday.  Office Hours are usually 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. depending on Brian’s schedule.  It is recommended to call or email to ensure the office is staffed.

GCFFY’s new office address and phone number are:

Gratiot County Fair for Youth

P.O. Box 1024, 701 S. Lincoln Ave.
Alma, MI 48801
(989) 466-5071
info@gcffy.org


Both GCFFY and MSU Extension understands there will be confusion about which organization does what and both are happy to help answer any questions.
 

Market Swine Weights Changed for 2017

swine_2016 GCFFY’s Board of Directors changed the weights for market swine projects beginning with the 2017 fair.  Swine must weigh between 220 lbs. and 320 lbs. to be able to show in market class and sell.  Exhibitors are encouraged to figure out the best sized animals to buy for the fair with our July 30 weigh-in target date.  The change is to ensure our buyers are provided a good quality product and small and extra heavy swine do not resell well.
 

Feeder Department Removes Beef Breed Feeder Class

feeder_2016For the last few years GCFFY held a beef breed feeder class in conjunction with the dairy feeder class.  That class will be removed from the fair book in 2017 due to low enrollment.  In 2017 only Holstein, Ayshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Jersey, or red and white Holstein feeder steers may show in the Dairy Feeder Market Class.  All other breeds including dairy breeds crossed with beef breeds must register in the market beef classes and NOT in the market feeder class.
 

Your Help is Needed to Build a Great Fair

thermometer Thanks to the 104 donors to date, Gratiot County Fair for Youth is well on its way to meeting its goal of having all 458 trophies and awards it offers sponsored.  Currently the fair is about two-thirds of the way to its goal.  Reaching our goal of 100% trophy sponsorship not only provides well deserved recognition for our exhibitors but it helps the fair complete the funding equation necessary to run a successful fair program, maintain and improve our facilities, and provide an educational and memorable fair experience for our exhibitors and our community.

You can help.  You can support the fair through a gift to our annual fundraising campaign.  A class level donation starts at $50 and donors will be recognized with their name on a trophy and will receive a complimentary weekly parking pass.  Pledge forms and additional opportunities are outlined here.
 

GCFFY Extends Contract with Maple Leaf Amusements through 2021

mapleleaf_2016Gratiot County Fair for Youth and Maple Leaf Amusements signed a contract to extend Maple Leaf providing GCFFY’s fair midway through the 2021 fair.  Maple Leaf began providing the midway during the 2015 fair and worked with GCFFY to create a great carnival atmosphere with exciting rides, fun games and amazing food like elephant ears, corn dogs, caramel corn and cotton candy.

With the new contract, GCFFY also locks in their upcoming fair dates.  The fair will remain the week that begins the last Saturday in July and end the first Saturday in August. 

  • carnival_balloonsJuly 29 - August 5, 2017
  • July 28 – August 4, 2018
  • July 27 – August 3, 2019
  • July 25 – August 1, 2020
  • July 31 – August 7, 2021

carnival_sea_dragonNew this year at the midway will be the popular and thrilling ride the Sea Dragon.  This ride will swing riders in a large pirate style ship back and forth.  Maple Leaf has other rides they are working on switching into their midway as well so that their rides will continue to seem fresh and exciting.  Last year they added the incredible new gondola style Ferris Wheel which will again grace our midway in 2017.

GCFFY and Maple Leaf will again offer presale carnival tickets at $10 good for one person for unlimited rides for any day of their choice while the carnival is open from Monday, July 31 – Saturday, August 5.
 

GCFFY Elects New Board Members

In its annual membership meeting, Gratiot County Fair for Youth held elections for new board members.  Becky Hirschman and Martha Stellow were reelected, and Shanna Acker and Mark Story were elected on the board.  Keegan Humm was appointed as the fair’s new Teen Representative.  Also during the meeting, the fair presented its annual accomplishments and statistics as well as recognized outgoing board members.

With the election of new board members, Gratiot County Fair for Youth wants to thank the following volunteers for their dedicated service on the fair’s Board of Directors.  Members of the board are expected to actively participate in monthly board meetings, serve on committees and help with various fair responsibilities.  The following board members served the fair with distinction and dedication and their presence on the board will be missed. 

auction_ackerScott Acker returned to the board in 2013 and in 2015 he served as the board’s elected President.  Scott’s commitment to serving the fair has a long tenure and has provided positive and thoughtful leadership to the fair.  Scott will continue to serve on the fair’s Large Livestock Committee where he helps the fair by providing expertise with a long tenure in the livestock industry and practical show experience.  This helps the committee stay focused to provide fair exhibitors a high quality show experience while maintaining the values of a county fair.  He will be missed as a board member and yet we know he will continue to serve the fair and its exhibitors.

