09-01-2016 Kelsey Griffith; Last year as BCYF exhibitor; Pokagon Band Pow Wow Labor Day Weekend

Kelsey Griffith; Last year as BCYF exhibitor

KELSEY GRIFFITH...20 has been showing at he Berrien County Youth Fair since she was five years old.

KELSEY GRIFFITH…20 has been showing at he Berrien County Youth Fair since she was five years old.

By Annette Christie

Kelsey Griffith, 20, of Bainbridge Township, has entered her last exhibits in the Berrien County Youth Fair.  Her title as Berrien County Youth Fair exhibitor is over.  Griffith has been showing at the fair since she was five years old, the first age where children are allowed to show at the fair.  She and her sister provided just enough competition to keep their interest in the many classes that they entered in.  It was against her sister that she had to compete with the most when it came to Fiber Arts, or baskets.  This year Griffith came away with the Champion for Fiber Arts and Overall Grand Champion as well.  She also received Champion for her photo memory project. Showing at the fair has always been a family affair for the Griffiths, and follows family tradition. Kelsey’s mom (Sue Griffith) and aunt (Sheryl Janke) were exhibitors at the fair; Grandma (Kay Janke) was the instructor for baskets; Grandpa (Elden Janke) helps with woodworking; Dad (John Griffith) was the one who helped the girls with their flowers; and Mom who helped with baking.  “My sister and I would have to like rotate between parents and grandparents,” Kelsey said. While both Kelsey and her sister have excelled in many exhibitor classes throughout the years, it is the baskets where they have consistently shined.  This is where the competition especially comes in with her sister (Kristina Griffith) as Kelsey recalls, the only time that she hasn’t won the champion award in that class, is when competing with her.  Each year as they would begin to plan and pick which basket they were going to do, they could select from the large set of ideas from their grandma.  The difficulty would determine the length of the time for the process.  Kelsey recalls some baskets taking six or seven days, with the longest one being about two weeks. Floral excellence is another area where the Griffith girls have won a considerable amount of awards.  In 2015, Kelsey won the Grand Floral Excellence Award, an award given based on the number of exhibits in that area and the grade received on each.  This year she won Reserve Grand Floral Excellence.  One of Kelsey’s favorite memories of the fair was 2014 when she was selected Fair Queen.  Through that title, she was able to see a side of the fair that she had not been as familiar with in the past, or as she describes the full fair experience. Participating in the Fair Queen Contest and the whole experience was a lot more than she expected and she says she has gained some great friendships through it.  As her years as an exhibitor come to a close, one of the things she will miss the most, is the anticipation of finding out what grade you get on your exhibits, and going from barn to barn once they open from the judging to see that grade.  She knows that in the future she will use what she has learned in exhibiting crafts and flowers, something she has really enjoyed.  She hopes to be able to help her grandma with the next generation of exhibitors that she lends her instructing skills to for baskets.  She recognizes that being a fair kid has played such an important role in her life and that she could not really imagine her life without it.  Kelsey will return to Central Michigan University this fall as a junior.  She is studying Elementary Education.  Following her graduation there, she has her sights on the Peace Corps and/or teaching abroad.  Volunteering, which is something she learned through the fair and was very active in, will continue to play a part in her college years and forward.  Just this past December, Kelsey traveled to Peru with the Alternative Breaks Program to build playground equipment.  She is the Chairperson of the International Breaks Program and will be planning future volunteer

Pokagon Band 2016 Pow Wow to take place on Labor Day weekend

  The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi invites the public to its 31st Annual Kee-Boon-Mein-Kaa Pow Wow, the annual celebration of traditional singing, dancing, and culture on Saturday, September 3 and Sunday, September 4. The Pokagon Band’s pow wow arena is located on its Rodgers Lake campus at 58620 Sink Road, Dowagiac. Parking and admission are free.  Kee-boon-mein-kaa in the Potawatomi language refers to the end of the huckleberry harvest, a traditional time of celebration for the Potawatomi people. The pow wow draws dancers and drummers of all ages from the Great Lakes and beyond to compete for prize money in several categories.  This year, organizers have added several new dance contests to attract more contestants including the All Around, where each dancer who competes must dance in all three styles of dance, and a Chicken Dance, which is a vibrant and exciting style that originates from the Plains. Vendors will be selling native artwork, jewelry, crafts, and goods, as well as traditional food.  The Pokagon Youth Council is sponsoring a youth dance on Saturday night from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.  To kick off the weekend, a group of Pokagon women have organized the ninth annual Women’s Water Walk on Friday, September 2. Protecting the water is a traditional responsibility for women in Nishnabe culture.  Following a sunrise ceremony, women and their supporters will walk 15 miles from a tribal lake to the tribal campus at Rodgers Lake. This ceremony and act of walking honors and prays for the waters of the Pokagon Band homelands, and passes on these teachings to others.  The Grand Entries for the pow wow, which are the formal start of the dancing and songs, are at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.  On both mornings, the vendors and cultural presenters will set up before the dancing starts; the gates to the pow wow grounds open at 10 a.m. For more details, visit the pow wow’s web site at www.pokagonpowwow.com.


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