Fair Logo
top banner pictures


Highland Festival Camping
Click here for information about camping on our fairgrounds during the 2016 Highland Festival.
Golf Outing Registration
Gratiot County Fair for Youth is hosting its annual golf outing on Thursday, June 16 at the Fields Golf Course in Ithaca. Following the golf outing will be the GCFFY Appreication Dinner and Road Sign Auction where you that the opportunity to buy the right to have a road during fair named for you. Registration information for the golf outing can be found by clicking here.

Pups R Us 4-H ClubTraining Schedule

Any exhibitor who wishes to be a part of the fair's dog program must also be a member in good standing with Pups R Us. A schedule of their practices can be found by clicking here. According to our rules all first year dog exhibitors must attend at least eight (8) Pups-R-Us 4-H Club obedience, showmanship or agility classes.  After their first year, exhibitors must attend at least four (4) Pups-R-Us obedience, showmanship or agility classes. Beginning with the May 16 training, practices will be at the GCFFY Covered Arena.


Fair Presents its Fair Exhibitor Schedule

fair_book_cover_2016There are only a few minor changes to the GCFFY show schedule this coming year when compared to last summer.  On the schedule are times and location of each event which should help families plan for a successful 2016 fair.  The dates and times are tentative at this time.  A few events have not yet been contracted and there is a possibility of slight changes so please plan accordingly.  Click here for your copy of the exhibitor schedule.  Check your fair book when they arrive in April, which will feature a cover designed by Emma Campbell, for further updates to this schedule.

Fair Board Lowers the Age Cloverbuds Can Exhibit Animals

cloverbud_feederGratiot County Fair for Youth’s Board of Directors lowered the age of Senior Cloverbuds from seven to six.  The difference between junior and senior Cloverbuds as outlined in the fair’s Cloverbud department (111) in the fair book is that Junior Cloverbuds are only allowed to participate with still exhibit projects and senior Cloverbuds may participate in a still exhibit and one animal project.  Cloverbud projects will remain non-competitive following the state 4-H guidelines on 5-8 year old youth.

Maple Leaf Amusements Returns to GCFFY

carnival_star_trooperMaple Leaf Amusements who provided the biggest, most exciting midway for Gratiot County Fair for Youth will be returning to the 2016 fair.  Along with traditional fair favorites like the Sizzler, Carousel and Ferris Wheel, Maple Leaf will bring more thrilling rides such as the Himalaya, Crazy Surf and Star Trooper.  “Maple Leaf Amusements brought GCFFY an amazing carnival in 2015 and we expect they will be even better in 2016”, states Brian Gardner, GCFFY’s Fair Coordinator.  “Maple Leaf has rides for all ages from the youngest riders to the thrill seekers and they are known for having quality workers.”

Tcarnival_himalayahese exciting rides paired with the industry leading Nagel food wagons will continue to make GCFFY an outstanding place for a fun family outing. Expect carnival favorites such as pop corn, carmel corn, elephant ears, lemonade, corn dogs and sausage.  You can also try deep fried Oreos and Twinkies.  Maple Leaf Amusements will be set up at our midway on Monday, August 1and the rides will run through Saturday, August 6.  Presale daily wrist bands will again be available prior to the fair at a reduced price.

Fairgrounds Usage

pavilion_sunriseOn the south side of Alma sits a beautiful facility which might be the perfect location to host your next event.  GCFFY’s fairgrounds is the perfect location for a company retreat or picnic, a peaceful meeting, a family reunion or of course an animal event.  GCFFY has covered picnic areas; an all-weather, technology equipped conference room large barns and arenas.  Our online calendar has all of our events listed at www.gcffy.org found by clicking on Upcoming Events tab.  If you would like to see how GCFFY could serve your needs, contact Brian Gardner at the fair office at 989.875.5292 or bgardner@gcffy.org

Any 4-H club or FFA chapter who is looking for a meeting location or a place to hold your next club event is encouraged to consider the fairgrounds.  The cost for 4-H and FFA groups is often waived depending on the scope of the event and the amount of work it will take fair staff to clean-up after the event.  