Maslovich PhotoEmily Maslovich is completing her term as the fair’s Teen Representative.  Beginning with her first meeting, Emily began actively serving similar to an adult with lots of experience.  Emily’s service was not only providing input as an active board member, but she also provided countless hours of time working in the fair office.  This past summer she helped to set up superintendent boxes and personally handled the front desk of the fair office helping countless visitors.  During the fair, Emily spent one day in the hot summer sun helping the horse judge record the placings of our horse exhibitors.  Emily is currently a freshman at University of Detroit Mercy.
 

gccfscholarship

Gratiot County Community Foundation GCFFY Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship money is available for fair exhibitors.  In 2012 a group of volunteers worked together and brainstormed how to provide scholarships to fair exhibitors while remembering someone who passed away.  An endowed memorial fund at the Gratiot County Community Foundation was created from that vision.  In 2017 GCCF will provide $600 scholarships to two fair exhibitors who meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a graduating high school senior accepted at a college, university or trade school OR a student currently in his or her first year at a college, university or trade school;
  • Must be a current Gratiot County Fair for Youth exhibitor who has participated for a minimum of five years with a preference to exhibitors who participate in multiple areas;
  • Displays a commitment to community service;
  • Demonstrates leadership skills;
  • Must not be a previous recipient of this scholarship;
  • Must submit an essay outlining the skills learned as a fair exhibitor and how those skills will serve you throughout your lifetime.  Be certain to address the aforementioned criteria.  Essays must be no longer than one typewritten page in an easy to read font. Also include at least one personal letter of reference. 

Applications and additional information about this and many other GCCF Scholarships can be found at http://www.gratiotfoundation.org/1/280/scholarships.asp.  If you are interested in helping this fund grow more than the $30,000 it currently has in its corpus, contact the Foundation.
 

Gratiot County Community Foundations Awards Two GCFFY Memorial Scholarship Recipients  

sch2016maslovichsch2016brittain
Austin Brittain from Breckenridge and Emily Maslovich from Alma were awarded the Gratiot County Fair for Youth Memorial Scholarship from the Gratiot County Community Foundation.  These scholarships will be paid from the community foundation’s endowed GCFFY Memorial Scholarship Fund.  This fund is still growing and awards only the earnings from the fund's balance as scholarships. 

Austin Brittain recently completed his freshman year at Central Michigan University where he is studying Engineering.  Austin has been exceptionally active in the fair and is currently planning the third annual Science Fair to be held on Thursday during Kids' Day.  Brittain is an avid runner and was the winner of last year's Hoofing It for Ag 5K at the fair. 

Emily Maslovich graduated Salutatorian from Alma High School this past month.  Emily has grown up with the fair where she has participated in numerous different project areas.  Emily is finishing her second year as a teen representative on the Gratiot County Fair for Youth Board of Directors and is currently serving on the Gratiot County 4-H Leaders' Council.  For the past several years, Emily has volunteered to help the fair office organize ribbons and materials for GCFFY superintendents.
 

Grant Funding Provides GCFFY Improved Roads

IMG_7296 2 Last fall, construction equipment laid down 24,370 square feet of asphalt throughout our key areas in the fairgrounds.  Funding for this was generously provided by the Charles Strosacker Foundation, a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Capital Improvement Grant, the Gratiot County Community Foundation and the Rollin Gerstacker Foundation. 

With the completion of the asphalt, GCFFY now has a paved entrance on Lincoln Avenue, parking areas around the Bill & Grace Vanderbeek Fair Office and a road that is paved from the north Lincoln Road entrance to the Bath House and also to the Covered Arena.  Additionally the paved roads attach to eleven barns, buildings and venues which are the Covered Arena, Vanderbeek Fair Office, Ag Building, Still Exhibit Barn, John Siefka Memorial Barn, Dairy Goat Barn, North Horse Barn, Sheep Barn, Swine Barn, Feeder Barn and Small Animal Barn. 

IMG_7354 2Beginning this spring the fair will finalize this project by pouring concrete in front of the south bleachers in the Horse Arena.  This will connect to the east and west entrance to those bleachers to the new blacktop on both sides.  The concrete in the bleachers will also connect to the Sheep Barn.  Additional concrete will connect the new asphalt to the Bath House as well as a path from the fair office’s parking area to the Cafeteria and the Pioneer Pavilion. 

This project continues to provide the fair’s vision of improving our accessibility for all visitors which was started in 2013 with improvements around the Covered Arena and the Pioneer Pavilion.
 

