May 22 05:20 AM

Witnessing a sense of pride in our communities

August 08, 2007
Most if not all local businesses are facing challenging economic times. And there is no easy route to beating these rough times.

I see it every day.

Can you see, can you feel the scales start to tip in a more favorable direction?

I saw it and felt it this weekend at the Blueberry Festival in Imlay City. The town was humming with people of all ages. Local people walking the streets, taking in the festivities, smiling and laughing.

A couple weeks ago, Capac held its 150th celebration. Again, people responded and came from their homes to enjoy what the community had to offer. There was talk of new jobs from a manufacturing plant and Govenor Granholm visited.

In Almont, the concert in the park series is gaining popularity and the Almont Farmers Market is drawing more each week.

Dryden has a fledgling flea market which is also gaining momentum.

So you see, maybe there is room for hope?

There seems to be a growing sense of pride in the communities we live in. A growing sense of optimism, even though we are in the midst of the biggest economic downturn since 1980.

It takes a good dose of courage and creativity just to keep the doors open for business. Our local merchants, organizations and civic leaders are fighting back to hang on. As if they are feeding off the success of Capac's 150th, off Almont's Farmers Market and Imlay City's Farmers Market, free concerts and movies and of course, the Blueberry Festival.

The Downtown Development Association in each of our communities should be commended for their efforts, the Chambers should be applauded and the volunteers thanked.

It seems there is a renewed interest in local events. A deeper sense of appreciation of the communities we live in and raise our children in.

There may not be a finer example of good old fashioned entertainment and connection to community than the annual Eastern Michigan Fair. Its 109-year-old tradition is as alive and well today as it ever has been.

It wasn't long ago the Eastern Michigan Fair and its governing body, the Lapeer Agricultural Society, was faced with some very tough decisions. Basically, they were in debt, they had an aging fairgrounds in need of building repair, infrastructure repair and declining fair attendance.

Their choices were limited. The fair board talked about selling parts of the fairgrounds, all of the fairgrounds to ease the deficit. They could have given up and moved out of town.

The board didn't give up, they instead summoned all the courage they could muster and came up with a plan to revitalize the fairgrounds. They used sound business practices and offered entertainment value to its visitors. And they were determined to succeed.

And succeed they did.

The board sought out volunteers, sponsors and asked for understanding from their members. They set goals. They made tough decisions.

Today, the Eastern Michigan Fair is in great financial and physical shape. The board purchased additional property, repaired plumbing problems, fixed electrical lines and laid an asphalt midway.

Their reward has been increased revenue, attendance and confidence.

Determination and heart generally win out and it clearly showed its face at the Eastern Michigan Fairgrounds.

There is no easy route to success, but the route the Eastern Michigan Fair board chose appears to have been the right one!

Email Randy at: with your comments.

Randy is the President of Page One Inc., which publishes the Tri-City Times, Woods-N-Water News and Page One Printing Company. He has been with the company since 1980. Randy has been writing a local column for 27 years on community events, individuals, sports, hunting and fishing adventures.
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