The only easy way to see a 578-pound pumpkin this week is to attend “The Most Popular Fair on Earth” as soon as possible.
Anyone who has driven past the grandstand on M‑99 has seen the famous motto of the Hillsdale County Fair, which goes on through Saturday. Students have just a few more days to enjoy the down-home pleasures of this annual event, which includes beholding that massive pumpkin, seeing the reserve grand champion guinea pigs, viewing Hillsdale from the top of a Ferris wheel, and indulging in fair food that you only get once a year.
Organizers expect 190,000 people to attend this year, and you should be among them.
Though our fair is small and humble compared to bigger productions in other states, you can’t beat the price: $5 for adults, and free for kids 12 and younger.
America’s most popular fair, the State Fair of Texas, may draw more than 2 million people and last for more than three weeks, but admission costs $15. The Minnesota State Fair, the second most attended fair in the country, charges $16 for daily admission. Though these two fairs may hold hundreds of rides, food options, shows, and shops, they can’t compete with the economics of Hillsdale’s fair.
Best of all, in Hillsdale you still get a classic fair experience.
Dozens of fair attractions fill the grounds:: there’s a carousel, a ferris wheel, a gravitron, and more, all with colorful lights twinkling all around, perfect for that Instagram picture.
Food carts line the Midway. Powdered sugar funnel cakes, paper cups full of French fries, plastic bags stuffed with blue and pink cotton candy, fried cheese on a stick, straw cups of sodas and ciders, sticky caramel apples, honey mustard-doused corn dogs, and buttery popcorn — the options seem endless. The Donut Hut is a highlight, with its regular flavors plus its delicious bacon maple donut.
Vendors, shops, and animals occupy several buildings and tents. In a massive white barn, you can examine honeycomb, beeswax candles, flavored honey sticks, and different sized jars of flavored honey. Be sure to try the vanilla honey.
The contests are a great attraction as well. See the results of competitions in photography, Lego building, quilt making, tomato production, and even flower growing.
Local vendors in and around the buildings and tents show off their goods, from Checker Records and its coffee to GMC Hillsdale and its Sierra pick-up trucks. At other booths, visitors can meet political candidates and pick up pro-life literature.
Past the shops are the animal barns, with horses, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens, guinea pigs, and even a camel. Some are for sale, some are for show, but almost all are available to pet.
No matter when you go this week, every Hillsdale County Fair attendee gets all that they could ever want out of a fair — good food, stomach-dropping rides, and dozens of booths to explore.
Today is Thursday, which means if you haven’t made it out to the fair yet, you still have time. Tomorrow, there’s a truck and tractor pull, and on Saturday there is an “Off-Road Bump and Run Derby.”
Our fair may be small, and “The Most Popular Fair on Earth” may be hyperbolic, but it’s one of the best events in our area and you have a few more days to see it.