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Highland Festival Camping

Want to camp for Highland Festival? Gratiot County Fair for Youth is just the place. Affordable lots are just 1.5 miles from the Alma College venue. Registration forms and more information are available here.


GCFFY Seeks Seasonal Custodian Position to Perform Grounds Maintenance

Gratiot County Fair for Youth is seeking a motivated part-time employee who will be responsible for maintaining the fair’s grounds and setting up for upcoming events.  The selected candidate will provide quality and friendly support for GCFFY staff, volunteers, vendors and guests.  Responsibilities to include mowing, trimming and grooming fairgrounds lawns, maintaining fair’s buildings, restrooms and equipment.  The hours are variable and flexible and seasonal position will run from spring through fall.  Interested candidates will find a job description (Click Here for a Job Description) and job application (Click Here for Job Application).  Submit completed application and cover letter by Monday, April 20 to GCFFY, 219 S. State St., Alma, MI 48801 (Enter by Secretary of State in Alma) or by email to bgardner@gcffy.org.  Contact Brian Gardner at 989-875-5292 or bgardner@gcffy.org for more information.


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.  

Fair Presents its Fair Exhibitor Schedule

There 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 2015 fair.  The dates and times are tentative at this time however.  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.

Camping Update


GCFFY has not yet mailed letters to families who camped with us last year. These letters have been delayed because the fair wanted to wait until the changes in the Armory could be seen and the board could visualize how their project will impact camping at the fairgrounds.   Furthermore the board wanted to make a few decisions on camping.  GCFFY is committed to replacing campsites and is planning to install new campsites near the campsites the fair installed in 2011 however due to MDEQ regulations GCFFY must remain at 150 campsites unless we add additional shower stalls which is not planned for 2015.

For families who camped at last year's fair, renewal letters will be mailed in the next couple of weeks with 2015 camping registration forms and additional information. The camping rate will be $125 for fair.  The letters will not guarantee the exact spot campers had last year but will guarantee a spot provided the MDEQ approves our plan for replacing the displaced campsites.  If you are interested in moving to a different spot, please let the fair know by listing that on the cover of the camping agreement.  This year because of the displaced campsites already occuring because of the Armory renovations, moving sites will be much more difficult.

Camping at GCFFY is first offered to campers who camped at the fair in past years.  Campers will be offered the rate of $125 who have a fair exhibitor staying with them or have either a fair board/staff member or a superintendent who is over a species that is housed on the fairgrounds.  The rate for everyone else is $250.  To fill campsites that are vacant after letters are sent, GCFFY will contact individuals on our fair's Master Camping Waiting List.  Individuals will be called from the top of the waiting list and given a short time to accept a campsite.

For individuals who would like to be added to the fair's campsite waiting list, contact Brian Gardner at bgardner@gcffy.org or 989.875.5292 and give me your name, address, email and best phone number to be reached and I will put you on our waiting list for a campsite. If you call and I do not pick up the phone, leave a message and I will confirm to the email address you provide and add you at the time the message was recorded on our voice mail. Currently there are over 40 families on that list which while not impossible, it is likely camping will not be available in 2015 but once you are on the list, you will remain on the list until a campsite becomes available.

New Rides Make for a Great Midway

RampageMaple Leaf Amusements have added five exciting new rides to their ride package last year that will excite and possible terrify riders at Gratiot County Fair for Youth next summer.  The new rides range from the fast moving Crazy Surf to the sixty foot tall and exciting Rampage.  “Last fall when GCFFY met with Maple Leaf Amusements, their owners, John & Erin Fitzgerald talked about how they wanted to add height to their midway”, states Brian Gardner, GCFFY’s Fair Coordinator.  “That is exactly what they did as three of the new rides will make those with a fear of heights nervous but will excite the thrill seekers among us.”  Along with the visually Rock-O-Planestunning Rampage, is the Rock-O-Plane which goes around like a Ferris Wheel but allows the riders to spin their seats.  The other ride to bring height to the midway is the Star Trooper.  A more family oriented ride to round out the mix is the Raiders which has a course with hanging bridges, a rope ladder and slides.  “Maple Leaf is planning to provide us more rides than in the past,” states Gardner.  “They have a great vision on how to make our midway fun and special.” 

These exciting rides will be paired with the industry leading Nagel food wagons will continue to make GCFFY an outstanding place for a fun family outing. Maple Leaf Amusements will be set up at our midway on Monday, July 29 and the rides will run through Saturday, August.  Features this year will include prepurchased wrist bands at $8 per day and an opportunity to win a car (used) for anyone who purchases a daily wrist band.

