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Com­munity members walking by the grand­stand at the Hillsdale County Fair­ground.
Alex Nester | Col­legian

With attrac­tions ranging from a baby animal birthing tent to a pho­tog­raphy house and drag racing, more than 100,000 people are expected to flock to the 169th-annual Hillsdale County Fair which began Sept. 22. 

The fair runs until Sat­urday, Sept. 28, and will con­clude with a concert by the band Hotel Cal­i­fornia A Salute to the Eagles.  

This year’s fair boasts old classic events, like guessing the weight of the giant pumpkin, pho­tog­raphy con­tests, craft and antique tents, tractor pulls, live­stock and farm animals showings, car­nival rides, and treats like corn dogs and deep-fried butter. 

“I’ve come to the fair my whole life,” fair attendee Rebecca Bauerly said. “It’s pretty much the same since I was younger, just the rides have changed.” 

Bauerly said she goes to the fair every year with her husband, their children, and friends. 

Fair Manager Lori Hull said the birthing tent is one of the most popular attrac­tions at the fair, and on Monday night a crowd gathered to watch a ewe give birth. 

She said dollar-ride-day and tractor pull on Thursday is expected to attract bigger crowds, as well as the concert on Sat­urday. This year, the fair added a new event, the KOI Drag Race, which helped open the fair week on Sunday evening. 

Hull said the live­stock numbers in the hun­dreds, with at least 100 head of cattle and 100 head of sheep, in addition to the mul­titude of horses, rabbits, chickens, and other animals. 

“We have the whole gamut,” Hull said.

The fair raises money largely to keep up with the main­te­nance of buildings on the fair­grounds, like the Flower Hall, the grand­stands, and the 149-year-old Grange Hall.

Shelly Wirick, a member of the fair board of directors, is the fourth gen­er­ation of her family to work in Grange Hall.

“My great-grand­father started in 1945 as the super­in­tendent of this building. Then my grand­father, and now my father is cur­rently the super­in­tendent of the building,” Wirick said. “My favorite part of the fair is this building. It’s where I live.” 

Wirick recalled her childhood mem­ories of running across the fair­grounds from one grand­father, who worked at Grange Hall, to her other grand­father, who sold imple­ments down near the grand­stands, for money to go on the fair rides. 

“I got to see every­thing because I was going from grand­father to grand­father col­lecting money. It was kind of fun — that was my best memory of the fair.” 

Now, Wirick’s own grand­children attend the fair and plead with her for money for the fair rides. 

“I am waiting for the other set of grand­children to show up and ask for money for their ride tickets right now,” Wirick said. 

Hull said most of the money raised from the fair — mainly from ticket sales, but also from vendor fees — goes toward main­taining over 20 buildings on the fair­ground. 

“They take a lot of money to upkeep,” Wirick said. 

Hull works full time, year-round to pull the yearly event together. This is her second year as fair manager, though she served on the fair board for 10 years prior. 

“We always come with our family and friends,” Bauerly said. “It’s neat to see people out and about in the com­munity, seeing everybody having fun.”