2013-08-15 / Viewpoint

The VIEW from here

The county fair — a time-honored tradition


Gary Gould — Managing Editor Gary Gould — Managing Editor For 164 years the Genesee County Fair — currently taking place through Aug. 18 — has showcased the produce, livestock and traditions of area farmers and the local 4-H clubs.

Many may look at the county fair as a throwback to an era of agriculture which once existed in the area, but surprisingly that lifestyle isn’t so hard to still find these days in the rural parts of Genesee County.

Farmers and 4-H kids still bring their livestock to show and auction at the fair. There is also an annual sheep shearing competition that attracts contestants from across the U.S. and rumored to be coming this year are Canadians — making the event an international show.

Of course the fair is also filled with other fun and entertaining attractions. There’s the midway with plenty of carnival rides for kids of all ages to enjoy. There is also a demolition derby, rodeo, combine derby, monster trucks and this year, entertainment Aug. 16-17 by country performers Jana Kramer and Billy Currington.

The fair is as fun as it sounds and makes for a perfect day-long event for the whole family, close to home and filled with something to do for everyone. The cost is just parking and a grand stand pass for the major events — while seeing the livestock and produce displays is free.

But the fair, specifically the entities who put it on — the 4-H and the Michigan State University Extension — are in danger of being put out to pasture after last year’s failure of a 0.02 mill proposal to fund the extension office in Genesee County. The proposal would have netted the MSUE $176,104 annually — or about $1 per person, per year — in Genesee County.

For whatever reason, whether it was simple household economics or the fact the millage was buried on the end of a complicated two-page ballot in the

2012 general election, the request failed. The Genesee County

Board of Commissioners found some money in its budget to keep the program going, but 4-

H officials said they aren’t so sure the county will be able to continue footing that bill.

A new proposal to support MSUE and its programs — like the master gardener and 4-H programs — will likely be on the November ballot. Organizers are hoping voters will approve the measure to keep the programs, the 4-H and the county fair open.

I don’t like spending more money on taxes, but I can’t think of something more worthy of $1 a year than a program like MSUE.

No, Michigan State University doesn’t run it, the programs have to be under the umbrella of a college with an agricultural program. This is money that will stay in Genesee County and will benefit Genesee County people.

I urge everyone to at least look at and seriously consider this ballot proposal once it is placed on the ballot. See what it’s about, see who and what your tax money will benefit and then decide. For many, particularly the youth in 4-H, the program means a world of difference in their lives. And keep on enjoying the fair and making it a tradition for many more years to come. ggould@mihomepaper.com

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