2016 Capital Projects Completed at GCFFY

bunker_installationfeeder_fanAlong with the blacktop project, GCFFY also completed several other projects in 2016.  These projects are possible due to the incredible generosity the Gratiot County community provides to the fair.  In 2016 GCFFY installed a new livestock manure bunker which increased the size and capacity of the bunker.  New fans were installed in the Feeder Barn thanks to support from a handful of committed donors.  The fans helped to improve the flow of air within the barn.  The fair installed additional fencing and new gates along the roads.  Additional gravel was added in the Armory entrance road which improved the flow of traffic of visitors coming and going into the parking areas during fair.  A new sound system was installed in the Pioneer Pavilion which has improved sound in that part of the fairgrounds.

pig_gates 2 Additionally thanks to a donation from Breckenridge Insurance Agency the fair purchased new gating pens for swine to be used during our shows and sales.  These new pens greatly improved the efficiency of allowing swine into and out of the Covered Arena this past year.

Finally the fair purchased new cafeteria fryers and a griddle which increased the capacity and efficiency of food production in the River Rock Barn during the fair.
 

GCFFY Becomes Part of Gratiot County Barn Quilt Trail

barn_quiltWhen presented with the opportunity for Gratiot County Fair for Youth to be placed on the Gratiot County Barn Quilt Trail, GCFFY jumped at the chance to be included.  The quilt was placed on the Dairy/Goat Barn prior to the 2016 fair and represents the colors of fair ribbons.  

Throughout Gratiot County the quilt trail has 50 quilts placed on barns, buildings, and businesses throughout Gratiot County with an additional 10 quilts ready to be placed.  The group is always looking for new sites.  For more information including how to participate in the quilt trail visit them on their website and like them on Facebook.
 

2016 By the Numbers

This past year saw growth while maintaining the value and positive impact of the program offered at Gratiot County Fair for Youth.  In 2016, GCFFY had:

  • 609 Exhibitors
  • 4569 Projects
  • 458 Trophies
  • 70 Cloverbud Exhibitors
  • 461 Still Exhibit Project Exhibitors
  • 43 Market Beef Exhibitors
  • 108 Market Feeder Beef Exhibitors
  • 72 Market Sheep Exhibitors
  • 121 Market Swine Exhibitors
  • 59 Horse Exhibitors
  • 12 Cat Exhibitors
  • 28 Dog Exhibitors
  • 51 Goat Exhibitors
  • 16 Pocket Pet Exhibitors
  • 87 Poultry Exhibitors
  • 86 Rabbit Exhibitors
  • 36 4-H Archery Participants
  • 16,643 recorded fair visitors

The 2016 Fair Sales provided $644,644 of revenue to our fair’s exhibitors in their livestock and still exhibit projects.  This is because GCFFY had 371 total buyers which is an increase of 7.5% from 2015.  
 

Fairgrounds Usage


pavilion_sunriseOn the south side of Alma sits a beautiful facility which might be the perfect location to host your next event.  GCFFY’s fairgrounds is the perfect location for a company retreat or picnic, a peaceful meeting, a family reunion or of course an animal event.  GCFFY has covered picnic areas; an all-weather, technology equipped conference room large barns and arenas.  Our online calendar has all of our events listed at www.gcffy.org found by clicking on Upcoming Events tab.  If you would like to see how GCFFY could serve your needs, contact Brian Gardner at the fair office at 989.466.5071 or bgardner@gcffy.org

Any 4-H club or FFA chapter who is looking for a meeting location or a place to hold your next club event is encouraged to consider the fairgrounds.  The cost for 4-H and FFA groups is often waived depending on the scope of the event and the amount of work it will take fair staff to clean-up after the event.  
 

Find us on Facebook

facebook_f_logoThe Gratiot County Fair for Youth and the Gratiot County 4-H Programs both have active Facebook accounts.  These accounts are used to provide you with current information about their respective programs.  Everyone wants to be liked so please "like" them and make sure you are receiving current information.

If you have "liked" us on Facebook and we do not show up on your feed, go to our page and like a post or two or make a comment.  Active participation on a page will ensure you are receiving the information we are distributing.

The Gratiot County Fair for Youth's Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/gcffy and the Gratiot County 4-H page is https://www.facebook.com/GratiotCounty4H.

 
 

4-H Registration Deadline Approaches Quickly

gratiot4hlogo Gratiot County Fair for Youth highly recommends exhibitors participate in 4-H and/or FFA to further learn about their project area.  In fact, GCFFY has a registration fee which is waived if the fair exhibitor is PROPERLY enrolled in either 4-H or FFA.  For those enrolling in 4-H, the registration deadline is quickly approaching and is due on December 1. 
 
“The 2017-2018 4-H program year enrollment is open and an email was sent to all 4-H families on September 20th,” states 4-H Program Coordinator, Chris Thompson. “Please take a minute to read the email as there a couple changes to the enrollment process. Go to mi.4honline.com to complete your re-enrollment. Please contact the Extension Office at 989-875-5295 if you need assistance with passwords and logging in.”
 
