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Houghton County Fair Submits Year End Report

Attendance at the 2018 Houghton County Fair was down this year after heavy rain kept many people away on the Friday of the 4-day fair, according to the fair’s year end report.

Attendance was estimated to be 19,782, down from 22,886 in 2017, but apart from Friday, the other three days of the fair were above the 5 year average.

Entertainment and contest costs were $48,000.  Mayor entertainment acts were the Monster Truck show for $18,500, the Big Air Tour ATV Jumpers for $8,900, Whispering Pines Mobile Zoo for $4,500, Canines in the Clouds for $7,500, and puppeteer Kevin Kammeraad for $3,000.  Other contests were the Motocross Races, Off Road Derby, and Demolition Derby.

Premiums paid out for agricultural shows and still exhibits amounted to $10,500 to 294 local exhibitors.

Sponsors donated over $6,000, with an additional $2,500 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, administered by the Copper Country Community Arts Council.  Foundations supporting Senior Citizen’s Day included the Portage Health Foundation, Portage Health Auxiliary, and UPPCO.  230 volunteers donated 5,000 hours to the fair, at value estimated at $90,000.

Donations of goods and services included large equipment from Superior Sand and Gravel and Ed’s Used Parts, operated by Mike Thornton and Tim Palosaari, to building the track in the main event arena daily for the Motocross Races, Off Road, Monster Trucks, and the Demolition Derby.  Equipment and operators from Superior Sand and Gravel and the City of Hancock helped get the arena drained after a river formed from the Campus Drive area of Hancock that emptied into the arena during the Father’s Day Flood.

Three land purchases were made for a total cost of $72,122 that included property that has been used but not owned by the Fair Association, from the City of Hancock (a portion of the outdoor event arena and hillside) and the County of Houghton (the lot which has the Exhibit Building on it), with another parcel adjacent to the parking lot and Ingot Street which was affordable due to the generosity of Dave and Lisa Mattila of Superior Sand and Gravel in negotiating the price.

Plans are already underway for the 2019 fair to be held on August 22nd to the 25th. The fair will include Monster Trucks, the Chicago Honey Bear Dancers (with workshops on Friday and Saturday), Whispering Pines Mobile Zoo, a pending animal act, and local musicians, including the Paul Family Bluegrass Band, as well as Skerbeck Enterainment Group returning to provide the carnival and midway.

The Houghton County Fair Board has approved a bylaw change to form a Youth Board of up to seven teenagers from 13 to 18 years old. Those interested in applying for the Youth Board are asked to contact the fair office at 482-6200.

The fair also thanked outgoing board members Bonnie DeCaire-Jones for her 22 years of service…along with Arthur Lampinen, Will Dorman, and Commissioner Tim Palosaari.  The fair will also miss the help and support of Mike Schira, as he has retired from Michigan State University Extension.

Several members of the fair association will be attending the Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitors Convention in Grand Rapids in January, so the next scheduled meeting will be on February 14th at 7:00pm in the SISU Room of the Houghton County Arena.

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