HANCOCK - With its sky-high freestyle motocross action and demolition derby to the Kenya Safari Acrobats and teen pageant, the 59th annual Houghton County Fair offers local and traditional entertainment coupled with international and extreme flair.
Held Aug. 26 through 29, at the Houghton County Fairgrounds on Birch Street in Hancock, the fair gets under way with the 3 p.m. opening of TJ Schmidt and Co. amusements.
Greeting fairgoers near the entrance gate will be this year's exotic attraction, the Whispering Pines Animal Kingdom. Species of animals from around the world, including a white tiger, zebra, Sulcata tortoise and two-toed sloth, will be available for viewing all weekend. The Kenya Safari Acrobats will kick off the first of their 12 planned shows at 5 p.m Thursday. The performances will alternate between the midway and indoor stage, offering a unique cultural experience packed with extreme acrobatic strength and skill.
"When planning our entertainment we really lean towards family-oriented shows," said Houghton County Fair Association President Rick Freeman. "And, we like to change it up from year to year."
Performing four shows and roving entertainment Friday, Saturday and Sunday is award-winning entertainer Brandon Styles. Famous for his singing impersonations, comedy and magic shows, Styles brings it all.
Scott Murray and his Sick Air FMX team are returning to the outdoor main event arena for an 8 p.m. Saturday show. Famous for landing the first double back flip in motocross, Murray's extreme motorcycle jumping packs a punch for spectators of all ages.
"This year he's bringing a new landing ramp he built to land his backflip," said Houghton County Fair Office Manager Carol Saari.
Also returning is the fire-breathing robotic dinosaur MEGASAURUS, which will accompany Saturday's Sick Air Show and Demolition Derby Sunday in the main event arena.
The Miss Teen Pageant, Senior Citizen's Day festivities, Motocross Racing, Kivijat Folk Dancers, local music, plus the farm tractor pull, off-road racing, horse pull and horseshoe tournament round out the entertainment.
Several horse shows during the fair are a popular draw and take place at the horse arena, located near the animal and poultry barns at the north end of the fairgrounds. Scheduling changes to note this year are: speed event for the open horse show begins at 5 p.m. Thursday; while the horse jumping event is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday. The youth horse show will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, and the draft horse show will be incorporated into the open horse show, scheduled for 9 a.m. Sunday.
The livestock shows, getting under way at 9 a.m. Friday, feature swine, beef, dairy, sheep and goat; while the livestock auction is set for 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Held in the livestock pavilion, there will be beef steers, lambs, and hogs that will be auctioned, along with a Houghton-Keweenaw 4-H Endowment fundraising basket filled with homemade items.
The green exhibit building near the entrance gate will showcase handmade items, crafts antiques, photography, vegetables and field crops, along with the 4-H booths.
"Kid's Fun Day at noon on Saturday is popular with a variety of fun activities for toddlers through young teens," according to Saari, and is also held in the exhibit building.
Forty or so vendors will be located on the midway and inside of the ice arena.
Food available will range from hot dogs, sloppy joes and pasties to Greek food, Croatian chicken, a corn roast and all types of deep-fried favorites.
Putting on an event like the Houghton County Fair isn't an easy task, Saari said, however the many volunteers who pitch in throughout the year and during the fair help make it happen.
"Last year we had 235 volunteers put in about 3,750 hours to plan and work during the fair," she said. "It's a lot of behind-the-scenes work that you don't ever see."
Freeman agreed, adding "the fair would not go on without their help.
"It's just remarkable," he said. "The Board appreciates the very supportive community that we have."
Fair passes can be purchased at Northwood's Sporting Goods, Superior National Bank locations, and the Fair Office. Pre-fair prices include: 4-day adult pass $15; 4-day child $8. For additional ticket information, or a complete fair schedule, visit the website at houghtoncountyfair.com or call 482-6200.
Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by the Houghton County Fair Association. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.