Enrollment in 4-H is $20 for the year (and is to be given to your 4-H club leader) and the fair board is expected to raise their annual fee (which is waived for 4-H/FFA members) to at least $25 this year.  Visit 4honline now to complete your registration even if you have yet paid.
 

Horse Registration Deadline Moved to May 15.

1711_horse_flag To align with other deadlines, the Horse Developmental Committee recommended the Fair Board approve moving the Horse Registration deadline to May 15.  The form must be completed for all exhibitors including Cloverbuds (our 5-8 year old exhibitors) who wish to show a horse at the fair.   Remember a current (taken after August 5, 2017) coggins test must be included with the fair registration form.  Late horse registration forms will incur a fee as do the market animal forms.
 

Cloverbuds Required to Fill Out Preregistration Forms to Show in Large Animals

1711_sheep Cloverbud Exhibitors who want to exhibit in the goat, horse, sheep and swine project areas must complete a corresponding animal preregistration form by the May 15 deadline.  This will help superintendendents in these high demand/limited space project areas plan to ensure we have the proper space to house the the animal during the fair.  The fair will require all Cloverbud animals wear proper dentification tags as required by the Michigan Deparment of Agriculture and Rural Development and those numbers (if requried by that species) will be required on all paperwork.
 

Skills Tests/Lab Will Have Seperate Awards

The GCFFY Board of Directors approved adding an award for the Skills Test/Lab which historically has been one part of the skillathon competition.  These tests have always been a part of skillathon and their total points are totaled into the grand score which determines the skillathon champion. 

“We have found these tests have often created confusion from exhibitors and superintendents alike that these tests/labs were the skillathon and not one part of the skillathon,” states Brian Gardner, GCFFY Fair Coordinator.  “We hope by recognizing these exhibitors who excel on their test/lab that people will better see the separation between these tests and the overall skillathon.”  The skillathon is composed of many different species specific events.  In large animal market species for example the skillathon is composed of record book, skills test/lab, livestock judging contest, showmanship and market class.
 

New 4-H Curriculum for Hog & Beef

1711_4h_booksMichigan State University Extension has published two informational new 4-H handbooks for the beef (feeder) and swine project areas.  There is a wealth of great information which will answer questions and help exhibitor families learn more about their projects.  Looking for what size and age animal to purchase?  It is in there.  Want to know more about what to feed your animal? It is in there.  Curious about how to exhibit your market animal?  Look inside.  Stop by the MSU Extension Office at 219 N. State St. in Alma to pick up a copy and help make your 2018 fair your best one yet.
 

Fair Dates Set

It will inspire you – 263 Days

1711_midwayMark your calendars for the best week of the year.  The next Gratiot County Fair for Youth will be held between Saturday, July 28 – Saturday, August 4, 2018.  Plans are underway already to make this your best fair yet.  Through 2021 the fair will start the last Saturday in July and end the first Saturday in August.
 

Fairgrounds Rentals

Gratiot County Fair for Youth’s facility is not just used one week of the year.  This past year the fair has hosted numerous events outside of fair week. From hosting Highland Festival campers to a wedding of a former fair exhibitor, the fair had a busy season.  In September GCFFY hosted a Friesian horse inspection event with beautiful animals coming in from the mid-western US and judges from the Netherlands.  Also in September GCFFY hosted a club calf sale of top quality show calves which also brought in people from all over Michigan and out-of-state.  These events help stimulate tourism within the community.  Furthermore the grounds are used for winter storage and countless meetings of 4-H, FFA and even Alma College.  For more information about how you can use our venues for your event, contact the fair office.
 

Fair Week Campsites

Gratiot County Fair for Youth’s facility is not just used one week of the year.  This past year the fair has hosted numerous events outside of fair week. From hosting Highland Festival campers to a wedding of a former fair exhibitor, the fair had a busy season.  In September GCFFY hosted a Friesian horse inspection event with beautiful animals coming in from the mid-western US and judges from the Netherlands.  Also in September GCFFY hosted a club calf sale of top quality show calves which also brought in people from all over Michigan and out-of-state.  These events help stimulate tourism within the community.  Furthermore the grounds are used for winter storage and countless meetings of 4-H, FFA and even Alma College.  For more information about how you can use our venues for your event, contact the fair office.
 

Fair Week Campsites

This past summer, GCFFY was able to expand our fairtime campground to 174 campsites.  Each site on the campground has water and electrical and every site was filled last year.  Every person on the fair's camping waiting list was called and offered a site but many passed as the turnaround was quick.  We still have a waiting list.  If you want to camp at the fair or check your status on this list, you are enouraged to email Brian Gardner at bgardner@gcffy.org.  If you are adding your name, please include your name, address, phone number (where you can be contacted on short notice), email address and the first year you would like to camp at the fair.