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. 

Your Help is Needed to Build a Great Fair

thermometerThanks to the 83 donors to date, Gratiot County Fair for Youth is well on its way to meeting its goal of having all 446 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 14 for the fair's annual Dinner Dance.  This great time to reconnect with friends from around the county will be held again at the Elks Lodge in Alma.  More details will be coming your way very soon.  We hope to see you there.

GCFFY Memorial Scholarship

In just its third year the Gratiot County Community Foundation’s GCFFY Memorial Scholarship has grown from one $500 scholarship to two $550 scholarships which will be offered to a deserving GCFFY Exhibitor.  The scholarship is open for a graduating high school senior or an exhibitor finishing their first year of college, university or trade school and has the following criteria:
Scholarship 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 GCCF Scholarship must have registered for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 1.  More details are available at http://www.gratiotfoundation.org/1/280/scholarships.asp.


GCFFY Registration Dates and Information

swine_tagIn 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 market animals must get their tags from the fair office within the MSU Extension Office (now located in Alma).  Tags for beef, feeders, goats and lambs cost $1 each and the swine tags (NEW: GCFFY will ONLY require the MDARD tag in 2015 and not a GCFFY tag) will be at no cost.  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 2 4:00 p.m., Thursday, June 25
MARKET FEEDER BEEF 4:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 15 4:00 p.m., Thursday, June 25
MARKET GOATS 4:00 p.m., Friday, May 15 4:00 p.m., Thursday, June 25
MARKET SHEEP 4:00 p.m., Friday, May 15 4:00 p.m., Thursday, June 25
MARKET SWINE (PIG) 4:00 p.m., Friday, May 15 4:00 p.m., Thursday, June 25
  • To show a horse or pony, the exhibitor must complete a horse registration form by Friday, May 1 and turn it into the fair office within MSU Extension’s office (now located in Alma) by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 1.

If you miss your registration deadline, you may still turn in your forms however there will be 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

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While you have your calendars out, mark the date for the 2015 GCFFY Golf Outing.  The event will be Thursday, June 18 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 Market Beef Project

Livestock Sale-44The registration deadline to sell market beef projects at GCFFY is 4:00 p.m., Monday, February 2.  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 26, 2015 and exhibitors are encouraged to make their project selections accordingly.  This year there are no market beef rule changes from those in the 2014 fair book.  Registration forms are online at http://gcffy.org/parts/Registration%20Forms/2015_beef_prereg.pdf.  Contact Brian Gardner at the Fair Office at 989-875-5292 or bgardner@gcffy.org with any questions.

Market Goat Age Change

Goats-20​At last week’s GCFFY Board of Directors meeting the Board changed how it will determine the age of a market goat at the fair.  Previously the board required market goats to be born after January 1 of the current year.  This rule was difficult to enforce and would require goat breeders to aim for early January kids which in harsh winters which is very difficult on the babies during harsh winters.  To overcome the board adopted a rule requiring all market goats showing at GCFFY to still have their milk (baby) teeth at the fair’s check-in.  This will allow exhibitors to purchase animals which could have been born prior to January 1 as long as they have their milk teeth at the fair.  For more information or questions, contact Brian Gardner at GCFFY at 989-875-5292 or bgardner@gcffy.org.

GCFFY Signs Carnival Contract with Local Company

Picture with KidsGratiot County Fair for Youth signed a three year contract with Maple Leaf Amusements.   Maple Leaf is a local company who calls Breckenridge home.  Erin Fitzgerald, who co-owns the company with her husband John, is a alumna of Breckenridge High School. Erin is from the Nagel family which is famous for providing outstanding, clean fair food wagons which will satisfy fair goers cravings for handmade lemonade, elephant ears, pizza, french fries, cotton candy, caramel apples, corn dogs, deep fried Oreos and of course Nagel polish sausage. The amusement company currently has 15 rides and plans to add at least two additional rides this winter. 

"John and Erin [Fitzgerald] have already been over to scope out the fairgrounds and have some exciting ideas of how to set up our midway," states Becky Hirschman, GCFFY Board President, "I am excited to see Maple Leaf Amusements at the fair and look forward to introducing them to our visitors next summer."  Hirschman reported she and other board members went to see Maple Leaf's rides in Greenville earlier this summer and were impressed with their workers and the condition of their rides.  The company's rides include such staples as the Ferris Wheel, Sizzler, Tilt-A-Whirl, Fun House and swing.  The Fitzgeralds plan to bring a variety of rides to appeal to all ages and sizes.

