HANCOCK - Monster trucks, Mind Trekkers, midway amusements and more. It's Houghton County Fair time once again and this year organizers pulled out all the stops.
The 61st annual county fair, held Aug. 23 through 26 at the fairgrounds in Hancock, brings traditional favorites and new attractions for kids young and old.
Kicking off the four-day-long festivities is the opening of the carnival at 3 p.m. Thursday. T.J. Schmidt & Company will have an array of amusement rides and food booths along the midway for thrill seekers.
AshLynn Monette with her steer “Wheezy.”
Carnival ride specials include the mega pass ($50 - good Thursday through Sunday on all rides), Family Night Thursday ($1 rides from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.), Friday and Saturday ($20 - ride from noon to 10 p.m.) and Sunday ($15 - ride from noon to 5 p.m.).
This year's theme is "Color Our World" and fairgoers will find members of Anything Goes 4-H Club along with their vibrantly colored tie-dyed T-shirts on display at their booth.
Always a hit is the Junior Market Livestock Auction.
Held at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the livestock pavilion, the auction is being conducted by B. Patient Auctioning Service of Ishpeming, and this year features five market steers, eight hogs and 13 lambs.
Chassell High School senior AshLynn Monette is returning with her second steer project - a Simmental-Red Angus-Limousine cross-breed named "Wheezy."
"A market beef steer is a nine- to 10-month project usually starting in November the year prior to the fair," said Carol Saari, Houghton County Fair office manager. "She encourages any Houghton-Keweenaw county youth with an interest in raising a market animal to give it a try."
At the beginning of Monette's project, Wheezy weighed in at 660 pounds.
"I estimate Wheezy's weight at about 1,250 by fair time," Monette said. "He should finish a choice-grade steer or better. Look for us in the livestock building at the fair."
Saari said the livestock project allows youth - ages 7 to 19 - to experience the marketing process and see the results of their efforts. They have the opportunity to select their market animals early in the year, care for them, show them and finally sell them at the auction.
"Traditionally, youth exhibitors have often used their profits for future college expenses," she said.
After the fair, the livestock committee arranges for the livestock animals to be transported to Rainbow Packing in Escanaba, and also makes arrangements for the processed meat to be delivered to the respective stores or returned to Hancock for pickup by the buyers.
Admission to the fair includes all entertainment, excluding rides, and this year there are some new attractions - Barnyard Express and Wild World of Animals - that will be on hand throughout the weekend.
The Wild World of Animals features Grant Kemmerer along with his variety of exotic animals. Recognized as one of the "best shows in wildlife entertainment," Kemmerer delivers non-stop laughter while the audience learns fascinating animal facts.
Barnyard Express is a mobile educational farm center featuring a miniature horse, calf, sheep, goat, pig and of course, Farmer John Forshee's dog "Smudge." Both animal acts will be featuring three shows daily.
Returning for another season is the Cirque de U.P. unicycling and juggling act.
Michigan Technological University's Mind Trekkers will explore the mysteries of science during its program from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in the ballfield.
Let's not forget the mud-flinging monster trucks, motocross races, off-road derby and the demolition derby that will be tearing up the outdoor main event arena.
This year's Midwest Monster Truck event, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, will feature the Avenger, High Maintenance, Brutus and Mechanical Mischief.
Eleven candidates will take the stage for the Miss Houghton County Fair Pageant at 6:30 p.m. Thursday while the Youth Talent Show will be held at a new time - 1 p.m. Sunday. Make-and-Take Crafts by the Houghton-Keweenaw 4-H will be held Thursday and Friday, while Kid's Fun Day activities are set for 3 p.m. Saturday in the arena.
Fairgoers 55 and above can enjoy a bag lunch with their admission to the fair on Senior Citizen's Day Friday. Held inside the arena, entertainment includes live music performed by country western group the Rolling Thunder Band. There will be a variety of entertainment and music on the indoor stage throughout the fair. A variety of livestock and equine shows are slated over the weekend.
Admission passes can be purchased in advance at the Houghton County Fair office, Northwood's Sporting Goods or Superior National Bank branches.
Advance 4-day adult passes (ages 16 and above) are $15 and $8 for children (ages 7 to 15). Four-day passes at the gate are $20 for adults and $10 for children. Daily gate fees are $7 for adults and $5 for children. Six and under are free. Family passes (two adults and four children under 16) are $20.
For more information about admission prices and event times, visit houghtoncountyfair.com or call the fair office at 482-6200.
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.