Osceola County Fair kicks off July 26
EVART — The Osceola County 4-H FFA Fair is quickly approaching, and this year's event is expected to offer enjoyable activities for families with all interests.
From Sunday, July 26, through Saturday, Aug. 1, youth of all ages will fill the barns with exhibits and animals ready for showing. The fair brings in hundreds of youth and thousands of spectators thanks to its free parking and no entrance fee.
Attendance and participation increased last year, with 4-H membership reaching 474 individuals — an increase of almost 50 youth. Three new clubs also joined the ranks in 2014. Although there are no new clubs this year, Osceola County 4-H Coordinator Jake Stieg said the numbers of participants are rising for specific events.
"We have the same numbers for swine this year, but our goat program has about 46 kids, which is double from last year," Stieg said. "Our poultry numbers also are up."
For the 4-H'ers who usually bring chicken or turkey to the fair, showmanship and market competitions will be different from year's past.
In June, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development released a statement cancelling all poultry shows and exhibitions held in Michigan as a precaution against avian influenza. Instead of bringing their live bird to the fairgrounds, children and teens will use model birds for showmanship and at the auction, and photographs of their birds in the barns.
Stieg said the change is an education experience for the 4-H'ers, 4-H officials and community members wandering through the barns, adding the children and teens who show birds have an additional option to enhance their fair experience.
"The youth also have an opportunity to make their own model with supplies given by the 4-H office," he added. "We'll be handing out awards for that, too."
Poultry is sold at the small-animal auction at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. Buyers who purchase chickens or turkey will be able to take the processed bird home that night and the bill of sale will show the processed weight.
After a day devoted to setup, this year’s fair will begin on Monday with youth and open poultry and rabbit judging at 9 a.m., a pedal pull at 4 p.m. and the garden tractor pull at 7 p.m. at the grandstand. Admission into all grandstand events is $5, and children under 12 are free of charge.
Tuesday will feature goat judging and youth trail class and western riding at 9 a.m., beef and dairy beef judging at 3 p.m. and a heavyweight horse pull at 7 p.m. in the grandstand. Family Fun Tyme Amusements also will open all rides for $1 all day starting at 3 p.m.
The fun continues on Wednesday with swine judging at 9 a.m., the Farm Bureau Chicken Barbecue at noon, youth and open class sheep judging at 3 p.m. and the antique tractor pull at 7 p.m. Amusement rides are free from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and armbands will be sold after 1 p.m.
Thursday will offer youth dairy and horse English class judging at 9 a.m., llama and alpaca judging at 3 p.m. and a truck pull at 7 p.m. The small-animal auction will begin at 6:30 p.m. Amusement ride armbands will be $5 off for those who bring in a canned food item to the fair office.
"When raising and showing livestock 4-H teaches both life skills and skills in animal science, entrepreneurship and finance," Steig added.
Friday features horse and pony judging at 8 a.m. and live music by Midnight Special at 7 p.m. at the grandstand. The market livestock auction will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, the last day of the fair, attendees can enjoy a fun horse show at 9 a.m., a goat fun show at 1 a.m. and a costume class competition at 1 p.m. Sweepstakes Showmanship will begin at 2 p.m. and following the event, the Bad Toads 4-H Shooting Club will give a demonstration of shooting sports. A farm stock tractor pull will take place at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Agricultural Olympics, one of the favorite 4-H events, will take place at 6 p.m.
Stieg encourages all community members who attend the fair to head over to the east side of the fairgrounds and check out the 4-H program.
"If you want to have a good time, come over and see all the animals," he said. "There's also a lot of still exhibits the kids work on, such as arts and crafts and baking. Anyone can participate in 4-H."
For a complete fair schedule and more, visit osceolacountyfairgrounds.com.