Annual Houghton County event adds new electronic ticketing
HANCOCK – The Houghton County Fair kicks off Thursday with new features and old favorites.
For the first time, people can buy tickets online. People can go to houghtoncountyfair.ticketspice.com/admission to buy e-tickets, which can then be shown at the fair entrance.
It’s already proven popular, said Houghton County Fair Board member Kathy Caspary.
“Every day gets a little bit more,” she said. “Yesterday, it saved us from handing paper tickets out to 20 people.”
The cost covers admission to the fair; tickets for carnival rides must be bought separately. That can be done at skerbeck.com.
Each day has a signature event in the main arena. Thursday night’s is motocross, which starts at 7 p.m. Friday night, there’s the off-road derby at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s always a big hit – literally,” Caspary said.
Saturday night, people get treated to the monster truck show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. The course offers plenty of opportunities for the huge trucks to catch air.
“All kids love it,” Caspary said.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, people can watch cars do battle in the demolition derby.
Other events in the main arena include a draft horse pull at 2 p.m., with antique tractor demonstrations held before and after.
The horse arena has its own fun, including the horse jumping show at 5 p.m. Friday. At 10 a.m. Sunday, there’s also the cowboy challenge, where riders and their horses navigate obstacles.
Livestock shows also return. Beef shows and horse shows will take place at new times – 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., Thursday, respectively, in the livestock pavilion. Swine and dairy shows will take place Friday.
In the livestock barn 5:30 p.m. Friday, local children will auction off the animals they’ve been raising at the Jr. Market Livestock Auction.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Caspary said. “It shows how ambitious our youth can be.”
From noon to 4 p.m. Friday is the senior citizens program, where anyone 55 and up can get a free lunch.
There will be plenty of entertainment also at the midway and inside the Houghton County Arena.
Acts include the Marvelous Mutts, who do a variety of tricks, and the Whispering Pines mobile Zoo, which has an assortment of exotic animals for people to pet and feed.
New for this year include the improv group Comedy Sportz, which will perform 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday inside the Houghton County Arena.
Fair board members find new acts each year at the state‚Äôs fair association convention each January in Grand Rapids.
“At meetings, we go over suggestions and see, ‘Maybe the people will like this this year,'” Caspary said. “And so far we’ve been doing OK.”
Entries in the fair are also on pace with previous years, Caspary said.
“I know the people in the big exhibit barn have been busy putting exhibits up, and the barn is filling up,” she said.
The exhibit building also has a new floor this year thanks to a capital improvement grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“The floor is nice and even to walk on, and clean,” Caspary said.
And thanks to an anonymous donor, the swine barn – affectionately called “the pig palace” by fairgoers – also got additional stalls.
“We have wonderful people in our area that help us put this fair on every year,” Caspary said.
Those include 200 volunteers that help pull the fair together, and other donors who help keep fair prices low, Caspary said.
A four-day ticket for adults costs only $20 ahead of time, and $25 once the fair starts.
“That’s the only charge there is,” she said. “You can see everything for that amount. And I know it’s hard to be entertained for $25.”
Daily passes are $5 for kids. For adults, they’re $7, aside from Saturday, which is $10 because of the monster trucks.
Caspary anticipates another strong attendance year for the fair.
“This is it,” she said. “This is the end-of-the-summer activity. Thank goodness we have a lot of people and a lot of fun. Everybody gets along.”