Fair brings out pride

ESCANABA — The first convention of the Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (MAFE) was held 133 years ago to bring together passionate people representing local fairs with a tremendous amount of pride to promote the development of agriculture and related industries.

The U.P. State Fair had representation at the 133rd MAFE convention last week in Grand Rapids. The theme, People, Passion and Pride, was truly appropriate for the 2018 event.

There were many times when we stood a little taller during the convention, like when our Associate Director, Sheila Krueger, sang the National Anthem to a packed house to kick off the annual meeting, when members of the Skerbeck family were honored and described as hardworking, honest individuals when they received Hall of Fame awards in recognition for their many years of leadership and service to the industry, and when Diane Hanson of Cornell was recognized during the opening session by the deputy director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for representing U.P. agriculture on the State Commission

The U.P. State Fair presented two workshops, Importance of Community Collaboration and Sponsorship Development, during the convention. We were proud to share information about the generosity of the people in the U.P. and their commitment to the successful continuation of the fair, a tradition of pride and passion going back to 1927.

We would not have a fair today if not for the generous financial support of our sponsors, or the passion of the U.P. State Fair Authority members and volunteers who dedicate their energy year-round to ensure the fair’s success, or the fairgoers who show how much they value the fair just by walking through the gates, or the staff and vendors who make sure everyone has a good time when they visit, or the young exhibitors who take pride in their product.

Actually, the fair is a bastion of passionate exhibitors with a friendly, competitive spirit to raise the best livestock, grow the best squash, can the best preserves, bake the best pie or capture the best picture to win the coveted blue-ribbon award.

You can see the pride and confidence on the faces of exhibitors when they know they did something just a little bit better than anyone else.

We left the convention feeling proud to be associated with the people who have the passion to make the fair business successful in the State. I think we’ll borrow the MAFE theme this year for the 2018 U.P. State Fair, our annual celebration of agriculture and community – U.P. People, Passion and Pride Shared Statewide!

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Vickie Micheau is executive director of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce