HANCOCK - Aside from several short cloudbursts with thunder and warmer-than-average conditions Sunday afternoon, beautiful weather set the backdrop for a successful Houghton County Fair packed with four days of entertainment.
"The weather has been fantastic. Those who came out really were treated to great weather and a lot of activities," said Carol Freeman, co-superintendent of adult-open exhibitions. "People were having fun."
According to Jack Dunstan, Houghton County Fair board president, early attendance estimates point to a slight increase from 2012 - and volunteers certainly turned out to help.
Stephen Anderson/Daily Mining Gazette
Fairgoers pack the midway of the Houghton County Fair Saturday prior to the monster truck show. Sunshine and temperatures in the 80s resulted in the best attendance numbers in recent years, according to fair officials.
"Attendance was overall, for the four days, up from last year. It went really well I think," he said. "... What always makes the fair is volunteers, 200-plus make it go on. It's just amazing how many people help out, and all the sponsors."
Several large shows entertained spectators in the main event arena throughout the weekend, like motocross, monster trucks and a demolition derby. The third year of Ward's Local Logging Competition was a hit, too, with David Anderson winning top prize in competition against 19 other competitors, including his father, Marvin.
The indoor stage featured several events and performers, as well, including a 9 p.m. Saturday show by hypnotist Kerry Sharp that packed Houghton County Arena.
"We tried something new with the hypnotist, and people really seemed to like it," said Steve Palosaari, fair board member.
New entertainment piqued curiosity, but in many cases it was the classics that kept people coming back. T.J. Schmidt and Company Amusements kept a wide variety of traditional rides running throughout the four days, and animal barns, exhibit halls and vendors provided plenty for people to see, but, according to Palosaari, and several attendees, it's the food that makes the fair.
"I'm always surprised at how many people tell me they come to the fair, mainly for the food," Palosaari said.
"I love to come and eat," said Jackie Russ, who attended the fair for the second year with military husband Kip and 8-year-old daughter, Taylore, who moved from South Carolina in 2012. "Unlike the South Carolina fair, this one is a lot cooler. It's a smaller one, but it's fine, I like that. There's not too many crowds, you don't have to wait too long to get your stuff, so it's a lot better.
"It's just very hometown-y, you see everybody you know. It's very nice. ... You tend to run into everybody in town because everybody is here."
Lainee Post, 14, from Iron Mountain, made her first visit to the HCF Saturday with several friends, including 15-year-old Baraga resident Jake Belkola, noting, "The Houghton fair is way better than our fair" in Dickinson County. Her favorite ride? The ferris wheel. Her favorite food? Everything.
Elephant ears, cotton candy, Greek food, barbecue - it was all there to tempt taste buds, fill stomachs and empty bulging wallets that by the end of the weekend weren't so bulging.
And with that, another year of the Houghton County Fair is in the books.
Results from various events will be published at a later date in The Daily Mining Gazette and at houghtoncountyfair.com.