ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – On Monday the 2023 U.P. State Fair officially opened, and each year hundreds of families make it a yearly tradition to go and enjoy the rides, food, and everything else there is to see.
.But behind all the ribbon cuttings, Ferris Wheels, and fried food, there is a farmer whose family has been showing cattle here for 95 years.
“I’m the lucky one. I’m still able to do it,” remarked Willard Grondine of Grondines Cool Acres Farm.
Willard Grondine or Willy as he’s known to just about everyone has been coming to the fair for over 4 decades. The tradition was started by his Grandfather which was then passed down to his Father, and as a kid passed down to Willy.
“When I was 10 years old my dad took me up here and I had to stay with the cattle,” commented Grondine.
The youngest generation of Willy’s farm is already working to make sure they reach 100 years at the fair. His granddaughter Kiara can be seen hard at work next to her grandfather, making sure everything is set for the fair.
“The animals are my children. I love them,” added Kiara Grondine.
Dairy farming is a tough industry. It is affected by inflation, climate, and plenty of factors out of a farmers control. According to the USDA, just under 2000 or 6% of dairy farms nationwide closed in 2022. Despite all of this, Willy and his family continue to push forward and carry on the family legacy.
“I feel very honored that I’m a part of this family and a part of this line,” Kiaria Grondine proudly stated.
Even as he nears 5 decades of showing his cattle at the fair, Willy doesn’t see a time where he will not continue to do what he’s always done. If there is ever a time where the farm doesn’t have dairy cows, Grondine says he will find something to show at the fair.