Carol Britten joins the MAFE Hall of Fame
She was born on an August day, and the following month, her parents took her for her first visit to the Hillsdale County Fair. So perhaps it’s not surprising that Carol Britten says, “fairs are in my heart.” They’ve been a part of her for a lifetime. She has exhibited at the Manchester Community Fair since she was a child and became a regular helper in her late teens. She joined the Fair Board in 1980 and has been an active part of both the Manchester Fair and the Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (MAFE) ever since–including serving on the MAFE board, as its president in 1997, and initiating the Communications Awards Program for MAFE that same year.
She also has a certificate honoring an ancestor who exhibited a champion steer at the Hillsdale County Fair in the 1860s, so maybe that lifetime extends back an extra hundred years or so!
It’s fitting, then, that this year the MAFE honored Carol with an induction to its Hall of Fame at its 132nd annual convention, held January 12-14 in Grand Rapids.
The MAFE Hall of Fame, now in its third year, is “designed to recognize the service rendered to fairs, festivals and our industry by individuals who have devoted their time and talents,” according to this year’s program. “The individual(s) shall have been involved with the industry for a minimum of 20 years.”
Carol is one of eight inductees for 2017. The honor was a complete surprise to her while at the convention, although the inductees had been selected last September.
One of the things she enjoys most about her association with MAFE is the opportunity to share ideas, which is why she continues to lead the Communications Awards Program for the past 20 years. From fair books to websites, there are many ways that the various fairs across Michigan share their message with their communities and with other fairs. These are all exhibited at the MAFE Convention, held each January at the Amway Grand Plaza, thanks to Carol and her friend, Kathy Richardson, along with another Manchester area resident, Nancy Thelen.
“The year I was president of MAFE, I visited 42 fairs around the state,” Carol says. “And I can honestly say I got something new and different to bring back to our board, from every one of them.”
Carol and Kathy, both Fair Board members, attend the MAFE each year, bringing back dozens of new ideas to share with the board and the Manchester community. They work tirelessly on the fair every year, starting anew each summer, right after this year’s fair ends. Plus, they also volunteer with the Saline Fair each September. And since that first Hillsdale Fair, Carol has never missed a single one. She applauds its growth and development under its recent management, and looks forward to helping the Manchester Fair continue to thrive as well.
“The fair is the one place where families are still getting together,” Carol says. “I guess I’ll never outgrow it.”
On a personal note, Carol will celebrate 52 years in her beauty shop, Carol’s Cut ‘n’ Curl, on Thursday, February 2.