In a world full of iPhones, high-definition televisions, and unlimited forms of entertainment at our fingertips, agricultural fairs and festivals offer an opportunity to go back to our roots; back to a time when everyone knew how to milk a cow and ride a horse. A past life that, to some, seems much further removed than it actually is.
Agricultural fairs are a major factor in Michigan Tourism, bringing in over 4.5 million people per year at eighty-six county or local fairs across the state. That’s over half of the state’s population! With that attendance comes capital—over $18.5 million in livestock auctions last year alone—that is used by the youth to advance agriculture education.
Next week, January 14-16, the Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (MAFE) will host their 131st annual conference at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. The conference is utilized to bring together festival, fair, and MAFE members to share ideas, attend educational workshops, and connect with fair and festival vendors from around the country!
“The Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions is in the business of fun,” explained Lisas Reiff, MAFE Executive Director in a press release. “We have created a convention that takes the fun to heart, with educational activities and a showcase of the very best in entertainment and festival vendors from around the country.”
A free, public Kid’s Showcase is scheduled for Friday, January 15 from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. in the Imperial Ballroom at the Amway Grand Plaza. The children can enjoy free entertainment such as clowns, puppet shows, magic acts, and other potential fair entertainment for the upcoming season.
Not only are the entertainment acts free, but the audience is encouraged to share feedback on the performances because those performances might become Fair and Exhibition acts throughout Michigan in 2016.
“Local fairs are some of the least expensive family oriented entertainment venues in the state of Michigan,” added Reiff. “Families get to spend quality time together, learn where their food comes from, and create lasting memories. Fairs help teach responsibility and good sportsmanship to participants, especially our youth.”
The MAFE conference is a way for everyone involved with agricultural fairs, from top to bottom, to get together in one place and share ideas. It’s an invaluable way to further education for everyone involved. Education events and round-table discussion topics this year will include youth development, educating the public on the importance of agriculture to the economy in Michigan, the contributions MAFE makes each year, promotion of agri-tourism throughout the state, and the economic impact of fairground facilities in our community.