Another exciting addition this year will be that families will be able to pre-purchase an unlimited daily ride ticket for just $8.  Maple Leaf Amusements will also be giving away a free used car to someone who purchases a wristband throughout the week.  GCFFY is excited to work with Maple Leaf Amusements and proud to welcome them to their hometown fair.

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!!!

2015 timeline photo


Grant from Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee Helps GCFFY Become Greener

mspc_4c_noaddressThanks to a grant from the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, Gratiot County Fair for Youth was able to utilize many soy based products.  Perhaps you saw one of the many signs around the grounds informing about the soy products used this year.  But in case you did not, GCFFY used soy biodiesel to fuel our tractors, soy paint to paint the cafeteria and inside our barns, soy ink to print our fairbooks and brochures, and even soy based stain to coat the deck surrounding the Vanderbeek Fair Office.  Even when you pumped soap on your hands you were supporting soy based products and helping us protect the environment.

Dan Rossman & the Fields Golf Course Receive Appreciation Awards

Rossman Opening CeremoniesAnnually, Gratiot County Fair for Youth presents an individual and a business with the fair's prestigious Appreciation Award.  The Appreciation Award is the highest award the fair presents and it recognizes outstanding commitment to the fair.

Dan Rossman who recently retired after 34 years with MSU Extension is the recipient of this year’s Individual Appreciation Award.  In his role with MSU Extension, Dan has always strived to facilitate a great collaborative relationship with the fair even providing the fair a home within the MSU Extension Office.  

"Dan has been a great friend to the fair for many years," states Brian Gardner, Fair Coordinator.  "He has humbly helped us in many ways and I expect he will continue to be a good friend to the fair for years to come."  At the fair, Dan has ran GCFFY's Crop & Weed ID Contest and helped to put the fun into the Ag Olympics.  Over the years, Dan has spent countless hours helping out the fair in numerous different capacities.  The fair recognizes Dan’s incredible service to the fair and Gratiot County.
Fields Opening CeremoniesReceiving the Business Appreciation Award is the Fields Golf Course in Ithaca.  John & Amy Crumbaugh purchased the course in 2010 and transformed it into an outstanding course in mid-Michigan.  The Fields which is managed by Noah Moomey has hosted GCFFY's golf outing for the past three years.  

"The Fields do everything but hit the ball for us to ensure everyone has a good time," states Gardner.  "The Fields and also John & Amy Crumbaugh was a natural choice. They are great friends to the fair in many ways"  Additionally, the Fields have sponsored the Rodeo, donated to the fair, and purchased many sale items.  The Fair recognizes John & Amy and all of the staff at the Fields for their commitment and dedication to the fair.

A complete list of past GCFFY Appreciation Award Recipients is available here.

Fair Donors Complete GCFFY’s Funding Equation

Still Exhibit Judging-37Every year countless donors help to fulfill GCFFY's funding equation.  Our annual fundraising campaign is set up around "sponsoring" our fair class trophies.  Each donor who gives to the fair not only allows us to provide trophies and recognition, it helps us maintain our facilities, administer the programs we offer and remain sustainable as a 501(c)(3) public charity.  Donations are critical for the annual success of the fair and for special projects such as funding the construction of the Vanderbeek Fair Office, the Feeder Barn and the renovation of the North Horse Barn.  Let’s give a big GCFFY thank you to each and every donor who made this a successful year.  Click here for a list of 2014 donors.
This fall, GCFFY will again ask this generous community to support the fair’s programs and facilities.  The fair will have a lot of work to do with all of the changes happening next door at the Armory and we want to continue to provide our exhibitors with a first rate fair experience.  For more information on how you can become a GCFFY donor, contact the Fair Office at 989-875-5292.

Fair Exhibitor Survey

GCFFY constantly wants to improve how the fair operates.  To help us make our great fair even better we are asking exhibitors and families to take a few moments to complete an online survey.  The survey is found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PPVHH5S.  Alternately, if you would like to just pick up the phone and chat, please feel free to contact Brian Gardner at 989-875-5292 or bgardner@gcffy.org.

GCFFY Total Sales top $700,000

SaleLocal businesses, farmers, families and relatives signed up to support Gratiot County Fair for Youth exhibitors at the fair’s local sales.  The sales exceeded $700,000 in income for the first time in GCFFY’s history showing an increase of 8.8% over 2013 and 106.8% since 2006.  Increases in sale revenue are indicative of market prices and increased community support. GCFFY thanks each sale buyer who came to the fair and bid on animals and still exhibits. 




