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GCFFY Appreciates Donors

1811_donationsAs the last fiscal year came to a close, GCFFY had 265 donors who helped the fair meet its funding equation for 2018.  With every donation the fair grows stronger and is better able to complete its mission of providing our community’s youth an opportunity to showcase their accomplishments.  GCFFY is fiscally strong which helps us provide our exhibitors with an educational and memorable fair experience in safe, functional and well maintained fair facilities.  GCFFY appreciates every person who supports the fair through a donation of time or resources. Click here for a complete list of all 2018 fair donors.

Mark and Raychelle Story Step Back from Swine Superintendent Role

1811_storyMark and Raychelle Story have served the last four years as the fair’s swine co-superintendents.  This year due to increased commitments at work for both they are stepping away from leading this large department.  During their tenure they have seen the swine project area numbers increase steadily forcing them to work hard to find a way to house animals without having enough pens.  Some accomplishments in their four years were working with Breckenridge Insurance Agency to purchase the swine gates in the arena.  Using these new pens has dramatically increased efficiency of the shows.  The Story team helped to create outdoor wash pens for the swine department to provide much needed inside pen space and has allowed more GCFFY exhibitors to wash their animals at one time.  Mark & Raychelle have also helped to create a plan to increase multi-purpose pen space at the fairgrounds to create more flexible housing on the fairgrounds.  “Mark and Raychelle are always helping our pig families,” states GCFFY Fair Coordinator, Brian Gardner.  “They made sure every family had the information they needed and worked hard to ensure the swine show ran efficiently and fairly.”  GCFFY thanks the Storys for their incredible service to the fair.

Mark & Jeanne Fidler Step Back As Rabbit Superintendents

1811_fidlerSince 2013, Brett & Jeanne Fidler’s smiling faces have greeted exhibitors in the rabbit barn as they served as co-superintendents in the rabbit department.  Brett & Jeanne are stepping back away as the superintendents of the rabbit/cavy department this coming year.  During their time at the fair, Brett & Jeanne worked tirelessly to ensure exhibitors were well prepared and made sure the barn was set up and ready for exhibitors to check-in.  This past year, Brett and Jeanne helped to successfully integrate cavy projects into the rabbit department.  This move has helped GCFFY better align with American Rabbit Breeders Association standards which includes cavies.  “It was at the show where Jeanne and Brett excelled as superintendents,” states Brian Gardner, GCFFY Fair Coordinator.  “Their enthusiasm for helping kids comforted parents and empowered exhibitors to do their very best.”  GCFFY thanks the Fidlers for five great years showing rabbits.

Applications Sought for Swine & Rabbit Superintendents

Gratiot County Fair for Youth is seeking qualified applicants to serve as the fair’s volunteer swine superintendent and volunteer rabbit superintendent. Candidates should be organized, have basic knowledge of how a fair animal show runs, and most importantly interact well with our youth exhibitors, volunteers and parents.

The Swine Superintendent will:

  • 1811_swine_show 2Serve on the fair’s Large Livestock Committee as a voting member (a committee which usually meets twice per year) representing the swine department
  • Review registration forms
  • Work with the fair office to get ready for fair
  • Set-up and assign pens in space provided by board
  • Check-in and weigh-in swine projects
  • Introduce themselves to swine exhibitors
  • Set-up the market classes (by weight) and show and showmanship classes (by exhibitor age) and show. 
  • Help the fair office prepare the sale bill based on established procedures
  • Prepare exhibitors for the sale
  • Prepare swine exhibits for the showmanship sweepstakes
  • Arrange for transportation of swine after the sale
  • Work with exhibitors and volunteers to put away pens and clean-up barn(s) after the fair 

The Rabbit Superintendent will:

  • 1811_rabbit_showServe on the fair’s Small Animal Committee as a voting member (a committee which usually meets monthly) representing the rabbit/cavy department
  • Work with the fair office to get ready for fair
  • Organize a rabbit tattooing session available for rabbit exhibitors
  • Set-up and assign pens in space provided by board
  • Check-in and weigh-in rabbit projects
  • Introduce themselves to rabbit exhibitors
  • Set up and organize the show
  • Help the fair office prepare the sale bill based on established procedures
  • Prepare exhibitors for the sale
  • Prepare rabbit exhibits for the showmanship sweepstakes
  • Arrange for transportation of rabbits after the sale
  • Work with exhibitors and volunteers to put away pens and clean-up barn(s) after the fair 

Applications for either position are available by clicking here and are due by Wednesday, November 21.  The official superintendent job description is available here. Contact the fair office with any questions at bgardner@gcffy.org or (989) 466-5071.

