August 10, 2021 | By: Nick Buckley | Battle Creek Enquirer – The Calhoun County Fair is billed as Michigan’s longest-running county fair. First held in 1839, the event ran annually from 1848 until 2020, when the pandemic postponed the 172nd iteration. Now, the tradition gets back on track as festivities return to Calhoun County Fairgrounds in Marshall beginning Saturday. Following the year off, Interim Fair Manager Cathy Combs expects “a record number for crowds.” An estimated 90,000 attended the fair in 2019. “Our carnival, our police force, everybody is stating to expect record crowds,” Combs said. “We’re going to meet that (90,000) and exceed it.”
The event comes as COVID-19 cases have been tied to several large outdoor events in Michigan, including a fair in Ionia County, a motorcycle event in Muskegon and the Faster Horses music festival in Brooklyn, Michigan. Last week, Calhoun County was upgraded to substantial COVID-19 community spread by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends masking in public indoor spaces.
Combs said the Calhoun County Agricultural and Industrial Society is working with the county health department to stay up to date on public safety measures. “We have hand sanitizers in every barn throughout the grounds,” Combs said. “(There are) masks at the gate if any individual needs one. It’s not mandated. We are following protocol.”
Here’s what to know about the return of the Calhoun County Fair.
2021 Calhoun County Fair
• Where: 720 Fair St., Marshall
• When: Saturday, Aug. 14 to Saturday, Aug. 21
• Admission: First day – free; Week pass – $30; Leader pass – $20; Day pass – $7; Week parking – $20; Day parking – $7; Kids 10-and-under – free.
• Heroes Day (Monday, Aug. 16): All active-duty military, veterans and emergency service personnel receive free gate entry.
Fair week kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday with youth non-livestock projects in photography, crafts and baking showcased and judged in the covered arena. The projects will be on display all week in the Floral Hall and the Boys and Girls Building.
All livestock will be on the fairgrounds beginning Sunday to kick off show week with educational exhibits. The small animal auction will be held Aug. 19 at 5:30 p.m., and the large animal auction will be held Aug. 20 at 11 a.m., both in the covered arena. The general market project auction will be held Aug. 21 at 3 p.m. in the FireKeepers Casino Hotel community tent.
Some staples of the Calhoun County Fair return on opening day at the grandstand, where admission is free for antique tractor pulls and draft horse pulls. Other free events include a drive-in hitch show on Sunday, an open horse pony show on Monday, and horse pulls to wrap up the week on Aug. 21.
Weeknight grandstand events include lawn mower races (Sunday), the Lost Nations Rodeo (Monday), KOI Drag Racing (Tuesday), truck pulls (Wednesday), a combine derby (Thursday), big-equipment car soccer (Friday) and a demolition derby and fireworks (Saturday). Admission ranges from $5 to $15.
Carnival, vendors and music
The midway by TJ Schmidt & Company includes rides for all ages, games and food vendors selling carnival favorites like elephant ears, corn dogs, frozen lemonade and cotton candy.
Live music, dancing and comedy performances will be hosted in the FireKeepers Casino Hotel community tent, where there will also be daily pig races.
For more information, visit calhouncountyfairgrounds.com or call 269-781-8161.