For campers who camped with us last fair (and did not receive a letter outlining rule violations) you will be mailed a campsite packet in the next couple weeks by the fair office to reserve your spot for the 2018 fair.  If you have moved, email Brian and let him know your new address.
 

Gratiot County Fair for Youth Recognized by 4-H

1711_supporter_plaque_4h The Gratiot County 4-H Program held its annual awards recognition event in late October at the Hardwoods in Ithaca.  At the event several 4-H members, leaders and volunteers were recognized for their leadership and achievement in their project areas.  4-H surprised Gratiot County Fair for Youth’s Board of Directors with a plaque recognizing the fair as their Outstanding Supporter of 4-H award for 2017.  During the recognition, Shelley Brittian, 4-H Leaders Council President stated the fair provides a venue at no cost to several 4-H events and meetings. 

“4-H is the leading partner of Gratiot County Fair for Youth,” states Becky Hirschman, GCFFY’s Board Secretary, who accepted the award on behalf of the fair.  “A strong 4-H program leads to a strong fair and most of us on the board are involved in both programs.  We value our outstanding relationship with 4-H.” 

GCFFY congratulates all of the recipients of awards at the 4-H awards program.
 

Off Season Hours

Gratiot County Fair for Youth operated out of the Bill & Grace Vanderbeek Fair Office on the Alma Fairgrounds.  The office will be closed on Wednesdays until we gear back up for the busy fair season.  There are also other unplanned times throughout the week where Brian will be out running errands or meeting with stakeholders.  It is advisable to call ahead if you are planning on coming over to the fair office.  You can reach GCFFY at 989-466-5071 or by emailing Brian at bgardner@gcffy.org.  
 

Winter Storage

Winter Storage is Available at GCFFY

Store your summer toys at the fair. Winter Storage is available in our enclosed and locked barns at the fairgrounds. For more information click here.

 

GCFFY Office Moves to the Fairgrounds

vanderbeek_bldgGratiot County Fair for Youth constructed the Bill & Grace Vanderbeek Fair Office in 2010 with the intent the building would be used as the permanent location to the fair.  “With the completion of the recent blacktop project last fall, the time was right for our office to move and begin a permanent presence at our amazing facility,” stated Fair Coordinator, Brian Gardner.  “Moving out of the MSU Extension Office was bittersweet for me as MSUE is a strong partner to our fair and I have many great friendships from my tenure being housed there. However, the timing is right for the fair’s business to be done at the fairgrounds.”
 
The fair’s business has always been separate from MSU Extension and 4-H; however GCFFY considers it a collaborative relationship.  The fair was founded in 1950 through the tireless work of the late John Baker who was the Extension 4-H Agent at the time and wanted to create a fair where the focus was on promoting a great place for youth to showcase their projects.  Up until 2006 the fair and 4-H shared a full-time county funded staff person who did the work of 4-H Secretary and GCFFY Fair Coordinator.  Since 2006 GCFFY has fully funded the Fair Coordinator position and MSU Extension continued to offer space for the administration of the fair’s business.  “This separation of location in no way diminishes our incredible relationship with 4-H and MSU Extension and we look forward to continuing our great relationship with them,” continues Gardner.
 
Currently the office at the fairgrounds is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and closed Wednesday.  Office Hours are usually 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. depending on Brian’s schedule.  It is recommended to call or email to ensure the office is staffed.
 
GCFFY’s new office address and phone number are:

Gratiot County Fair for Youth

P.O. Box 1024, 701 S. Lincoln Ave.
Alma, MI 48801
(989) 466-5071
info@gcffy.org

 
Both GCFFY and MSU Extension understands there will be confusion about which organization does what and both are happy to help answer any questions.
 

Market Swine Weights Changed for 2017

swine_2016 GCFFY’s Board of Directors changed the weights for market swine projects beginning with the 2017 fair.  Swine must weigh between 220 lbs. and 320 lbs. to be able to show in market class and sell.  Exhibitors are encouraged to figure out the best sized animals to buy for the fair with our July 30 weigh-in target date.  The change is to ensure our buyers are provided a good quality product and small and extra heavy swine do not resell well.
 

Feeder Department Removes Beef Breed Feeder Class

feeder_2016For the last few years GCFFY held a beef breed feeder class in conjunction with the dairy feeder class.  That class will be removed from the fair book in 2017 due to low enrollment.  In 2017 only Holstein, Ayshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Jersey, or red and white Holstein feeder steers may show in the Dairy Feeder Market Class.  All other breeds including dairy breeds crossed with beef breeds must register in the market beef classes and NOT in the market feeder class.
 

Your Help is Needed to Build a Great Fair

thermometer Thanks to the 104 donors to date, Gratiot County Fair for Youth is well on its way to meeting its goal of having all 458 trophies and awards it offers sponsored.  Currently the fair is about two-thirds of the way to its goal.  Reaching our goal of 100% trophy sponsorship not only provides well deserved recognition for our exhibitors but it helps the fair complete the funding equation necessary to run a successful fair program, maintain and improve our facilities, and provide an educational and memorable fair experience for our exhibitors and our community.
 