GCFFY Seeks Board Members

Opening Ceremonies-1Gratiot County Fair for Youth will hold its annual board meeting on Thursday, December 4.  At this meeting, the board will elect four members to its Board of Directors and will appoint a new Teen Representative.  The fair board typically meets the first Thursday of the month at the fair office in Alma.  At the meeting, the board sets policies, reviews financial reports and provides direction and oversight of the fair.  Individual directors will be called upon to attend and actively participate in meetings, help maintain and improve fairgrounds during clean up events and serve on committees as assigned by the board president. Additionally during the week of the fair board members are asked to be accessible for meetings, help set up and take down events and serve one assigned day as the formal Day Chair.  If you have any questions, please contact the fair office at 989-875-5292 or bgardner@gcffy.org.

Anyone interested in running for the board can find a nomination form by clicking here.

GCFFY Is Searching for New Teen Representative

At the fair’s Annual Meeting of its membership on Thursday, December 4, the board will appoint a new Teen Representative to serve as a full voting member on the fair’s Board of Directors.  The new member will serve a two year term on the board.  GCFFY is committed to being a youth fair and having teen members on its board will help to ensure the board maintains that vision.  Teen Representatives are often asked for their opinion on items being discussed by the board and their opinion is always welcome and appreciated.
Anyone interested in applying to be a Teen Representative for the board will find an application here. 

GCFFY Annual Meeting

The next Gratiot County Fair for Youth Annual Membership Meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 4, 2014.  The location is tentatively set to be the Gratiot Isabella RESD Building in Ithaca.  At this meeting GCFFY will elect four positions on the Board of Directors, appoint a new Teen Representative to serve on the board and enact any possible by-law changes.  The fair will also present its annual report to the community with information on fair participation, financial reports, and updates on what projects were accomplished and what will be planned for the following year.  This meeting is open to the public and GCFFY’s community is encouraged to come and support the great programs that happen at the fair.

Gratiot County Community Foundation Awards Grant to Improve Safety and Accessibility to Gratiot County Fair for Youth


The Gratiot County Community Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to the Gratiot County Fair for Youth.  The grant will be used to improve accessibility and safety on the Alma fair grounds.  The grant funded project will improve four key areas of the fair.  First GCFFY will improve access and safety to the fair’s Covered Arena by paving around the seating area of the south set of bleachers and paving a path into the arena.  The Covered Arena is where the majority of the fair’s events are held including the youth livestock and exhibit auctions and the horse pull.  The second improvement the fair will make will be to replace the sandy entrances to the North Horse Barn with paved entrances. Continuing with paving improvements, the fair will pave around its Pioneer Pavilion and create a paved walk to its Cafeteria building.  The final project will be to upgrade the fairs public address system located within the fair office that will allow the fair to better communicate emergencies.

“We are very pleased the Gratiot County Community Foundation chose to partner with us to make these upgrades on our fair grounds,” states the fair’s President, Becky Hirschman.  “These improvements will help better serve our community and the support of the Foundation will help the fair better accomplish its organizational mission.”

The grant from the Gratiot County Community Foundation will be used as a match to a grant the fair received earlier from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development which requires a local match thus doubling the impact of the Foundation’s award.


4-H Leaders' Council Cookbook Features Many Recipes From Fair

If you haven't purchased your copy of the Gratiot County 4-H Leaders' Council Cookbook, you should.  The collection of recipes is exceptional and many recipes were submitted by GCFFY exhibitors who entered these recipes at fair.  The cookbooks are just $12 each and include a free e-book copy. All proceeds from this fundraiser go directly to Gratiot County 4-H Leaders’ Council in support of educational programs.  Cookbooks may be purchased from the MSU Extension Office in Ithaca or from a 4-H Leaders’ Council representative.

GCFFY Calendar

Anyone intersted in knowing what is going on at the fairgrounds is encouraged to visit our Upcoming Events page at www.gcffy.org. (Click here to open)  New at the top of the page is the fairgrounds usage calendar.  If you are interested in doing something at the fairgrounds, check the calendar to either make sure your event is listed or to check to see if the area you are interseted in using is available.  To schedule or change something, contact Brian Gardner at bgardner@gcffy.org or (989) 875-5292.

GCFFY facilities are available to 4-H Clubs and FFA Chapters most generally at no charge.  The fair in return will ask that the facilities be left as good or better than you found them.  Horse clubs interested in setting up times to ride in the arena are asked to contact Becky Hirschman at (989) 875-3355 or becky_hirschman@hotmail.com.

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.