LANSING — Despite the cataclysmic effects the pandemic had on county fair events in 2020, most are expected to take place this year, at least in some form.
The Ingham County Fair in Mason and the Cass County Fair in Cassopolis plan to hold somewhat conventional county fairs, fair officials say.
More than 4.5 million people attend county and state fairs each year according to the Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitors.
In Michigan, there are 86 county fairs, the association said.
Brenda Smego, the executive secretary of the Cass County Fair Association, said she believes that most county fairs won’t be canceled this year — based on recent Zoom meetings she’s attended with other fair officials.
She also said that the Cass County Fair, established in 1851, is preparing for a traditional fair Aug. 1-7.
Moving forward, Smego said that she believes it will feature attractions such as grandstand events, carnival rides and motocross.
“I feel we are in a good position,” she said. “Changes are possible. It also depends on what’s going to happen.”
Unlike previous years when capacity limits were not as strict, this year will be different.
“The hard call is of the numbers that we can have on the premises,” Smego said.
Food vendors are expected.
Instead of a traditional fair last year, there was a Show-N-Go to give young participants the opportunity to show their animals — including swine, horse, rabbits, goats and cows.
All animals and people had to register to be allowed at the fairgrounds.
“It was a different year by all means,” Smego said.
Smego said her association is working with its insurance company, the state and local health departments and the state to make sure all health requirements are met.
The Ingham County Fair, traditionally at the Ingham County Fairgrounds and Exposition Center is planning to hold its 167th event Aug. 2-7.
Lindsey McKeever, the executive director of the Ingham County Fairgrounds, said her group is working hard to remain a steadfast part of the community.
“We do still plan on holding a carnival,” she said. “We will also have a Livestock, Horse and Still Life Expo.”
To show, youth participants aren’t required to be members of 4-H but they must be part of an Ingham County club such as Future Farmers of America, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts and be between the ages of 5-19.
According to McKeever, there will be no grandstand events.
“There is a financial reason behind it,” she said. “We also know there will be capacity limits.”
“We lost $200,000 in total,” last year, she said. “We weren’t permitted to hold horse shows, flea markets, gun shows and other markets. Just for fair week, between $50,000 and $80,000 was lost.”
“The reality is, the fair is going to look different,” McKeever said. “We just hope the community understands.”
For those who can’t wait to enjoy fair food, the Ingham County Fairgrounds will host a Fair Food Drive Thru with vendors on May 8 at 12:30 p.m, and May 9 at noon.
Thousands of people took part in the 2020 event, McKeever said.
“Honestly, last year was really special. Some people probably hadn’t left their house in months,” she said.
LANSING — Amid economic challenges, a new statewide plan and collective efforts could provide more opportunities to showcase the state’s history, preservationists say.
“We want to make it easier to apply for our programs,” said Amy Arnold, a preservation planner for the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office.
Those programs include the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program, Historic Preservation Tax Credits and Certified Local Government partnership.
Arnold said the preservation office will use the 2020-25 Michigan Statewide Historic Preservation Plan in assessing opportunities and challenges that face historic preservation.
According to the agency, it approved 142 projects for tax credits between 2014-19 and distributed more than $1.7 million in additional grants for preservation activities.
The new plan includes preservation education, expanded funding opportunities and increased diversity in historic preservation.
Although funding remains undetermined, Arnold said that the agency anticipates reaching this year’s goals.
She said the state intends to implement the new plan in the next month or so.
“It takes about a year for the whole process,” Arnold said.
Arnold said her office will promote the plan using social media — between its Facebook and Twitter accounts, it has approximately 8,500 followers.
The office will send a link to the plan to Michigan’s 76 communities with historic district commissions, will provide information to participants in the statewide Historic Preservation Network annual conference and email participants at public and stakeholder planning meetings.
Although the federal government requires the preservation office to create a new plan every five years, Arnold said the basic format remains the same.
“What changes is the assessment of accomplishments that highlights actions that were undertaken to meet the last plan’s goals, the identification of the threatened resources and the acknowledgement of issues that will impact preservation over the next five years,” she said.
The plan includes increasing partnerships, such as one with the Department of Natural Resources. The Michigan History Center is part of the department.
“We are committed to the stories and the special places of Michigan,” said Suzanne Fischer, the center’s museum director. “We are always preserving something or someplace for the people of Michigan.”
The center manages 12 historic sites — eight of them in parks. They offer exhibits and programs about Michigan’s history.
They include the Mann House in Concord, Tawas Point Lighthouse in East Tawas and Sanilac Petroglyphs in Cass City.
The Michigan History Center also manages the Ulysses S. Grant home, which was moved last year from the State Fairgrounds in Detroit to Detroit’s Eastern Market. Grant, who later became the 18th U.S. president, lived there from April 1849 to May 1850 while stationed in Detroit as an Army officer, according to Historic Detroit’s website, historicdetroit.org.
“We are really excited to share it with communities,” Fischer said.
To preserve the state’s history takes a “collective effort,” she said.
May is Historic Preservation Month.
Promise recipient accepted into new EEG Program at WSCC
Since 2018, the Mason County Promise Zone has offered tuition scholarships at West Shore Community College to all Mason County residents who graduate with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Carli Kandalec, a 2018 Ludington High School graduate, used her scholar-ship to achieve an associate degree in fall 2020, and will now use the Promise Scholarship to pursue the brand-new electroencephalogram (EEG) program at WSCC.
“I realized I could save more money going to WSCC instead of moving away, because universities cost so much,” said Kandalec, adding that initially, she wanted to pursue EEG, but neither WSCC nor Ferris offered those programs at the time.
The first cohort of the EEG program, which trains students on using high-tech equipment that examines brainwaves, consists of two students, and Kandalec applied with hopes that she would be one of the two. Having achieved a degree already, she was qualified, but Kandalec also used her time at WSCC to do more than just study: She gave back to her community.
A professor suggested that Kandalec become the president of a student organization that she hadn’t even heard of, called PTK. And she took the chance, sharing that “I’ve been able to meet more people, gain communication skills, and plan events like trivia nights, a book club, and a food drive.”
The food drive had to be done with social distancing and virtual meetings due the pandemic.
“We all came together and collected food from the community and were able to provide six big boxes of food to each of the Mason County high schools,” Kandalec stated, adding, “It was amazing and heartwarming to see that something small that we did, helped us give back to the school that we went to. All of the food went into gift bags that helped families out during winter break, and the food was especially helpful because of COVID and the limitations of access to food.”
The Promise scholarship helped make this happen by supporting Kandalec’s college tuition expenses, so she didn’t have to work as much.
“The Promise has worked out,” Kandalec, in ways she never imagined. It has allowed her to pursue a program that she always wanted but initially couldn’t find, to live in her home community and give back to it, and to save money, and work less so that she could graduate and pursue not just one degree, but an additional certificate.
To learn more about Kandalec or the Promise Scholarship, visit www.masoncountypromise.org.