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As fair readies to open, planning has already begun for next year’s weekend

Image provided by the Houghton County Fair Board— Last year almost 20,000 people are estimated to have attended the Houghton County Fair and this year is expected to be even bigger.

Some things about the fair seem to be the same every year – that is their charm. However, no one wants to go to the exact same fair every year. That is why the Houghton County Fair Board starts planning one the next year’s fair before the current fair has even started.

“We actually started planning before last year’s fair,” said board member Carol Saari. “One of the first things we do is get the contract with our carnival.”

Saari is one of the 15 board members. There are also 50 superintendents that handle different fair departments. They do things like coordinate individual events. Then, during the actual fair, there are things like concessions, security, and other jobs that need to be done. It’s a big job.

“Last year we estimated 19,792 people,” said Saari. “From all indications, we expect more this year.”

You might even see fair board members at the fair talking about what they want to do and who they want to see the following year.

“At the fair, we pass out registration forms to vendors for the next year,” said Saari. “We sold out indoor and outdoor booth spaces earlier than ever.”

Every fair is a learning experience, but there are formal learning experiences as well. Board members commonly attend other area fairs and attend an annual fair convention that takes place in Grand Rapids each January. After that is when planning really kicks off, usually beginning with the entertainment.

This year’s fair features one act that has never performed at the Houghton County Fair before, as well as The Chicago Honey Bear Dancers, an act that performed on the indoor stage a number of years ago. Of course, these acts will be joining a number of fair regulars. That contribute to the traditional feeling that makes the fair special to many.

New events include one new Top Gun themed carnival ride, and a Grizzly Bear animal exhibit.

Not all of the improvements have to do with entertainment. The fair board also incorporates changes that make the fair safer and more manageable. Last year, the fair board instituted smoking areas in an attempt to concentrate litter, reduce congestion in certain areas, and make the fair more enjoyable to non-smokers. There have also been no-smoking areas as a safety concern, like around the animal pens where hazards like hay create a heightened fire hazard when cigarettes and lighters are introduced.

This year, adults can also get special wristbands for children that have the parents’ phone number. This will make it easier for fair board members and security to locate the parents of lost children. Interested parties can ask for the bands when they buy their tickets.

This Year’s Houghton County Fair runs from August 22 to August 25 and will take place at the Houghton County Fair Grounds on 1500 Birch St. In Hancock. Adult (16 and up) general admission tickets are $7 for a day or $23 for a four-day pass. Youth (7-15) tickets are $5 for a day or $16 for a four-day pass. Children under 7 get in free. The family pass has been discontinued.

Carnival wristbands are $22 Thursday from 3 p.m. to close, $25 Friday and Saturday from noon to close, and $20 Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

For more information, find the Houghton County Fair on Facebook, visit houghtoncountyfair.com, email info@houghtoncountyfair.com or call (906)482-6200.

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