Your Help is Needed to Build a Great Fair

Thanks to the 100 donors to date, Gratiot County Fair for Youth is well on its way to meeting its goal of having all 466 trophies and awards it offers sponsored.  Currently the fair is about two-thirds of the way to its goal.  Reaching our goal of 100% trophy sponsorship not only provides well deserved recognition for our exhibitors but it helps the fair complete the funding equation necessary to run a successful fair program, maintain and improve our facilities and provide an educational and memorable fair experience for our exhibitors and our community.
You can help.  You can support the fair through a gift to our annual fundraising campaign.  A class level donation starts at $50 and donors will be recognized with their name on a trophy and will receive a complimentary weekly parking pass.  Pledge forms and additional opportunities are outlined here.

Support Your Fair at the Annual Fair Dinner Dance


Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 19 for the fair's annual Dinner Dance.  Held again at the Elks Lodge in Alma, this great time to reconnect with friends from around the county.  The funds raised will support GCFFY projects such as repairing its aging facilities, improving its accessibility and providing quality ribbons and awards.   A silent auction will also be set up with some great items donated by local businesses and families.  If you have an auction item to donate, contact the fair office with details of your donation.  Dinner is just $25 per guest and will include broasted chicken and pork loin along with salad, corn, mashed potatoes and dessert. Contact a Fair Board member or the GCFFY Fair Office at (989) 875-5252 to purchase your tickets. 

GCFFY Memorial Scholarship

In just its fourth year the Gratiot County Community Foundation’s GCFFY Memorial Scholarship has grown from one $500 scholarship to two $600 scholarships which will be offered to two deserving GCFFY exhibitors.  The scholarship is open for a graduating high school seniors or exhibitors finishing their first year of college, university or trade school and has the following criteria:

  • Must be a graduating high school senior accepted at a college, university or trade school OR a student currently in his or her first year at a college, university or trade school;
  • Must be a current Gratiot County Fair for Youth exhibitor who has participated for a minimum of five years with a preference to exhibitors who participate in multiple areas;
  • Display a commitment to community service;
  • Demonstrate leadership skills;
  • Must not be a previous recipient of this scholarship;
  • Must submit an essay outlining the skills learned as a fair exhibitor and how those skills will serve you throughout your lifetime.  Be certain to address the aforementioned criteria.  Essays must be no longer than one typewritten page in an easy to read font. Also include at least one personal letter of reference. 

Scholarship applications are due in March for this and several other community based scholarships to the Gratiot County Community Foundation.  Every applicant to any Foundation scholarship must have registered for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 8.  More details are available at http://www.gratiotfoundation.org/1/280/scholarships.asp.


GCFFY Market Beef Project

Livestock Sale-44 2The registration deadline to sell market beef projects at GCFFY is 4:00 p.m., Monday, February 22.  To sell market beef as well as market feeder beef, goats, sheep or swine at the Gratiot County Fair for Youth Livestock Sale the animals must be properly registered with GCFFY which includes turning in the registration form in on-time along with pictures of each animal registered showing the animal’s ear tag (which can be read) and already applied in the project animal’s ear.  Official GCFFY tags cost $1 each and are available at the fair office within the MSU Extension Suite which is now located at 219 N. State St. in Alma (the building that houses the Secretary of State).  Market beef project animals must weigh at least 950 pounds when they weigh-in on Sunday, July 31, 2016 and exhibitors are encouraged to make their project selections accordingly.  This year there are no market beef rule changes from those in the 2015 fair book.  Registration forms are online at http://gcffy.org/parts/Registration%20Forms/2016_beef_prereg.pdf.  Contact Brian Gardner at the Fair Office at 989-875-5292 or bgardner@gcffy.org with questions about the registration process or beef superintedents Derek Hessbrook (989 - 620 - 7907) or Ashlee Gibson at (989 - 488 - 7047) or ashlee.gibson@greenstonefcs.com with project animal questions.

