Some old-fashioned fun

PELKIE – The calendar flips to August on Friday, and that means it’s time for the Baraga County Fair.

Baraga’s fair is a bit of a throwback, with animals, crafts and people at the forefront, rather than rides and a traveling midway. And that’s what makes it special, said fair Executive Board President Dave Hoskins.

“The unique thing about the Baraga County Fair is it still remains an agricultural fair, a real country fair,” said Hoskins. “We, the board, try to keep it that way. We try to bring in new things every year, but not get away from the truly agricultural fair.”

New events this year include Sunday’s dirt-track stock car derby, a chili cook off and the Baraga’s Got Talent talent show.

“We’re hoping people will get on board and juggle and sing opera and make a go of it,” Fair Manager Melissa Treadeau said of Baraga’s Got Talent. “Right now we’ve got seven or eight people signed up, and we can always use more.”

Treadeau said a large group of volunteers help the fair add new events without eliminating anybody’s favorites, such as mud bogs, horse and pony pulls, riding shows, a demolition derby, musical performances and a pie-eating contest. There is also bounce equipment for kids, the Baraga County Queen coronation, and the ugly purse, tool and tackle-box auctions, where the ugly containers are stuffed with attractive prizes.

Another new event is the 4-H sponsored Commodity Carnival, a game that teaches youth who may not have the opportunity to raise livestock about the costs, challenges and risks involved in raising an animal for sale.

Covington’s Laura Webb, 18, who just returned from a stint as counselor at 4-H camp, will be one of the game’s organizers. She said she expects youth to both enjoy and learn from the game.

“I think the kids are going to love it, because they have a real life experience about what it’s like to raise animals,” Webb said.

Karen Connors, 4-H program coordinator for Baraga, Houghton and Keweenaw counties, said Baraga is one of just two counties in the U.P. given the opportunity to run the Commodity Carnival this year. The game will be running for at least three hours each day, she said.

There will also be plenty of opportunities for youth and adults alike to show off – or auction off – living and breathing livestock, from cattle to rabbits and everything in between. They can also show their cooking and crafting skills in traditional fair competitions.

Sarah Connors, 10, said she plans to enter crafts she made at 4-H camp, including a shoe planter – a flower planted in a used shoe – and an artificial flower she made out of aluminum cans. She’s also looking forward to seeing the animals, she said.

Another special thing about the fair, Hoskins said, is it’s a place to see old friends you might only see once a year, including former residents who plan vacations around the fair’s schedule.

“I encourage everybody to come out to the fair. It’s a cheap few hours of entertainment,” he said.

The Baraga County Fair runs Friday through Sunday at the county fairgrounds in Pelkie, next to the Pelkie Elementary School.

Entry is $4 for adults, $3 for children and six and under are free. Three-day passes are also available. To learn more, go to baragacountyfair.com.