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Fair season in full swing, some programs still feeling effects of pandemic

Fair ride at the 2023 Mecosta County Fair
Kaia Zimmerman
Fair ride at the 2023 Mecosta County Fair

Summer fair season is underway in Michigan, but some counties are still feeling the after effects of the pandemic.

According to Montcalm County 4-H Program Coordinator Sunni Haglund, programs around the state took a loss during the pandemic because counties decided to move away from being a 4-H fair. Volunteers defected because of frustrations over Michigan State University’s pandemic polices.

“The 4-H program itself took a huge hit within the counties,” Haglund said. “Because for two years MSU wasn’t really letting the counties have their fairs if it was involved with 4-H, so a lot of the fairs in the counties dissociated from MSU.”

Haglund said the 4-H program in Montcalm County has been able to establish a good relationship with the county since the pandemic.

However she said her county is still recovering from the pandemic when it comes to volunteers and exhibits.

“I think that we are kinda back on the upwards now since it kinda dwindled down a little bit after COVID and people just getting frustrated with some of the policies that were in place, obviously to protect people,” Haglund said. “But it was frustrating for some of the families that have always been doing things for the kids and weren’t able to do anything for the kids for a couple years.”

Haglund said recently the number of volunteers within the program has been trending upward.

The program in Montcalm is focusing on showing people that 4-H is more than just fair and animals as they continue into next year, according to Haglund.