This year’s Hillsdale County Fair will have a concert for the first time in three years and also feature a new competition: KOI Drag Racing.
From Sept. 22 — 28, Fair Manager Lori Hull said she anticipates 75,000 — 100,000 people will make their way through more than 200 vendors at the 169th annual county fair.
“On Sunday, the first day of the fair, we are having KOI drag racing, which is something new,” Hull said. “And that’s just general public, anybody interested in bringing their vehicle in, anything from ATVs up to semis can drag race. That’s the competition on Sunday.”
Hull said the only other change in the schedule will be a concert by the band, Hotel California A Salute to the Eagles, on Saturday.
“We’re very excited to have music on the fairgrounds again,” Hull said.
The fairgrounds also feature a new barn for draft horses and mules. Hull said the old barn was torn down and has been replaced with a new 175 feet by 60 feet building.
“It was a tough decision for the board because any historic building or older building sticks in the hearts of a lot of people,” Hull said. “But for us, the amount of money it would’ve taken to repair it, we still would have had an old building that had been repaired. With this we have a brand new building, it’s freestanding, there’s no poles in there to work around, so it makes it a much more usable building.”
Donut Hut manager and fair board member Walt Zinzer said he’s looking forward to another busy week at this year’s fair.
“We run close to 45,000 doughnuts in that one week,” Zinzer said. “I have 55 bags of vanilla, 17 pumpkin, and 14 apple. They’re all 50 pound bags. And I bet there’s 40 pails of frosting, and they’re 24 pound pails.”
Zinzer has ran the Donut Hut since 2010 and relies on volunteers to keep up with all of the orders. Proceeds earned from the Donut Hut’s sales go toward renovations for buildings on the fairgrounds.
The theme for this year’s fair is: “Planting Seeds for Our Future.” Hull said the theme ties into the fair’s education building. Vendors in the education building are judged on their ability to tie their booth into the theme.
In addition to the education building, Hull said one of the most popular attractions is the live birth tent, where attendees have the opportunity to see eggs hatch and sheep or cattle being born.
Hull said she first got involved with the fair through 4‑H and was a member of the board before becoming the manager. For Hull, fair week has always been a reunion for the community.
“The world stops for a week in September here in Hillsdale, and it’s an opportunity where you’re guaranteed to see people you very likely haven’t seen since last year’s fair,” Hull said. “That whole reunion-feel is special. It’s pretty important to the county, and I love being a part of it. I’m proud to be a part of it.”