Marion Fair delights all ages

MARION — Children and adults alike found pleasure in attending one of the first fairs of the summer season in Marion from June 22 through June 28.

Between the carnival rides, kids games, music, grandstand events and 4-H shows and exhibits, the week-long event featured a number of attractions for the entire family. Across the midway and the barns, attendees could be found enjoying the sights and sounds despite a rainy start to the week.

Siblings and Marion residents Isabell Bomtekoe, 12, and Mia Bomtekoe, 8, enjoyed a caramel-covered apple at a picnic table while chatting with their grandmother, Judy Wellman, who visited from Jackson. The pair are 4-H members and are not only showing animals, but also have exhibits on display.

"I like this fair because it's not as busy at the Big Rapids or Traverse City fairs," Isabell said. "I like that you can get good seats on the rides."

She said being a part of 4-H also is fun, because she has many friends and family members who are also involved.

"It's fun to compete against my cousins," Isabell added. "Plus, all of my friends are here so I get to see them every day."

Mia agreed.

"I like walking my calf around and I want to win first place," she said.

According to Osceola County 4-H Coordinator Jake Stieg, the Marion Fair is a great fair for young and new 4-H members to "get their feet wet."

"This week we've had perfect weather for shows and it's been a great atmosphere," Stieg said. "For some, this is the first or only fair the youth attend this summer. It's also the culmination of their hard work during the off season."

The Marion Fair also can be the beginning of the end for veteran 4-H'ers.

This summer is the last summer 19-year-old Bridget Moore, of Sears, will be able to participate in 4-H, showing market steers, goats and pigs. After 14 years of being involved, she looks at the fairs ahead with a bittersweet attitude.

"This is kind of what I always looked forward to," Moore said. "I like the atmosphere, I learned a lot from 4-H and it helped me find my passion in animal science. I'm really going to miss it."

4-H taught her responsibility, time management skills and how to manage money. Now, as she ends her 4-H career, she looks to give back by helping and teaching younger children how to do their best in the show ring.

"This has been a very enjoyable fair," Stieg said. "It's been all about the kids."