Camping During Fair

campsiteA common question of GCFFY exhibitor families is how can they get a camping spot on the fairgrounds for the fair.  The fair first re-offers campsites to families who have camped with us during the last fair.  These families have until mid-February to turn in their campsite registration paperwork (which is mailed out in mid-November).  The fair will move families who indicate they want to move based on the vacancies left from campers who do not renew and then will offer the open spots to new families from the campsite waiting list on a first-on, first-off basis.   

What is the “waiting list”?  It is a list of families who have contacted the fair office to let them know they are interested in getting a site.  Currently there are 57 families on the waiting list.  This is not as bad though as it seems. Many families who were offered a site for 2018 chose not to take the site for various reasons.  These families were able to stay on the list in case something changed for them in the future and statistically do not often take a site in the future.  If you want to add your name to this waiting list, email Brian Gardner at bgardner@gcffy.org with your name, address, best phone numbers to be reached (sometimes calls are made just before the fair starts so a cell phone is helpful) and your email address. Your name will be added in the order it is received.

2019 Fair Campsite Reservations will be mailed out later this month to families who camped in 2018.  Families will be asked to review the information, agree to the rules and send the paperwork back to the fair with their $200 campsite reservation fee.  Campers who hold a ten year lease with the fair have two more fairs remaining on that lease.  If you hold a ten year lease and no longer need to camp with the fair, contact the fair office and your unused portion can be refunded at the rate per year paid for the initial lease agreement.

Upcoming Fair Dates

1811_midwayThe fair has contracted dates with Maple Leaf Amusements through 2021.  Maple Leaf Amusements have been providing exceptional carnival rides, food and games to the GCFFY midway since 2014 and the fair looks forward to continuing our great partnership through at least the beginning of the next decade.  The dates through 2021 are:

Saturday, July 27 – Saturday, August 3, 2019
Saturday, July 25 – Saturday, August 1, 2020
Saturday, July 31 – Saturday, August 7, 2021

Please update your calendars so you can plan your mid-summer adventure at the next three GCFFYs.

PQA No Longer Required to Exhibit Swine

1811_swineIn May, the youth version of Pork Quality Assurance was no longer supported by the National Pork Board.  Pork Quality Assurance is a certification program to educate swine producers how to raise a quality meat product.  Historically, MSU Extension partnered with the Pork Board to provide the education of this program for youth participating in swine fair projects. The Pork Board eliminated this program when a new program, Youth for the Quality Care of Animals was created and covered all market animal projects.  While this new program is well designed, the program costs $12 per child to participate and MSU Extension at this time is not able to provide the program education meaning it is only web-based.  The fair decided since buyers are not getting additional money for reselling swine projects raised from "certified producers", that they would no longer require this certification of their exhibitors.  

Record Books for Exhibitors with Market Livestock (including Dairy) are Mandatory

1809_recordbooksAt the last GCFFY Board of Directors Meeting, the board approved requiring record books for all exhibitors who exhibit market animal projects.  This means any youth selling an animal at the fair’s Livestock Animal or who is part of the fair’s dairy project must fill out a current year record book.  Furthermore the fair's Market Record Keeping Sheet which was due on the last Saturday of fair will go away.  The fair will soon post the updated record books online for the fair’s large animal projects and the details on how to turn the completed books.

All Large Animals (including Goats) Must Pre-Register

1811_dairyThe fair is creating yet another form for youth exhibitors to complete.  Any exhibitor who plans to show breeding stock (non-market) beef, dairy, goat and sheep projects at the fair MUST preregister their fair animals.  This new form will be due on May 15 and will incur a late fee of $10 per business day up to 30 days in order to show at the fair.  Paperwork received after 30 days past the registration deadline will not be accepted and animals will not be able to show.  This will ensure large animals superintendents know how many animals to plan to have at the upcoming fair.  This is a change so make sure you let anyone showing these types of animals know so they can plan.  The new form can be downloaded by clicking here. 

Still Exhibit Sale Project Delivery

1811_barn_quilt_projectsThe past few years has seen a huge increase in not only the amount of non-food still exhibit projects sold but also in the quality.  GCFFY fair exhibitors have worked hard to master their craft to present some truly unique hand-crafted items for sale.  This past year there was some confusion on the release of items at the fair.  For the 2019 sale, exhibitors who will sell these non-food items will get a card when signing-up their exhibit sale project.  This card will have a place for the exhibitor to complete their phone number(s) and name and a part for the buyer to write their contact information and name.  The child will be required to give this card to the buyer after they sell so the buyer and the exhibitor have each other’s contact information.  The card explains to the buyer it is the exhibitor’s responsibility to deliver the project after the fair but most importantly will provide both with contact information.  The fair will also be encouraging still exhibit sellers to place a “Thank You Buyer” card on the project as well identifying the buyer of the item.  The fair hopes this will help all sale projects to be delivered to the right place after the fair.