PQA Cards Must Be Attached to Swine Registration Form

In order to show market swine projects, exhibitors must attach a copy of a current Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Certificate on their swine registration form.  Gratiot County Fair for Youth requires all swine exhibitors to complete PQA certification which helps to educate youth exhibitors on the best ways to raise a quality meat project. This requirement is at the request of some of the buyers of fair market swine at the fair.  This will mean exhibitors must have the PQA certification completed prior to the May 15 market swine registration deadline.

GCFFY Registration Dates and Information

swine_tag In order to show at GCFFY each exhibitor must be registered.  Most all of the fair events will be signed up for on our fair’s Fair Entry Form (which is due on June 25) however there are a few but very important registration deadlines. 

  • To show a market beef steer, market feeder beef steer, market goat, market lamb the exhibitor must also complete a Market Registration Form along with their fair entry form.  These market registration forms will require the exhibitor to have their animals tagged and provide on their registration form a picture of the animal showing the tag (without being held) in its ear.  All tags must be purchased from the fair office within the MSU Extension Office (now located in Alma).  Tags for beef, feeders, goats and lambs cost $1 each. Swine project animals will use a tag provided at no cost from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.  Swine tags are still available from GCFFY.  The two registration forms required by each exhibitor to exhibit one of these market animals are due at GCFFY’s office within MSU Extension Office at:
Species Market Animal Due Date Fair Entry Form Due Date
MARKET BEEF 4:00 p.m., Monday, February 22 4:00 p.m., Monday, June 27
MARKET FEEDER BEEF 4:00 p.m., Friday, April 15 4:00 p.m., Monday, June 27
MARKET GOATS 4:00 p.m., Monday, May 16 4:00 p.m., Monday, June 27
MARKET SHEEP 4:00 p.m., Monday, May 16

4:00 p.m., Monday, June 27
MARKET SWINE (PIG) 4:00 p.m., Monday, May 16 4:00 p.m., Monday, June 27
  • To show a horse or pony, the exhibitor must complete a horse registration form by Monday, May 2 and turn it into the fair office within MSU Extension’s office (now located in Alma) by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 2.

If you miss your registration deadline, you may still turn in your forms; however, there will be late registration fees.  For the market animals each exhibitor will be charged a $10 per business day fee (where business day is referred to as a day Gratiot County government offices are open) up to one month past the registration deadline (after which registrations will be closed).  Late Fair Entry Forms will cost a flat $25 to enter.


GCFFY Plans Golf Outing


While you have your calendars out, mark the date for the 2016 GCFFY Golf Outing.  The event will be Thursday, June 16 at the Fields Golf Course in Ithaca.  This is always a great outing and odds are you will be able to have a lot of fun, enjoy some golf and help out Gratiot County Fair for Youth.  We hope to see you there.


GCFFY Requires Market Financial Sheet in 2016

At the last meeting of the Gratiot County Fair for Youth Board of Directors, the Board approved requiring a Market Livestock Financial Sheet for each lot (not including crops) sold at the Gratiot County Fair for Youth’s Market Livestock Sale.  “This sheet is set up so that it is easy to complete but requires exhibitors to think about their animals as market projects,” states Fair Coordinator, Brian Gardner.  It helps the exhibitor determine business related factors in raising their project such as total cost, break even price, current market value and the premium over market price for selling at the fair’s sale.  While this sheet will be required, it will not be evaluated and is meant as an educational tool for the exhibitor to better understand their market project.  Completion of the sheet will be mandatory for the exhibitor to receive a check from the sale and does not replace the record books used in fair record book classes.  A copy of the Market Livestock Financial Sheet can be found by clicking here.


Applications Available to Serve on the GCFFY Board of Directors

At GCFFY’s annual membership meeting on Thursday, December 4, its membership will elect four adults and appoint one teen representative to serve on its Board of Directors.  Any adult interested in serving on the Fair Board will want to complete a nominating petition that can be found by clicking here and any teen interested in applying for the Teen Representative position on the Board can download an application by clicking here.