You can help.  You can support the fair through a gift to our annual fundraising campaign.  A class level donation starts at $50 and donors will be recognized with their name on a trophy and will receive a complimentary weekly parking pass.  Pledge forms and additional opportunities are outlined here.
 

GCFFY Extends Contract with Maple Leaf Amusements through 2021

mapleleaf_2016Gratiot County Fair for Youth and Maple Leaf Amusements signed a contract to extend Maple Leaf providing GCFFY’s fair midway through the 2021 fair.  Maple Leaf began providing the midway during the 2015 fair and worked with GCFFY to create a great carnival atmosphere with exciting rides, fun games and amazing food like elephant ears, corn dogs, caramel corn and cotton candy.
 
With the new contract, GCFFY also locks in their upcoming fair dates.  The fair will remain the week that begins the last Saturday in July and end the first Saturday in August. 

  • carnival_balloonsJuly 29 - August 5, 2017
  • July 28 – August 4, 2018
  • July 27 – August 3, 2019
  • July 25 – August 1, 2020
  • July 31 – August 7, 2021
 
carnival_sea_dragonNew this year at the midway will be the popular and thrilling ride the Sea Dragon.  This ride will swing riders in a large pirate style ship back and forth.  Maple Leaf has other rides they are working on switching into their midway as well so that their rides will continue to seem fresh and exciting.  Last year they added the incredible new gondola style Ferris Wheel which will again grace our midway in 2017.
 
GCFFY and Maple Leaf will again offer presale carnival tickets at $10 good for one person for unlimited rides for any day of their choice while the carnival is open from Monday, July 31 – Saturday, August 5.
 

Campsite Updates


campsiteCampers who camped with us in 2016, want to camp with us this coming summer, and have not gotten their forms/payment into the fair office have until Thursday, February 2 to complete the paperwork and submit their forms.  After all campsite forms are processed the fair will reassign past campers who have requested to be moved to the best of the fair’s ability.  After that, GCFFY will 

fill sites off of the fair’s campsite waiting list.   As is tradition GCFFY will hold one site for the next fair to be auctioned off at the annual Fair Dinner Dance on Saturday, March 18.  If you are on the waiting list and do not get a call immediately it does not mean you will not get a spot.  Often times people plan on camping and sometime in the year their plans change, so another site opens up.  If you have not already placed your name on the campsite waiting list and would like to camp with us during the fair, contact the fair to be placed on the waiting list.  Please provide your name, mailing address, phone, email and the first year a site would be needed and email it to info@gcffy.org or call (989) 466-5071.
 
 

GCFFY Elects New Board Members

In its annual membership meeting, Gratiot County Fair for Youth held elections for new board members.  Becky Hirschman and Martha Stellow were reelected, and Shanna Acker and Mark Story were elected on the board.  Keegan Humm was appointed as the fair’s new Teen Representative.  Also during the meeting, the fair presented its annual accomplishments and statistics as well as recognized outgoing board members.
 
With the election of new board members, Gratiot County Fair for Youth wants to thank the following volunteers for their dedicated service on the fair’s Board of Directors.  Members of the board are expected to actively participate in monthly board meetings, serve on committees and help with various fair responsibilities.  The following board members served the fair with distinction and dedication and their presence on the board will be missed. 
 
auction_ackerScott Acker returned to the board in 2013 and in 2015 he served as the board’s elected President.  Scott’s commitment to serving the fair has a long tenure and has provided positive and thoughtful leadership to the fair.  Scott will continue to serve on the fair’s Large Livestock Committee where he helps the fair by providing expertise with a long tenure in the livestock industry and practical show experience.  This helps the committee stay focused to provide fair exhibitors a high quality show experience while maintaining the values of a county fair.  He will be missed as a board member and yet we know he will continue to serve the fair and its exhibitors.
 
Maslovich PhotoEmily Maslovich is completing her term as the fair’s Teen Representative.  Beginning with her first meeting, Emily began actively serving similar to an adult with lots of experience.  Emily’s service was not only providing input as an active board member, but she also provided countless hours of time working in the fair office.  This past summer she helped to set up superintendent boxes and personally handled the front desk of the fair office helping countless visitors.  During the fair, Emily spent one day in the hot summer sun helping the horse judge record the placings of our horse exhibitors.  Emily is currently a freshman at University of Detroit Mercy.
 

Fair Registration Deadlines


pig_pic 2Get your GCFFY on!  Sign up to participate in the 2017 Gratiot County Fair for Youth.  Well, sign up if you are between the ages of 5 and 19 (as of January 1).  You can’t show it unless you register it.
How do you do that, meet the following deadlines.

