Iron County Fair set to start Thursday in Iron River

Zach Gagnea of Iron River takes mare Sassy through her paces Monday in a paddock at the Iron County Fairgrounds in Iron River. Gagnea, 27, is president of the Iron County Fair Board that oversees the four-day event that opens competition Thursday. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Betsy Bloom)

IRON RIVER — After a summer lost to the pandemic, the Iron County Fair is ready to celebrate its 129th year.

The familiar favorite events — the Horse Fun Night, crowning of the fair queen, the livestock judging and auction, the cornhole tournament, the regular and pint-sized demolition derbies — all are set to return.

New to the mix this year is a Mud Bogs competition Friday. Zach Gagnea, in his first year as Iron County Fair Board president, said his father and friends suggested the new event and have since taken over organizing it.

“We just felt we needed more for the community,” Gagnea said, adding they anticipate at least 100 trucks will attempt a run through the mud course.

They had hoped to add a new outdoor horse barn this year as well but supply shortages hampered construction, Gagnea said. The frame is taking shape and it should be completed this fall, he said.

Some practice riding already was taking place at the Iron County Fairgrounds in Iron River on Monday. From left are Zach Gagnea of Iron River, fair board president, with mare Sassy; Tashiena Aschenbach; and Gracyn Melstrom of Iron River with mare Dixie. The fair’s Horse Fun Night events take place Thursday and the open class horse show Sunday morning, both in the arena. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Betsy Bloom)

“But that, as far as I see, is the only setback” experienced in preparing for this year’s fair so far, he said.

The schedule calls for fairgrounds gates to be open from noon to 7 p.m. today to begin checking in entries.

An arts and crafts sale will be featured on the grounds all day Thursday through Saturday. The antique farm equipment display will open Thursday and continues through the fair.

The carnival, K&M Rides and Amusements, will operate from 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The fair did not have information available yet on ticket prices or wristbands.

Thursday offers the start of open class exhibit judging.

Music by Jim Clement, a regular at the fair, can be heard from noon to 3 p.m. at the bandstand.

Horse Fun Night events begin in the rodeo arena at 4 p.m., followed by speeches from the four Miss Iron County Queen candidates at 4:30 p.m. at the bandstand and the kids’ coin scramble at 6 p.m. in the rotunda.

The Friend of the Fair Award will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the rotunda, where the winner of the Miss Iron County Queen contest will be announced at 7 p.m.

Friday features more open class exhibit judging throughout the day, along with livestock judging starting at 9 a.m. and market livestock judging at 1 p.m.

, both in the rotunda. It culminates in the market livestock auction at 6 p.m.

As mentioned, the fair this year will have a Mud Bogs competition Friday, with registration from 2 to 5 p.m., then runs beginning at 5 p.m. at the old practice field behind the grandstands.

Classes include stock class 34.5 tires and under; mega class; modified 34.5 tires and under; open class; stock 35 ties and up; 2-wheel drive open; modified 35 tires and up; and open class. Entry fee is $35 for truck and driver per class and $10 per person in pit crew.

Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for ages 12 to 6, with 5 and younger allowed in for free.

Back Porch Eatery, from the Sawblade restaurant in Amasa, will serve a Friday night fish fry during the event from 4 p.m. until sold out.

Kyndrid Acoustic will perform from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the bandstand. The band lists as influences Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Chevelle, Stone Temple Pilots, Bad Company, Rush, Filter, 3Doors Down, System of a Down and others.

The other major Friday night event is the cornhole tournament, with $600, $500 and $300 awarded to the first- through third-place teams, respectively. Registration will start at 6 p.m. — cost to enter is $20 per team — with competition beginning at 7 p.m., both in the grandstand area. The tournament will follow rules outlined by the American Cornhole Association. This event is sponsored by the Iron River Downtown Development Authority.

Saturday kicks off at 9 a.m. with horse speed events in the arena, followed by a “Down on the Farm” presentation at 11 a.m. in the rotunda.

Laura’s Lyrics karaoke will be 1 to 4 p.m. at the bandstand.

The fair’s popular Kiddie Demolition Derby competition will start at 2 p.m. Saturday, with a fleet of 10 tiny, battery-powered cars available to little drivers.

Open to ages 3 to 7 and up to 80 pounds, Kiddie Demo mimics the well-known larger version of demolition derby but has balloons attached to the cars, with the winner being the driver that emerges from the rotunda with the most balloons still intact.

The winner will receive a Fisher-Price Power Wheels vehicle donated by O’Claire Promotions LLC of Quinnesec.

Cost is $5 for each child to participate, with no limit to the number who can enter — the more drivers, the more heats that will be run in each age group. Registration can be done starting at noon Wednesday at the fair office in the blue Bernhardt building on the fairgrounds.

Kiddie Demo drivers should bring a bicycle helmet if they have one, although some helmets will be available at the event as well.

The full-scale version of the sport will be at 6 p.m. in the grandstand. Payouts for super stock class are $5,000, $2,000 and $750 for first, second and third, respectively; and for mid-size, truck and compact class $1,000, $500 and $350 for first through third.

Admission to the evening demolition derby event is $10 for adults, $5 for children, with gates opening at 4 p.m.

Decade XS will perform from 6 to 9 p.m. at the bandstand.

Sunday begins with the loggers/farmers breakfast at 7 a.m. at the bandstand. The fair also has the Logger Expo starting at noon Sunday at the grandstand.

The open class horse show kicks off at 9 a.m. in the arena, while rabbit showmanship will be 10 a.m. in the rotunda.

The “backseat driver” — a blindfolded person tries to maneuver a partner in a wheelbarrow through a course, using only the other person’s voice commands as guide — and tricycle races start at 1 p.m. and are open to all ages, with no entry fee. This year, a wheelchair will be available to use in the “backseat driver” race for adults uneasy about climbing into a wheelbarrow.

Soundz of Time will play from 2 to 5 p.m. at the bandstand.

Drawings for the 126 raffle prizes — such as more than $600 in firewood, $500 in cash for second and third prizes and 15 prizes valued at $100 or higher — will start at 3 p.m. at the grandstand.

Exhibits and livestock will be released at 5 p.m.


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