Decrease in Beef and Feeder Numbers Results in Lower Total But Higher Average Sale

saleThe total GCFFY livestock sale auction numbers decreased by 9% in 2015 over the 2014 total numbers.  A total of $577,928.95 was generated for youth exhibitors by our generous buyers.  The reduction in total sale revenue was due to a significant reduction in the number of beef and feeder beef projects in the past year.  Feeder beef numbers dropped from 136 in 2014 to 99 in 2015 and finished beef steers dropped from 52 to 43.  These reduced beef numbers resulted in a 17.7% decrease in pounds of beef sold.  Average bid prices increased over most species and there was a significant increase in swine and sheep market exhibitors.  The small animal portion of the sale increased by 8.7 % and the Still Exhibit Sale broke $100,000 for the first time ever bringing in a total of $103,465. 

Donors Invest in Fair’s Mission

ferris_wheel_nightEvery year it takes considerable resources to maintain our fair’s facilities and to put on the amazing eight day community celebration that is Gratiot County Fair for Youth.  Each year a significant part of our funding equation is made up from donations and sponsorships.  GCFFY appreciates this investment into our mission.  A list of all of our current year financial supporters is found by clicking here.  This list does not include countless others who donate resources and services that often are done without the fair's knowledge.  Services like Bob Bissell donating their services for providing brine on our roads; Roslund Prestage preparing our tax reports; and Butcher Excavating bringing over heavy equipment countless times and never giving us a bill.  Thank you to all of our supporters for all they do for our fair.

GCFFY Awards Butcher & Lakeside Trading Post Appreciation Awards

appreciation_2015_butcherAnnually, GCFFY awards two appreciation awards.  One award is presented to an individual and the other to a business who have made significant contributions towards the fair.  Jack Butcher, our 2015 individual recipient, is the first teen to receive this award since its 1982 inception.  Jack has been a volunteer at the fair for many years.  He has spent countless hours mowing lawn, repairing the facilities, digging holes and doing just about anything that needs to be done.  After the monsoon of 2012 when our fairgrounds took a severe beating, it was Jack who spent hours repairing and leveling our grounds.  Jack was the recipient of the Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions Youth Volunteer of the Year award in 2013.

appreciation_2015_lakesideLakeside Motor Sports is the 2015 business recipient of the fair’s Appreciation Award.  Lakeside Motor Sports along with their sister company, Nelson’s Speed Shop, have provided ATV’s for use during fair week for many years.  Lakeside and Nelson’s have also purchased road signs, sponsored the rodeo, donated to the fair and purchased numerous animals and exhibits at the fair’s sales.  

Click here for a complete list of Appreciation Award Recipients since its inception in 1982.

GCFFY Awards 447 Trophies

trophiesAt fair, GCFFY presented 447 trophies, plaques and special awards to our fair’s exhibitors.  Awards were given out in areas from agriculture to swine and culinary arts to welding.  Congratulations to all of our exhibitors who received recognition from the fair.  A complete list of 2015 trophy recipients can be downloaded by clicking here.

GCFFY Thanks 4-H Clubs and FFA

clean_up15Fair week is the best week of the year! It takes many hands to make our fair the best possible event it can be and our 4-H youth, FFA members, volunteers and families make up the vast majority of GCFFY volunteers.  On behalf of the GCFFY Fair Board, thank you to every one of you who helped.  This year GCFFY created a plan to help us clean up our fairgrounds on Sunday when everyone was leaving.  The fair provided club leaders and FFA advisors with specific job duties to complete before leaving for home.  That post-fair Sunday there were many amazing youth and adults giving of their time and energy to get our fairgrounds put back into shape.  The results were stunning!  Our grounds have never looked better and our fair board members who work so hard during the week were able to leave the fairgrounds without putting in vast hours to clean-up on Sunday.  So a HUGE GCFFY thank you to everyone who helped with that clean-up… or served barn security duty… or helped serve pancakes to the hungry Fair Coordinator… or helped with the River Rock Barn… or helped with a show or event…  or just saw something that needed to be done and did it.  It is the people and especially our 4-H families who make GCFFY the amazing fair it is.

