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.”