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Growing up, I would go and stay with my grandparents in Lowell for a week every summer. That week would always correspond with the Kent County Youth Fair which kicks off its 76th year on Sunday with a "Green and Growing" theme. Some of my fondest memories are riding into downtown Lowell with my grandfather in his GMC pick-up to visit the fair. Seeing all of the farm animals, having an elephant ear, the midway, and checking out all of the 4-H exhibits.
I still remember the excitement buying a Jose Conseco rookie card at the fair. Obviously this was years before a home run ball bounced off his head, steroids, and the Surreal Life.
I know I'm not alone. Going to the fair is a big part of growing up in Michigan for a lot of people. Thousands of kids participate in 4-H programs and show horses and livestock. It can be a fun time for the whole family to go for the midway, tractor pulls, demolition derbys, and concerts.
The Northwestern Michigan Fair also starts today just south of Traverse City. I still have the song they played on the radio in the Traverse City area to adertise the fair still stuck in my head a dozen years later: "goin' to da fair, goin' to da fair, goin' to da Northwest Michigan Fair."
Michigan is also home to "The Most Popular Fair on Earth," the Hillsdale County Fair, which will celebrate its 160th year in late-September.
Unfortunately the outlook for fairs across Michigan are not as positive as our memories. The Ionia Free Fair has not been "free" for years, and as The Detroit News reports today, the Michigan State Fair will be going out of business after 160 years.
Please share your Michigan fair memories in the comments.