Marion Fair Board pays 4-H'ers, police investigation still underway

MARION — Those still awaiting payday from showing livestock at the Marion Fair this summer finally have checks to cash after the fair board was able to unfreeze its assets.

While the fair concluded in July, by September, young exhibitors still had not received their money from the sale of their livestock. This prompted an investigation into the matter by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

That investigation is still underway, with no details being released by the sheriff’s office on exactly who is being investigated. However, since the investigation began, the prior president and treasurer resigned.

Daryl Bode, the new Marion Fair Board president, said it’s a great relief to be able to pay the money owed to kids who showed at the fair.

“That was the No. 1 priority for this restructured board,” Bode said. “It was very important to us and we are glad it happened.”

Because of the investigation, assets had been frozen and the board needed to create a new checking account before it could access the money, Bode explained.

“We were helped by the detective investigating this case, who went to court for us to assist with unfreezing the old account,” Bode said. “We were able to access what money was left in the old account, which was just enough to pay the kids.”

More than $37,500 is being dispersed to the 39 kids awaiting their checks, Bode said. Their checks can be picked up at the Osceola County Michigan State University Extension office in Reed City. Any checks not picked up within 30 days will be mailed out.

Now that 4-H’ers are taken care of, the board also has to pay its other outstanding bills, though there are still difficulties.

“The kids have been paid in full, but we have bills of more than $8,000 and only about $4,000 left in the account,” Bode said. “We’re a little behind the eight ball as far as funds go.”

Pressing bills will be paid first while the board comes up with fundraising ideas to come up with money to cover further standard operating costs during the offseason. The board also will work to keep funds coming in to put on a fair next year, he said.

Bode said the restructured board has nothing to do with the sheriff’s office investigation, but will fully cooperate if anything is needed to aid police.

The board is ready to move forward from this situation, Bode said.

“To any of the kids who show at the Marion Fair, we just want to apologize for this delay,” Bode said. “We as a restructured board did not intend this to happen and we do not see it happening again in the future.”