Oceana County was organized in 1855, it was named after its long shoreline on lake Michigan. The first known white settlement was a saw mill site built in 1849 at the mouth of Whiskey Creek. The county grew during the lumber era, with the development of Pentwater, Shelby, and Hart, the county seat. When the lumber boom came to a halt, farmers found the area an excellent place for orchards.
Today, farming in Oceana County is very prosperous, holding the second largest fruit tree acreage in the state. Oceana County is famous as the "Asparagus Capital of the World" for its high production of asparagus. The annual National Asparagus Festival includes a parade and crowning of the Asparagus Queen. This is a source of great pride for those who are so crowned.
Tourism plays a vital part along the county's coastline. Pentwater is a major summer resort, as is the Little Sable Point area, with Silver Lake and the sand dunes, one of the few places in the nation offering first class dune scooter rides to view the pristine sandy coastline along the Big Lake.
Inland, many recreational spots abound in the Manistee National Forest, which dots the county. There are also great canoeing and fishing along the White River beginning at Hesperia. For sightseeing, fruit picking, or just plain outdoor fun, Oceana County is where you want to be!
Oceana County Geography
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,307 square miles (3,384 km²), of which, 540 square miles (1,400 km²) of it is land and 766 square miles (1,985 km²) of it (58.64%) is water.
2015 Census Results
As of the census of 2015, there were 26,229 people, 9,822 households, and 7,265 families residing in the county. The population density was 51 people per square mile (19/km²). There were 15,009 housing units at an average density of 28 per square mile (11/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 82.6% White, 1.2% Black or African American, .6% Native American, 0.3% Asian, and 1% from two or more races. 14% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 89.1% spoke only English, while 11.8% only speaks Spanish at home. In 2015, Oceana County had the highest percentage of Latinos of any county in Michigan. Latinos continued to grow in numbers, now constituting 14.2% of the population.
In 2015 there were 9,822 households out of which 72% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 80% were married couples living together, and 41% were single men or women. The average family size was 3.1.
In the county the population was spread out with 23% under the age of 18, and 58% who were 18 to 65 years of age. The median age was 42.3 years. In Oceana County 51% of the population is men, and 49% is female.
The median income for a household in the county was $41,617,and the per capita income for the county was $20,234. About 20.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32% of those under age 18 and 8% of those age 65 or over. The average female salary for Oceana County is $35,774, and the average male salary for Oceana County is $47,182.
The county government operates the jail, maintains rural roads, operates the major local courts, keeps files of deeds and mortgages, maintains vital records, administers public health regulations, and participates with the state in the provision of welfare and other social services. The county board of commissioners controls the budget but has only limited authority to make laws or ordinances. In Michigan, most local government functions--police and fire, building and zoning, tax assessment, street maintenance, etc.--are the responsibility of individual cities and townships.
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