It is virtually unprecedented, but when you find a winner, you continue to ride. Cass County’s Brian Kuemin has been President of the Michigan Association of Fairs & Exhibitions for two consecutive years. That’s pretty standard — a two year term. However, they seem to have found the winner they want to keep at the helm, because for an unprecedented third consecutive year, Kuemin will hold the reins for the statewide association, serving in their 135th Anniversary year as the organization’s President.
Kuemin says, “Celebrating their 135th year, MAFE normally elects their presidents for two terms, and I am very honored to serve this organization in this capacity.”
Fairs are a vital part of Michigan communities, with 4.5-million visitors in attendance at county fairs represented in the MAFE organization during their fair weeks, and another 2-million visiting those same fairgrounds during off-season events. Kuemin is quick to point out, “Fairs make a significant impact on Michigan’s economy,” adding, “To put it into local perspective, Cass County has approximately 50,000 residents, and we have about 45,000 people attending our fair.”
Lisa Reiff, MAFE Executive Director, says, “Brian has done a remarkable job as President of MAFE, not just for this organization, but for fairs in the entire state. He brings so much knowledge to the position and his enthusiasm is infectious. He has testified before committees in Lansing and does so much to promote this industry. Personally, I would like to add that I really enjoy working with him. We are lucky to have him and his entire family.”
MAFE holds their annual Fair Convention in January, bringing educational seminars, up-to-date rules and regulations from USDA and MDARD, workshops, round-table discussions, a trade show, fair entertainment possibilities and a large networking opportunity to those attending. “In turn,” Kuemin explains, “those county fair associations take the information they were able to obtain back home and incorporate it into what works best for them.” Fairs are always looking for ways to improve the experience for their visitors.
Kuemin, who has served on the Cass County Fair Board for 24 years, is celebrating his second year as president locally, with Patty Dohm saying, “If ever there is someone that has ‘fair’ running through his blood, it is Brian,” as she adds, “I’ve known him since he was in high school, working for us in the 4-H office of MSU Extension as summer youth help, and it doesn’t surprise me that he does such a great job. He is, and always has been, extremely dedicated to this.”
In his spare time, Kuemin is an MHSAA (Michigan High School Athletic Association) wrestling official, and the co-head official of the Southwest Michigan Youth Wrestling Association. A wrestler himself in high school, he has been officiating for 14 years. He and his wife, Melody, have been 4-H leaders for 28 years, enjoying working with the youth that drive and show their Haflinger horses.
If you ever wonder whether fair blood runs through Kuemin’s veins, take note that this month, his daughter Courtney was hired by the Berrien County Youth Fair as their communication and development coordinator, as he proudly proclaims, “Fair is all she has ever known, she’s a natural. I was elected to the Cass Fair Board right after she was born, and our favorite family trips were visiting other fairs all over the state.” He concludes, “And this will be great… I can work at my fair, then go watch her work all week at hers!”