Poultry Exhibitors Make Positive Change

poultry_noA huge GCFFY thank you goes out to our Poultry Superintendent, Clay Mills.  A few short weeks before the fair the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s State Veterinarian cancelled any birds from being exhibited at any fair in the state of Michigan.  Clay outlined a plan for poultry exhibitors to still participate at the fair and to sell their market poultry projects.  Market project birds were already purchased by our exhibitors prior to the MDARD ban.  Trophies were reworked for the year to be appropriate for classes without live birds.  Arrangements were made with the only USDA inspected processing plant in Michigan so GCFFY project birds could be legally sold already processed.  During fair, exhibitors still had a poultry show and did a great job decorating their cages.  At the sale buyers were able to purchase project animals and even pick-up their frozen birds immediately after they checking out.  Making the best out of a difficult situation is where the best stories come from and this was a story with a happy ending.

2016 Fair Dates

fair_book_cover_2015If you have not already done so, be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, July 30 to Saturday, August 6 for the 2016 Fair.  We want to make sure you are part of the best week of the year.  While you are marking, don’t forget to pencil in 2017 dates of July 29 to August 5.  These next two years we will again be using Maple Leaf Amusements who did an exceptional job providing our midway this year.  I can only expect the next two years will be even better.

Pictured is the 2015 Fair Book Cover artwork by Emma Campbell

Gratiot County Community Foundation and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Award Grants

gccf_logomdard_logoGratiot County Community Foundation and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development have awarded generous grant funding to Gratiot County Fair for Youth to develop new the new south parking area and to move 24 campsites. Grant funding has helped GCFFY fund installation of new roads and driveways, leveling and planting of the parking area south of the main Armory, establishing twenty-four new campsites, fencing to funnel visitors away from campsites and placing signage to help direct visitors to the new parking areas.  This project has been done because of upgrades by the local Armory that were necessary to keep them within increased national security guidelines.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development awarded GCFFY $20,000 in grant funding from their competitive Fair Capital Improvement matching grant program.  Gratiot County Community Foundation awarded the fair $5,000 which can be used to offset the state’s matching grant requirement.  The completed project is expected to cost GCFFY over $50,000.  Other donations of in-kind services and even from the Beebe Beef 4-H Club will help offset the costs of the improvements.

Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee Awards GCFFY Grant for Soy Based Products

soybean_commission_logoFrom the diesel fuel that powers GCFFY grounds equipment to the soap pumped in the bathrooms GCFFY is utilizing many soy based products thanks to a generous matching grant from the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee.  This grant helps the fair use green, renewable resources. In the three years funding has been awarded the fair has used these biorenewable products in its paint and stain, bio-diesel fuel, hand soap, and even the ink in our commercially printed products. Funding for this grant comes from money soy bean farmers contribute and supports community fairs across the state.


Gratiot County Community Foundations Awards Two GCFFY Memorial Scholarship Recipients    

crumbaugh_courtney 2martinsladeCourtney Crumbaugh from Ithaca and Slade Martin from Elwell were awarded the Gratiot County Fair for Youth Memorial Scholarship from the Gratiot County Community Foundation.  These scholarships will be paid from the community foundation’s endowed GCFFY Memorial Scholarship Fund.  This fund is still growing and awards only the earnings from the fund's balance as scholarships. 

Courtney Crumbaugh graduated from Ithaca High School and is enrolled at Kettering University where she will attend in the fall.  Courtney started exhibiting projects at the fair as a Cloverbud participant and every year added new projects to show.  Over the past two years, Courtney served as the Teen Representative on the fair’s Board of Directors where she actively served and was a familiar face in the fair office during fair week. 