Market classes are ONLY for market animals intended for sale (this does not include Cloverbud projects or breeding stock animals not intended for sale).  If exhibitors want to register for market (sale) classes in Beef, Feeder Beef, Goat, Sheep and Swine, they must preregister their animals by the dates below.  Each of these market animals you intend to register MUST have a GCFFY provided ear tag.  Furthermore, exhibitors must attach a photograph that shows the animal with the ear tag visible and readable to the completed registration form and have it turned into GCFFY before the deadline.  Market Registration Forms DO NOT replace Fair Entry Forms where exhibitors register the classes in which they wish to exhibit.  Fair Entry Forms are due on June 25.
  • Market Beef – 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 15, 2017
  • Market Feeder Beef (Dairy Breeds) – EXTENDED TO: 4:00 p.m., Monday, April 17, 2017
  • Market Goat, Sheep and Swine – 4:00 p.m., Monday, May 15, 2017
  • Horse Project Registrations – 4:00 p.m., Monday, May 15, 2017
  • Fair Entry Form – EXTENDED TO: 4:00 p.m., Monday June 26, 2017
 
Forms will be posted as they are produced along with other fair forms like off road vehicle permits at http://www.gcffy.org/fair_forms.html.
 

gccfscholarship

Gratiot County Community Foundation GCFFY Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship money is available for fair exhibitors.  In 2012 a group of volunteers worked together and brainstormed how to provide scholarships to fair exhibitors while remembering someone who passed away.  An endowed memorial fund at the Gratiot County Community Foundation was created from that vision.  In 2017 GCCF will provide $600 scholarships to two fair exhibitors who meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a graduating high school senior accepted at a college, university or trade school OR a student currently in his or her first year at a college, university or trade school;
  • Must be a current Gratiot County Fair for Youth exhibitor who has participated for a minimum of five years with a preference to exhibitors who participate in multiple areas;
  • Displays a commitment to community service;
  • Demonstrates leadership skills;
  • Must not be a previous recipient of this scholarship;
  • Must submit an essay outlining the skills learned as a fair exhibitor and how those skills will serve you throughout your lifetime.  Be certain to address the aforementioned criteria.  Essays must be no longer than one typewritten page in an easy to read font. Also include at least one personal letter of reference. 
 
Applications and additional information about this and many other GCCF Scholarships can be found at http://www.gratiotfoundation.org/1/280/scholarships.asp.  If you are interested in helping this fund grow more than the $30,000 it currently has in its corpus, contact the Foundation.
 

Gratiot County Community Foundations Awards Two GCFFY Memorial Scholarship Recipients  

sch2016maslovichsch2016brittain
Austin Brittain from Breckenridge and Emily Maslovich from Alma were awarded the Gratiot County Fair for Youth Memorial Scholarship from the Gratiot County Community Foundation.  These scholarships will be paid from the community foundation’s endowed GCFFY Memorial Scholarship Fund.  This fund is still growing and awards only the earnings from the fund's balance as scholarships. 

Austin Brittain recently completed his freshman year at Central Michigan University where he is studying Engineering.  Austin has been exceptionally active in the fair and is currently planning the third annual Science Fair to be held on Thursday during Kids' Day.  Brittain is an avid runner and was the winner of last year's Hoofing It for Ag 5K at the fair. 

Emily Maslovich graduated Salutatorian from Alma High School this past month.  Emily has grown up with the fair where she has participated in numerous different project areas.  Emily is finishing her second year as a teen representative on the Gratiot County Fair for Youth Board of Directors and is currently serving on the Gratiot County 4-H Leaders' Council.  For the past several years, Emily has volunteered to help the fair office organize ribbons and materials for GCFFY superintendents.
 

Grant Funding Provides GCFFY Improved Roads

IMG_7296 2 Last fall, construction equipment laid down 24,370 square feet of asphalt throughout our key areas in the fairgrounds.  Funding for this was generously provided by the Charles Strosacker Foundation, a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Capital Improvement Grant, the Gratiot County Community Foundation and the Rollin Gerstacker Foundation. 
 
With the completion of the asphalt, GCFFY now has a paved entrance on Lincoln Avenue, parking areas around the Bill & Grace Vanderbeek Fair Office and a road that is paved from the north Lincoln Road entrance to the Bath House and also to the Covered Arena.  Additionally the paved roads attach to eleven barns, buildings and venues which are the Covered Arena, Vanderbeek Fair Office, Ag Building, Still Exhibit Barn, John Siefka Memorial Barn, Dairy Goat Barn, North Horse Barn, Sheep Barn, Swine Barn, Feeder Barn and Small Animal Barn. 
 