Still Exhibit Release

1811_canningThe Fair will be changing the Still Exhibit Release time in 2019.  The fair will be dismissing projects on the last Saturday of fair (Saturday, August 3, 2019) from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.   The fair has seen many projects leave the fairgrounds early the past years which has created a difficult time for our clubs who have done Barn Security.  After 2:00 p.m., the barn will be closed until Sunday morning and will not be re-opened for project dismissal due to the large amount of visitors the fair has on Saturday afternoon.  The Still Exhibit Barn will not be open to visitors on the fair's last Saturday.  

Club/Chapter Agreement

clean_upThe fair has created an agreement between the fair and 4-H Clubs and FFA Chapters who participate in the fair.  The new form will ask club leaders to participate in things they are already doing to help the fair.  Club Leaders will agree to have their club perform their pre and post fair assigned clean-up duties for the fair.  Leaders will also agree to have their families (or arrange for volunteers) participate in being Still Exhibit Barn Ambassadors (Barn Security) during their appointed barn hours.  Club Leaders will agree to receive and distribute entry tags (etc.) delivered to them for their club.  Furthermore club leaders will be expected to set-up, decorate and staff its assigned Still Exhibit Project Display Area.  During Still Exhibit Judging the club will arrange for a volunteer to accept items being brought to the area for display.  Club and Chapter Leaders will have an opportunity to learn more about this at a pre-fair club workshop for leaders in April with a goal to distribute printed fair books at this time.  The fair will then agree to waive the fair’s $25 per member fair entry fee for all club/chapter members.  In the past these were all previously waived for all 4-H and FFA members. 

The fair sincerely appreciates the help it receives from 4-H clubs, families, volunteers and staff and FFA chapters, members and staff.  The fair cannot run without this incredible support.


Fair Awards 2018 Appreciation Awards

Gratiot County Fair for Youth awards a personal and business Appreciation Award annually during its opening ceremony.  This year the fair awarded the personal award to the Cary Family.  The Cary's have been involved at this fair since its inception in 1950.  Four generations of the Cary family have given incredible amounts time, talent and resources to mold this fair into what the fair is today.  The current generation of the Cary family continue in the large footsteps left by "grandpa" Charlie Cary.  Today Charlie’s wife, Neoma, and their family, Scott and Wendy, Matt, Jake and Shelley, Stacey and Todd, Landen, Madelyn, Dillon (Denman), Hayley and Ben all contribute in the amazing Cary tradition of helping the fair. 

The Business Award was awarded to MJC Electric, LLC.  Matt Campbell who owns and operates MJC Electric donated his time to help and resources to accomplish a large electrical project at the fairgrounds.

We Want Your Input

1809_sizzlerDo you have a great idea to share to help GCFFY improve?  Do you want to tell us what your favorite part of the fair was in 2018?  GCFFY wants your input.  Survey results often bring about positive change and improvements on future fair events. All survey responses are discussed.  Take a couple minutes to let us know how we are doing.  Click here to complete this quick survey.

GCFFY is Updating its Address

GCFFY will be closing its post office box later this fall.    Please update your files (including your financial software) so your mail will get to the fairgrounds without delay.  The address will now be:

701 S. Lincoln Ave.
Alma, MI 48801

Our phone number and email will remain the same at (989) 466-5071 and info@gcffy.org.

Download GCFFY Pictures

Girl kissing dairy heiferCaptured by Christine Crumbaugh has some amazing photographs from the 2018 fair.  Many of them she posted are already on our fair’s Facebook account.  There are many more on her website which were not on Facebook.  Chris has been sharing her gift of photography for the last few years and this year's pictures are nothing less than exceptional.  If you like one of them, you can download the full resolution file for $5 by clicking here.  Chris donates all of the money to GCFFY. A HUGE thank you for Chris for all she does to save so many memories and moments from the best week of the year.

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Gratiot County Fair for Youth Plans Annual Membership Meeting

Join us at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, December 6 for the fair’s Annual Membership Meeting at the Bill & Grace Vanderbeek Fair Office.  Our fair’s by-laws set up the fair to have fair members elect the fair’s Board of Directors at the Annual Membership Meeting as well as approve any by-law changes.  Fair supporters can become a lifetime fair member for just $5 and memberships are available at the fair office.  At the meeting, the fair’s Board will present the fair’s annual report of highlights, the membership will elect four members for three year terms to the fair’s Board of Directors and a new Teen Representative will be appointed for a two year term.

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 are due at the fair office by Friday,November 23 so they can be included on the ballot, have a biography in the meeting packet and their name listed on the official ballot. Petitions can be downloaded by clicking here.

