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Midland County Fair introduces new food and health safety measures

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Midland is in for a week of food, farm animals and general entertainment at the Midland County Fair, which begins this weekend at the county fairgrounds.

While the competitions begin on Saturday, the fair officially opens at 12 p.m. on Sunday and runs until Saturday, August 20.

Changes, Additions and Improvements

Midland County Fairgrounds Manager Trish Steele said staff continued to make improvements to the grounds, including the four-season Midland Fair Equestrian Center that opened in July.

The exhibition center has also increased its food offer. In addition to the usual food vendors offering corn dogs, lemonade, fried foods and more, the fair is hosting the famous Smokin Charlies BBQ this year.

We have a lot of diverse food vendors and were excited to add ribs to it, Steele said.

According to Steele, Thursday through Saturday are usually the busiest days. However, trends may change as customers take note of weather, events and other factors. To reduce wait times for purchasing tickets for carnival rides and grandstand events, Steele encouraged people to purchase tickets through the fairs website.

We’ve seen tremendous adoption of digital avenues, Steele said. People know very well how they shop with contactless methods.

According to a 2019 economic impact study that Midland County Fairgrounds conducted with Michigan State Universitys Center for Economic Analysis, the fairgrounds generate a minimum of $3.5 million in new transactional funds each year, including the county fair.

Although there is no admission fee for the fair, patrons pay for parking $5 per day or $20 for the week. This year, however, customers will have to pay for parking from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday in addition to Monday through Saturday. Steele explained that the Sunday parking fee is intended to manage traffic as more people started attending the fair on Sunday.

Sunday is a set-up day at the fair, so it’s always been free, Steele said. But due to the number of people attending on Sunday we require organized parking and this will help us with these costs to ensure a safe and organized fair.

The competitions are heating up

Judging at the fair begins from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 13. Judging continues for the rest of the week and ends at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 19. Competitions range from crafts, performing arts and science projects to displaying small animals and large livestock.

A concern with livestock at the county fair is the presence of bird flu. According to the State of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has currently not detected any new cases of avian flu in domestic birds since May. However, that does not mean the virus has left Michigan.

To combat the spread of viruses, including avian flu, the exhibition center continues to provide hand-washing stations outside the breeding areas, to install MDARD signage on animals in a state of stress and to work with a fair veterinarian to monitor animal health daily. This year, the exhibition center has also taken additional measures to manage the ventilation in the pig area.

If an animal needs to be removed from the field for animal safety and human safety, it can happen, Steele said.

The small animal auction is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17 at Glover Arena. The Big Animal Auction is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 18 at Glover Arena.

The Fair Royalties Contest will take place at 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 13 at Glover Arena.

Steele said that although there are the same number of competition categories, the number of participants has increased this year. This is very encouraging, she said, as organizers have not been able to run the fair as they would like for the past two years due to the pandemic.

We were really excited to see so many young participants returning, Steele said.

Entertainment

The grandstand will host parties from Monday to Saturday. Tickets for each event are $15 per person, $10 for ages 10 and under.

Super Kicker Rodeo will take place at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Bump and Run, a demolition derby, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Figure 8 Derby/Burnout is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday. SJO Super Cross is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday. Auto Cross & Demolition Derby is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Midway Carnival, with rides and games, opens at 5 p.m. Monday, continues from 1 p.m. to close Tuesday through Friday, and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

The fair also offers free daily entertainment. Muxlow Exotics, which offers reptile encounters, will offer three shows a day. The free community stage will also host a selection of local musicians ranging from country to oldies at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the gazebo. The center of the fair will feature line dances at 5 p.m. Wednesday and cloggers at 5 p.m. Friday.

To purchase tickets for the midway carnival and grandstand events, as well as to view full judging and event schedules, visit www.midlandfair.com.

Steele is grateful to the trustees on the fair’s board who dedicate their energy and countless hours to making the fair a success in terms of safety and fun. She explained that the fair takes months to prepare as they pay attention to several details and review safety measures.

We strive to anticipate different scenarios depending on the environment and are working with our local authorities to manage any situation that may arise, Steele said.

This year marks the 84e anniversary of the fair. Steele said she gets a sense of satisfaction watching young people showcase their projects in competitions and families spending time together at the fairgrounds year after year.

For many families, it’s a generational activity, Steele said. For decades they have been creating memories and visiting the fair with great pleasure every August.

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