IMG_7354 2Beginning this spring the fair will finalize this project by pouring concrete in front of the south bleachers in the Horse Arena.  This will connect to the east and west entrance to those bleachers to the new blacktop on both sides.  The concrete in the bleachers will also connect to the Sheep Barn.  Additional concrete will connect the new asphalt to the Bath House as well as a path from the fair office’s parking area to the Cafeteria and the Pioneer Pavilion. 
 
This project continues to provide the fair’s vision of improving our accessibility for all visitors which was started in 2013 with improvements around the Covered Arena and the Pioneer Pavilion.
 

2016 Capital Projects Completed at GCFFY

bunker_installationfeeder_fanAlong with the blacktop project, GCFFY also completed several other projects in 2016.  These projects are possible due to the incredible generosity the Gratiot County community provides to the fair.  In 2016 GCFFY installed a new livestock manure bunker which increased the size and capacity of the bunker.  New fans were installed in the Feeder Barn thanks to support from a handful of committed donors.  The fans helped to improve the flow of air within the barn.  The fair installed additional fencing and new gates along the roads.  Additional gravel was added in the Armory entrance road which improved the flow of traffic of visitors coming and going into the parking areas during fair.  A new sound system was installed in the Pioneer Pavilion which has improved sound in that part of the fairgrounds.
 
pig_gates 2 Additionally thanks to a donation from Breckenridge Insurance Agency the fair purchased new gating pens for swine to be used during our shows and sales.  These new pens greatly improved the efficiency of allowing swine into and out of the Covered Arena this past year.
 
Finally the fair purchased new cafeteria fryers and a griddle which increased the capacity and efficiency of food production in the River Rock Barn during the fair.
 

GCFFY Becomes Part of Gratiot County Barn Quilt Trail

barn_quiltWhen presented with the opportunity for Gratiot County Fair for Youth to be placed on the Gratiot County Barn Quilt Trail, GCFFY jumped at the chance to be included.  The quilt was placed on the Dairy/Goat Barn prior to the 2016 fair and represents the colors of fair ribbons.  

Throughout Gratiot County the quilt trail has 50 quilts placed on barns, buildings, and businesses throughout Gratiot County with an additional 10 quilts ready to be placed.  The group is always looking for new sites.  For more information including how to participate in the quilt trail visit them on their website and like them on Facebook.
 

2016 By the Numbers

This past year saw growth while maintaining the value and positive impact of the program offered at Gratiot County Fair for Youth.  In 2016, GCFFY had:

  • 609 Exhibitors
  • 4569 Projects
  • 458 Trophies
  • 70 Cloverbud Exhibitors
  • 461 Still Exhibit Project Exhibitors
  • 43 Market Beef Exhibitors
  • 108 Market Feeder Beef Exhibitors
  • 72 Market Sheep Exhibitors
  • 121 Market Swine Exhibitors
  • 59 Horse Exhibitors
  • 12 Cat Exhibitors
  • 28 Dog Exhibitors
  • 51 Goat Exhibitors
  • 16 Pocket Pet Exhibitors
  • 87 Poultry Exhibitors
  • 86 Rabbit Exhibitors
  • 36 4-H Archery Participants
  • 16,643 recorded fair visitors
 
The 2016 Fair Sales provided $644,644 of revenue to our fair’s exhibitors in their livestock and still exhibit projects.  This is because GCFFY had 371 total buyers which is an increase of 7.5% from 2015.  
 

Fairgrounds Usage


pavilion_sunriseOn the south side of Alma sits a beautiful facility which might be the perfect location to host your next event.  GCFFY’s fairgrounds is the perfect location for a company retreat or picnic, a peaceful meeting, a family reunion or of course an animal event.  GCFFY has covered picnic areas; an all-weather, technology equipped conference room large barns and arenas.  Our online calendar has all of our events listed at www.gcffy.org found by clicking on Upcoming Events tab.  If you would like to see how GCFFY could serve your needs, contact Brian Gardner at the fair office at 989.875.5292 or bgardner@gcffy.org

Any 4-H club or FFA chapter who is looking for a meeting location or a place to hold your next club event is encouraged to consider the fairgrounds.  The cost for 4-H and FFA groups is often waived depending on the scope of the event and the amount of work it will take fair staff to clean-up after the event.  
 
2017 timeline photo
 

Find us on Facebook

facebook_f_logoThe Gratiot County Fair for Youth and the Gratiot County 4-H Programs both have active Facebook accounts.  These accounts are used to provide you with current information about their respective programs.  Everyone wants to be liked so please "like" them and make sure you are receiving current information.

If you have "liked" us on Facebook and we do not show up on your feed, go to our page and like a post or two or make a comment.  Active participation on a page will ensure you are receiving the information we are distributing.

The Gratiot County Fair for Youth's Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/gcffy and the Gratiot County 4-H page is https://www.facebook.com/GratiotCounty4H.