JACKSON, Mich. — The Hillsdale County Fair is back for its 171st year. Everybody is itching to experience the traditional fair experience after a muted 2020, according to Fair Manager Lori Hull.
“Having no fair last year has left a lot of people really hungry to come to the fair and have their time with here with food,” Hull said. “Guests can look forward to a full fair. We are wide open with a midway, livestock, vendors, food anything anybody wants we have here.”
Admission for 13 and older is $5. Parking is $4. Kids under 12 get in for free.
Some of the attractions include Monday nights tough trucking car show where a single vehicle races over bumps and jumps.
Hillsdale resident Rahshell Eskell is with her whole family and is something she’s been doing for the past six years.
“We like to come here and for the kids to have fun,” Eskell said. “It’s nice to catch up with our friends and just get lots of fair food.”
Tuesday night is their demolition derby which Hull says is one of the most popular events.
“On Wednesday, we have the western days ministries rodeo and there will also be barrel racing during that,” Hull said. “That is a free event in the grandstand and one we’re really proud to have a part in. Thursday will be mini rod tractor poles. Friday night is our big NTPA truck and tractor poles. That’s the big ones that everybody loves to come for.
The fair is capped off on Saturday night with a new event called the bump and run derby. “It’s multiple vehicles on the track at the same time racing against each other and seeing who comes out the winner,” Hull said.
Fairgoers will be able to see the birth tent. A set of twin lambs were born Sunday afternoon. Hull said that experience is educational for people.
“Having people understand that agricultural base of this world and where food, it doesn’t come from a bag or a box, it came from someplace that had to be created and made so that birth tent is incredibly popular. We have chicks that are hatching in there and we had a cow.”
And of course, the rides.
Hillsdale resident Lucas Hall was ready to get on all of the rides. His favorite?
“Techno power,” Hall said. “Because it goes fast.”
In 2020, when Hull who is a self described “fair brat” found out they wouldn’t be able to host the fair in a traditional sense, she admits she cried the first day. But, she was able to put on a show anyway through a food drive-thru.
“So people could go to the food vendors and get their food through their cars. And we had a concert. They did a drive-in concert,” Hull said.
When she knew they would be able to go back to business as usual in 2021, she was excited but, “how am I going to get it done in three months?” Hull said.
“We began to really plan hard. I’d laid my staff off. I have a staff of a manager in my office. My office manager was gone, my maintenance person had been laid off and I was without staff for a year. So getting those bodies back that have experience was vital. I was very grateful. I got my office manager back who has been through fair with me. So we got through it, but it was a race to the finish,” Hull said.
The Hillsdale County Fair is expected to draw in “big” crowds daily. Officials estimate about 40,000 people will have come through the gate by the end of the week. The fair runs through Saturday, Oct. 2.
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