Slade Martin is a 4.0 graduate from Alma High School and a twelve year fair exhibitor.  Slade has shown feeders, chickens, turkeys and projects at the fair.  This fall he will begin studying at Michigan State University as a Spartan.  Slade credits the fair and 4-H for helping to instill in him responsibility and leadership.  He served as the president of the Seville Superstars 4-H Club and a counselor for the Gratiot County 4-H Coldwater Camp.

Lance Fowler and Phil Lombard Join GCFFY’s Team

GCFFY is pleased to welcome Lance Fowler and Phil Lombard aboard our fair’s staff team.  Lance is serving in the position of the Fair Intern where he is already in the office entering data and helping to coordinate events.  Lance is a past GCFFY exhibitor, a CMU student and is completing his tenure as a State Officer of the Michigan FFA.  If you have driven by the fairgrounds lately and have thought wow this place looks great, you can thank Phil.  Phil is our new groundskeeper as well as a former fair dad and current fair grandfather.  GCFFY asks that you give them a warm welcome to the fair.

GCFFY has Moved!!!

alma_msue_office 2Gratiot County Fair for Youth, who's office has been located with MSU Extension since its inception in 1950, has moved along with MSU Extension. MSU Extension and GCFFY now have the following mailing address and are now located at:

    219 N. State St.
    Alma, MI 48801
This is the same building that houses the Alma Secretary of State office which is physically about one mile north of the fairgrounds.  All of phone lines will remain the same.  Stop by and say “hi” if you are in the area. GCFFY is proud to be affiliated with our MSU Extension Partners who help the fair in numerous ways and thanks Gratiot County for their continued support.  

Fairgrounds Usage

On the south side of Alma sits a beautiful facility which might be the perfect location to host your next event.  GCFFY’s fairgrounds is the perfect location for a company retreat or picnic, a peaceful meeting, a family reunion or of course an animal event.  GCFFY has covered picnic areas, an all-weather, technology equipped, conference room, large barns and arenas.  Our online calendar has all of our events listed at www.gcffy.org found by clicking on Upcoming Events tab.  If you would like to see how GCFFY could serve your needs, contact Brian Gardner at the fair office at 989.875.5292 or bgardner@gcffy.org

Any 4-H club or FFA chapter who is looking for a meeting location or a place to hold your next club event is encouraged to consider the fairgrounds.  The cost for 4-H and FFA groups is often waived depending on the scope of the event and the amount of work it will take fair staff to clean-up after the event. 

GCFFY Sets Fair Dates

Along with signing a three-year carnival contract, GCFFY also confirmed our fair dates for the 2015 – 2017 years.  This will help exhibitors and families plan their summer schedules.  The dates will be:

  • July 25 – August 1, 2015
  • July 30 – August 6, 2016
  • July 29 – August 5, 2017

We now know what will be the BEST week of the year!!!


Gratiot County Fair for Youth Campsite Procedures

This time of year, we want to remind all of our exhibitor families and future fair families about our fair campsite procedures.  Campers who camped during our last fair will be offered their sites first.  Letters will go out the end of November for these campers to pay for their sites and sign they understand and agree to our camping rules.  If campers want to move after everyone has responded, we do our best to accommodate requests.  The next step is to review our campsite waiting list.  Currently we have 26 families on this list.  The fair will contact families on this list in the order they were received until all of our empty sites have been filled.  To get on the waiting list or if you have any questions, contact the fair office at 989-875-5292 or bgardner@gcffy.org.  Please provide us your name, address, phone number (including cell phone) and email address.  Families will be added in the order they were received.


Find us on Facebook

facebook_f_logoThe Gratiot County Fair for Youth and the Gratiot County 4-H Programs both have active Facebook accounts.  These accounts are used to provide you with current information about their respective programs.  Everyone wants to be liked so please "like" them and make sure you are receiving current information.

If you have "liked" us on Facebook and we do not show up on your feed, go to our page and like a post or two or make a comment.  Active participation on a page will ensure you are receiving the information we are distributing.

The Gratiot County Fair for Youth's Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/gcffy and the Gratiot County 4-H page is https://www.facebook.com/GratiotCounty4H.