Each year the fair’s Board appoints one teen to the fair’s Board of Directors. The fair selects the representative  based on the candidate’s leadership ability and ability to participate at the fair’s board meetings.  Selected teens serve a two year term on the fair's board.  Applications and more information are available by clicking here.

Come Grow With Us: A Campaign for Expanded Livestock CapacityCome Grow With Us Campaign

Gratiot County Fair for Youth is constructing a new 64’ x 112’ multipurpose livestock facility.  This new barn will replace the fair’s old beef barns and provide additional capacity to house livestock animals during fair.  As part of this campaign, the fair has already secured funding and has purchased new livestock pens and a scale.  Additionally the building will be constructed tall enough to support storage of large camping units over the winter.

While the fair is well on its way to successfully funding this project from grants and philanthropic support, the fair still needs your help to complete the project’s funding equation.  Various sizes and types of gifts are needed to complete the fundraising plan.  There are numerous naming opportunities and all gifts will be permanently recognized.

Gifts may be made in installments; however, we are asking donors to complete their gifts by October 31, 2018.  As GCFFY is a 501(c)(3) public charity, your gift may be tax deductible.  Click here for more information and to support this campaign.


New College Students Use GCFFY Memorial Scholarship to Offset Costs

Last spring, Chloe Brittain and Dylan Macha were awarded a scholarship from the Gratiot County Community Foundation’s GCFFY Memorial Scholarship Endowed Fund.  With these two recipients, this fund has now awarded ten scholarships since its inception in 2013.  Recipients are awarded based on their long term diverse participation at the fair, commitment to community service and their leadership experiences.  Anyone interested in applying for a scholarship next winter can find information at www.gratiotfoundation.org

1809_brittain_chloe_gccfscholarshipChloe Brittain is in her first semester at Trine University in Angola, Indiana where she is taking classes as well as running on their cross country team.  Chloe has participated in numerous project areas at the fair and is a long-time member of the Circle B 4-H Club.  She has participated in the Gratiot County 4-H Teen Exchange Club.  The last two years Chloe has coordinated the Science Expo for the fair.  In this role, Chloe arranged the presenters who up an interactive science based table and worked with the fair to manage the logistics of having this event during the busy week.

1809_macha_dylan_gccfscholDylan Macha has participated in the fair and 4-H long before he was old enough to start as a Clover Climber (which is now called Cloverbud).  Dylan has participated in a wide variety of both still exhibit and animal project areas.  Younger exhibitors look up to Dylan, and he is always willing to help these exhibitors learn more about the fair.  Dylan has participated in two rotations of the Gratiot County 4-H Teen Exchange Club and as a member of the Double C 4-H Club.  Dylan is furthering his education at Alma College where he is a recipient of their Community Engagement Scholarship.

Record Books Updating

1809_recordbooksIt has been a while since the GCFFY large livestock record books have been updated.  The fair board has set up a committee of committed people to review and revise our beef, dairy, feeder, sheep and swine books.  The committee's goal is to have the books completed and uploaded by early 2019.  The fair considers record books one of the most important projects at the fair and will continue to provide a high quality award for the winners.  If your project starts before this time, you can plan on the book asking for cost records and beginning project photographs.


Sale Information

1809_beef_sale 2The Gratiot County community stepped up again to support GCFFY exhibitors at the fair’s livestock and still exhibit sales during the fair.  This year buyers spent $451,130 on exhibitors’ project animals in the Livestock Sale and $114,525 at the fair’s Still Exhibit Sale.  This year the fair sold 58,752 pounds of feeders, 49,849 pounds of beef, 29,686 pounds of swine, 9,813 bounds of sheep and 1,805 pounds of goats. 

Sale checks have been cut for all exhibitors; however, only checks for youth whose buyers have paid have been mailed.  As the remaining buyers pay for their animals, those exhibitors’ checks will be released.


Every year the fair fills its empty livestock and exhibit barn with trailers, motor homes, cars, lawn mowers, golf carts and anything else people want to protect from a harsh Michigan winter.  The fair offered space to our 2017-18 individuals first and will soon open up our available spots for storage.  Our Swine Barn and Feeder Barn fill up quickly since they can store large and tall campers and motorhomes.  For items which can fit under a ten foot door, GCFFY will have space available this year.  Also new this year, GCFFY will be storing items in our fair's Covered Arena at a reduced cost since this building has open sides.  For more information, prices and a reservation form click here.

Off Season Hours

Gratiot County Fair for Youth operates out of the Bill & Grace Vanderbeek Fair Office on the Alma Fairgrounds.  The office will be closed on Tuesdays 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.  

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.