CARO — About 15,000 are expected to attend the 135th Tuscola County Fair – and they’ll be part of several new attractions for the event, including a car show.
The fair will open Sunday, July 24 and conclude Saturday, July 30 at the fairgrounds, 188 Park Drive in Caro, for attendees to experience new rides, shows and offers this weekend.
Tuscola County Fair Board– Treasurer Jackie Garner said the estimated 15,000 attendees include youth registered in the 4-H show.
“Honestly, our fair is pretty much the same size,” said Garner.
“Historically, we’re up there pretty high,” said Garner. “One hundred thirty five (years) is going pretty good. We have a fairly old county and we’ve never had a break.”
This year, the fair will kick off at 10 a.m. Sunday with its first ever 1966 car show, featuring cars from 50 years ago and members of the Caro High School class of the same year.
At 1 p.m. the festivities continue with the first of the grandstand programs, The Calvary Quartet, at 2 p.m a free ice cream social, at 3 p.m. Ben MacArthur & Friends of Vassar, the 4-H talent show and royalty contest take place soon after.
Garner said the royalty court hasn’t been a part of the fair for at least five years. A queen, prince and princess will be crowned and will be a part of parades throughout the season, she added.
Admission to the fair is $11 for entry at the gate for unlimited rides, parking and the grandstand. Tuesday will feature the truck and tractor pull. Wednesday and Thursday the fair will hold the super kicker championship rodeo, Friday will bring in the Mud Drag Thumb Area Mud runners and Saturday will finish with an auto scramble. A week-long event will include a hands-on milk maker display at the Community Crops and Crafts building that TEACHES about dairy cows.
Fair board president Neil Jackson said Tuscola’s fair might be the nicest in the state and was feeling positive about some of the new attractions.
“We’ve tried some new things and they came out very positive so we’re excited about this year,” he said.
One of those new things are six new rides from Standish-based TJ Schmidt & Co. that will open Tuesday for Kids’ Day, offering entry at a discount of $9 for children 14-years-old and younger a and a free T-shirt. Another add-on isn’t a ride, but there will be a new shuttle running at the fair taking attendees from southern end parking lot to the grandstand area and back.
But most of the grandstand events have remained the same. Garner said it’s hard to find new events that will continue to do well. Music events don’t draw enough of a crowd, she said, but the current grandstand events have been successful.
Local resident Harold Woudstra, 70, said the fair brings individuals into town and gives them something to do for a few days out of the summer.
Woudstra has been to the fair in the past but isn’t sure if he would like to go this year. He would like to see better attractions that would suit senior citizens.
“For senior citizens, there should be something else,” he said. “There’s probably senior citizens who feel the same.”
Woudstra said he liked some events such as the tractor pull and 4-H exhibits but didn’t like paying $11 for rides and entry if he is not going to get on the roller coaster.
“Why pay for rides if I’m not going to ride them,” he asked.
He also felt the fair has decreased in numbers since he could remember in the 1970s.
But during the fair, some businesses benefit from the influx of people.
Louise Hodges, manager at Pizza Hut, said on Kids’ Day and during events like the tractor pull the restaurant gets very busy. She estimated sales tend to go up 10 percent and if needed, Pizza Hut has stayed open later to serve fair attendees.
But five or six years ago she believes, unlike the fair board members think, the numbers seem to have dwindleD from when she was younger.
“People aren’t focusing on county fairs as they used to. It’s important for the 4-H (kids) who raise the chickens and sheep,” Hodges said.
Jackson said with consistent numbers for 15 years, he isn’t sure if it is “comparing apples to apples.”
Garner said hot weather or certain events can affect attendance to grow or shrink.
But Jackson feels hard work is what makes the fair successful.
“This is 100 percent volunteer put on,” he said, “And a lot of people put work into this every year.”
The Tuscola Count Fair website can be found at http://www.tuscolacountyfair.org/
Debanina Seaton is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org