Michelle Lynne Hulshof
by Myra Chepack
Michelle was the second of four children born to Thea (Brus) and Paul (John Paul), Hulshof. She arrived on June 1st, 1981, two years behind brother Bryant Paul, who served Markham Fair as president in 2015. Emigrating to Canada in the 1950’s from Holland, both the Brus and Hulshof families began dairy farming. The Hulshof’s are still actively running their farm at Bloomington and Kennedy Rds. in Stouffville where Michelle grew up. She has been a local girl all her life, attending first St. Mark’s Catholic School, followed by Stouffville High School. She currently lives in Stouffville and teaches at Hoover Park and the 9th Line. Michelle received her Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies and her Bachelor of Education at Bishops University in Lennoxville, QC, which she attended from 2000 to 2004. Ever the farm girl, she was able to connect with her roots by visiting her Mother’s family during school breaks. On one occasion, Michelle and a friend were being hosted by an octogenarian Grandmother, who welcomed them to her home with the understanding they would not “interfere with her life”!
After graduating from University, Michelle became the Dairy Educator for the York Region Dairy Committee, visiting schools across York Region to talk to children about cows and milk. She took up her first, full time teaching position at St. Bernadette’s Catholic School in Sutton and then taught for four years at St. Mark’s, where she herself had attended elementary school. She was on the first staff at St. Brendan’s in Stouffville and seven years later, is still teaching there.
Michelle’s involvement with the Fair began as a 4H member, when at the age of ten, she took the Grand Championship for her rabbit. She also showed Dairy cows throughout her youth. She joined the Fairboard upon the completion of her studies at University, first serving on and then chairing, committees. The Information Booth, 4-H, and advertising were some of her first endeavours. Michelle treasures her collaboration with Karen Murphy and Kim Empringham, which led to the development of the Agri-Food Tent and the many farm related activities presented there. Utilizing her teaching skills, Michelle was instrumental in incorporating the Education Curriculum into the Fair activities, engaging schools into affordable field trips to see the Fair’s exhibits. Michelle is a tireless ambassador for the Fair. You can often find her out at community events promoting the Fair, along with Faircrow. Although she considers herself a reluctant public speaker, she bravely spoke at the Whitchurch-Stouffville Inauguration of Mayor Altmann in 2014, and is a strong voice in our community for the Fair and agriculture. As an educator, Michelle embraces challenges and looks forward to a quieter period in her life when she fully intends to learn to play the piano.
Michelle’s family are a fixture at the Fair. Mom, Thea barely leaves the kitchen where meals are prepared for the hundreds of volunteers in the days leading up to, during and the clean up after the Fair. Dad, Paul performs all his farm duties and is still amazingly involved and visible during Fair time, chairing the Grains and Small Seeds Committee. Youngest brother, Brad who is a 2nd Vice President and his wife, Lieke, can be found down in the 4-H ring as Leaders of the Markham 4-H Dairy Club. Sister Natalie, although she lives in Ottawa, arranges her work schedule to allow her to fully participate in the Fair, each year. She is on the Directors Lunch Committee, helps in the Milk booth and offers her assistance and expertise wherever it is required. Brother Bryant, a Past President and his wife Lori, Co-Chair of Flowers and Plants, are also present and supportive for the entire Fair. Michelle has two nieces and four nephews, the youngest who was born on Grandma Thea’s birthday, January 16th this year, which was the very day Aunt Michelle became the Markham Fair President! These little ones have experienced the Fair since birth and will, no doubt continue to be a part of its’ future.
As the 2019 President, Michelle intends to implement the refurbishment of the Fair’s aging infrastructure and hopefully attract corporate rentals of the facilities in greater numbers to facilitate that initiative. Her commitment to agriculture is intense. Conversations concerning food safety in Canada as well as clarification of agricultural terms such as Organic, and GMO are something of a mission for Michelle. Her service to the Fair has been passionate and she sees her continued contributions to be no less dedicated.