By: State Rep. Pauline Wendzel
We’re in full fair season, which means it’s my favorite time of the year! County youth fairs are much more than just an excuse to cheat on a diet and grab a corn dog, lemonade, and elephant ear. They’re the epitome of tradition, learning, and community bonding. Recently, Van Buren County hosted another incredible fair, demonstrating the impact these events have in shaping young minds and fostering essential life skills through programs like 4-H.
At first glance, county youth fairs may seem like a fun escape for families, but their impact runs far deeper. The heart of these fairs lies in the 4-H program, an organization that empowers young individuals to develop leadership, responsibility, and essential life skills. As children take part in raising and showcasing animals, presenting craft projects, or displaying agricultural produce, they learn valuable lessons in responsibility, discipline, and perseverance. These experiences become building blocks for a successful future, instilling qualities that will serve them throughout life.
Our local fairs also play a pivotal role in preserving our rural heritage and promoting agricultural awareness. As a member of a fourth-generation farming family, it’s incredibly sad to see a drop off in interest from younger people who would consider farming as a career. As urbanization continues, many children are growing up detached from the roots of their food and the hard work behind it. County fairs provide an excellent opportunity for young generations to connect with agriculture and understand its significance in sustaining our Southwest Michigan communities and the economy of our entire state.
Van Buren County had an excellent fair, and I’m incredibly excited for Berrien and Allegan’s. I want to thank the countless volunteers who put in their time to make sure these event run smoothly, and I look forward to hopefully seeing all of you at one of our county fairs very soon! In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office at 517-373-1799 or at PaulineWendzel@house.mi.gov
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