HANCOCK - Taste the flavors of Croatia. Mingle with kangaroos. Or, rumble on the Bumble Bee ride truck.
The 58th annual Houghton County Fair has all sorts of new and unique attractions for fairgoers this year.
Making its debut on the midway this year is traveling Australian animal stage show "Aussie Kingdom," featuring kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos, lorikeets and kookaburras. Founder and president Carolyn Lantz gives visitors the opportunity to connect with the animals on a personal level.
"There will be three educational shows daily and the animals will be available for viewing at other times," said Carol Saari, Office Manager of the Houghton County Fair.
Returning for the second year in a row are the Chicago Honey Bear Dancers, who will be performing three shows on Friday and Saturday. The Chicago Honey Bears offer a full production family-oriented variety song and dance show consisting of Broadway, 50s, country, swing, tap, contemporary, jazz and hip hop. Interested youth can attend their workshop at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
The Bob, Jason and Ben Juggling Show is also making a return visit. The trio's unique style of entertainment features a combination of juggling, unicycling, acrobatics, music, inspirational messages, and comedy packed into one.
"Food choices at the fair are greatly expanded with the addition of CroatianVillage, doing barbecued chicken on a spit," Saari said. "We also have traditional favorites, including pizza, pasties, hot dogs, sloppy joes, nachos and ice cream. You can indulge in Greek food, deep fried Oreos and Twinkies, cheesecake on a stick, brats, blooming onions and elephant ears."
The Houghton County Fair kicks off Thursday, Aug. 27, with the Youth Horse Show at 10 a.m., followed by the opening of the T.J. Schmidt & Co. Carnival and Midway at 3 p.m. Thursday evening is the Miss Teen Houghton County Pageant at 6:30, followed by Motocross races in the main event arena at 7. Courtney Clisch will sing at 8:30 p.m. on the indoor stage.
Friday is Senior Citizens' Day. Those 55 and older can enjoy a sack lunch, entertainment and prize drawings in the indoor arena. Livestock shows run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the livestock pavilion. The tractor pull will begin at 6 p.m.
Taking the indoor stage at 7 p.m. Friday is acoustic duo Bret & Frisk, who will be performing variety music from the 60s and 70s, followed by the off-road derby at 8:30 p.m.
Saturday entertainment includes the horse shoe pitching tournament, youth talent show, livestock auction, draft horse pull, singer Tom Katalin, Paul Smith with the Boundary Road Band, and the ever-popular Monster Trucks. Held in the main event arena at 8 p.m., the Monster Truck show features the "Dreamcatcher," "Get 'Er Done," "Heatbreaker," and "Havoc."
The Bumble Bee Monster Truck will be running near the ball fields to give rides.
Sunday events include the open horse show at 9 a.m., musical entertainment provided by the Panhandlers at 1 p.m. on the indoor stage and the Demolition Derby at 2 p.m. in the outdoor arena.
Fair Board President Bonnie Decaire-Jones said she loves the fair because it gives her a chance to catch up with old friends.
"I run into people I don't see all year long at the fair," she said. "It's a great meeting place. You can see wonderful exhibits, and it's the one time of the year that I forget about my cholesterol and eat elephant ears."
The fair board is grateful for the amount of community support they receive through sponsorships and volunteer hours.
"The board members and over 100 other volunteers pull it all together," Saari said. "It's really amazing to see empty fields become a home to a special community for the week of the fair."
The board would like to say a special "thanks" to Dave Wiitanen for his contributions in the remodeling of the fair office and other improvements to the arena.
"Fairgoers will be able to enjoy some great improvements to the building," Saari said.
When asked to sum up putting on the fair in one word, Saari chose "Exhilarating."
"I think all the other fair board members would agree," she said.
Ticket prices are as follows: Adult 4-day pass (16 and over) $15; youth (8-15) $10. Daily gate fees: Thursday, Friday, Sunday $5; Saturday for adults $7; Saturday for youth $5. Under 8 years old admission is free. One-day family pass (two adults and four children) $20.
Pre-fair prices are available.
For more information, call the Houghton County Fair office at 482-6200 or visit www.houghtoncountyfair.com
Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by the Houghton County Fair. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.