If you said the carnival rides, you’re missing out on so much, and costing yourself a lot more in entertainment money than you need to spend! As Betty Jo Krosnicki writes for Michigan State University, “...the county fair is more than a carnival, it is a community.”
Let’s start at the beginning, where we find the animals that students have been raising for a year or more.
By raising, we mean:
- Lots of love!
Trust me, you will never see a prettier steer, with a shinier coat than the ones you see at the County Fair. The pigs smell positively flowery, they are bathed so often. The chickens in the cages? They’re probably walked on a leash on a daily basis.
In addition to learning about the animals they take care of so diligently, these young people are learning valuable life skills such as:
- Work Ethic
- Money management
Then, after pouring their heart and soul into these farm animals, the young men and ladies take them to auction, sometimes with tears in their eyes, sometimes with captivating showmanship, and use the money they receive to invest in their own future. That future may be raising their next animal(s) to care for in the following year, often that future is their education and college. Best estimates are that 80-90% of the money raised at the Fair go towards education.
So, the next time you walk through the pens and cages at the County Fair, realize that each animal you’re looking at represents a young person and their future.
Next, let’s consider the exhibits. The exhibits are a treasure trove; an eclectic collection of fascinating history, passions, hobbies, skills and achievements. Recipes that have been passed down for generations are used in the food exhibits; quilts that have been stitched for a year or more are there to see. Photographs that capture fleeting moments of emotion or beauty are on display. Student artwork from all the local schools, some of it outstandingly good, is gathered together for a once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity.
Are you a collector of stamps, coins, toy trains or spoons? There’s something for you to see.
Are you a gardener with a cute little tomato or a gigantic pumpkin you want to show off? Bring it to the fair. Do you love arranging flowers? Are you a sculptor of clay? Do you make the weirdest, most unusual thing-a-ma-jig ever? You can enter it all in the County Fair. If they don’t have a category already set up for your special thing, they’ll create one just for you. And for the inner competitor you harbor, there are ribbons and prizes to win!
As you wander through the exhibits as a spectator, expect a mixture of admiration, a little envy and lots of inspiration. You’ll find yourself taking pictures with your phone of the items you love and want to try for yourself. You’ll share pics on Instagram and Facebook with your friends and followers.
Do you love the rodeo with its man, woman & beast performances? Well, the County Fair brings many types of contests with humans and animals to the grandstand arena for the entire family. Barrel racing patterns, mounted shooting, bronc and bull riding - plenty of events to watch. Ready to get in the arena yourself? No worries, there are greased pig races, a money calf and foot races for all ages.
Ranch rodeo, working ranch horse competition, ranch bronc riding takes place on Thursday. Friday is Family Fun Night, Saturday is the mounted shooting and Jr. NFR bull riding and mutton busting; Sunday is the final Gymkhana of the season, with saddles awarded to the top competitor over from four different competitions.
The Youth Auction: Saturday night at 5 PM.
Entertainment & Food
You want music? It’s at the Fair. You want balloons? Specialty acts? Fun and silly competitions for all members of the family on a grand scale? A petting zoo and farm experience? It’s all at the Fair, and it’s free.
Pirate Parrot Show, Godfrey the Magician, Play with Giants (agricultural STEM-based activities) will also be there for fun and education. On the stage: 5th in the Wheel, Ash Black (classic rock), Doo-Wah Riders and Ned LeDoux, and more.
Of course, not everything is free. Expect to pay extra money for the Carnival rides, some 3rd party activities, food stands and trinket sellers.