Week-long event still well attended

IMLAY CITY — It wasn’t the kind of weather they had hoped for during the Eastern Michigan State Fair, but fair officials are still pleased with the end results.

“All in all, it was a pretty good event, all things considered,” said Fair Manager Ian Kempf. “When we had good weather, people came out in big numbers and really supported us.”

Unfortunately, Mother Nature also visited the fair many times.

“I don’t think I have ever had a fair like this in my 25 years,” Kempf proclaimed. “We’ve had rain before, but the seemingly constant threat of severe weather, and the storms we did have, I’ve never had to deal with that before. It made for some interesting times.”

The headaches started early, even before the fair kicked off last Saturday.

“On the Thursday before the fair even started, we lost two tents in a thunderstorm,” said Kempf. “We had two 40’ x 100’ tents damaged and had to get one of them replaced before animals started to arrive,” Kempf said.

Fair board members and volunteers worked hard to get the replaced tent up in time for swine to start arriving a week ago. On two separate occasions, they had to move 60 head of goats and sheep to a safer location when storms pounded the fairgrounds.

“Twice, we had to use our extra gates to make pens for goats and sheep and move them from the open-air barn to a safer place inside a barn on the fairgrounds,” Kempf stated. That was a lot of work, but it went pretty smoothly. We have great volunteers.”

Kempf said on Sunday and Monday, persistent rains dampened the grounds.

“Tuesday was a good day, with strong crowds,” Kempf said. “We had the wettest Monster Truck show ever on Wednesday and then Thursday, storms were all around us, but never hit. So, we had a pretty good day.”

He concluded his weather recap by saying, “then Friday came. That will be remembered for a long time.” The closing day of the fair, on Saturday, was one of the best turnouts of the whole week” Kempf said.