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Our state fair is a great state fair! The Michigan State Fair is back this weekend


It’s back! That basic staple of summertime Americana burned into our brains even if we have never been … the Michigan State Fair.

Michigan_State_Fair_20120409053911_320_240There is a lot of tradition here. Our state far was the longest running state fair in the country until funds ran dry in 2009.  It’s great to have this institution back with us after the four-year break, when the state’s financial crisis broke the 160-year tradition, which dated back to 1849.

Earlier this year, a coalition of business people, led by Blair Bowman of the Suburban Collection Showplace, along with Fifth Third Bank and the Shrine Circus made the commitment to bring the State Fair back to Michigan. The nostalgic summer shindig, however, finds a new twist with the 21st century’s state-of-the art Suburban Collection Showplace, which will host the event both in and out of the building.

The State Fair runs from August 30 to September 2.

“When the opportunity to help bring back the Michigan State Fair after a four-year layoff arose, we jumped at it,” stated Jack Riley, senior vice president, marketing director at Fifth Third Bank.  “We knew that with the Shrine Circus as a centerpiece and the Suburban Collection Showplace as the fair site, this revived version of the State Fair could be bigger and better than ever before…one the entire State could be proud of.”

This new version of the fair will keep alive the classic Rockwell-like image of a state fair by shining a spotlight on and celebrating the role of agriculture, both as an industry and its economic significance in Michigan.  Also to help that spirit along is a host of family friendly entertainment, like the Shrine Circus presented by Brighthouse Networks.

As part of the circus the most famous family in circus history, the Wallendas, will bring an all-new troupe of performers for the fair. Rick Wallenda, eldest grandson of founders Karl and Helen, will present his troupe of daredevils in a rare local performance since the family appeared at the 1962 Michigan State Fair.

The Wallendas‘ 1962 performance during the Shrine Circus at the Michigan State Fair Coliseum was marked by tragedy. During a performance of their famed seven-person chair pyramid, a man on the wire, faltered and the pyramid collapsed. Three men fell to the ground, killing Richard Faughnan, son-in-law of founder Karl Wallenda, and nephew Dieter Schepp. Karl injured his pelvis, and his adopted son, Mario, was also injured, with partial paralysis.

WallendasHeadstandAbramson_444e0febc617404a622950da6d0c2a43373“Our family is honored to be returning to Michigan and looking very forward to introducing our new troupe to all at the Michigan State Fair. Thanks so much to the Detroit Shriners for inviting us,” said Rick Wallenda.

And, of course, what conjures in the mind of most people when the word fair is uttered… there will be a midway full of rides, presented by Wal-Mart.  There will also be the usual games and fair food sharing in the spotlight.

The Fifth Third Bank Michigan State Fair will have the wistful traditions that fair goers have enjoyed.  There will be animal exhibits, home goods, and the iconic pie and hot dog eating contests and other familiar typed of entertainment.

“Fifth Third Bank recognized the State Fair as not only a destination for fun and entertainment for families across the state of Michigan, but as a declaration of agriculture as an economic force within the state”, said David Girodat, president and CEO of Fifth Third (Eastern Michigan).  We are proud to be the title sponsor for this event and are committed to supporting the revival of this Michigan tradition.”

midwayAccording to Pure Michigan, here are six things you don’t want to miss:

  • Live entertainment featuring Michigan sons Marshall Crenshaw, George Bedard and Stewart Francke, as well as a full schedule of entertainers hailing from all across the state
  • The Shrine Circus
  • The farmers’ market offering locally grown produce for the first time
  • The State Fair Beer Garden, which will be pouring Griffin Claw of Birmingham, Vander Mill Cider of Spring Lake, Kuhnhenn Brewing Company and Dragon Mead from Warren and North Peak Brewing Company of Traverse City, courtesy of Powers Distributing
  • The carnival rides in the newly expanded Arnold Amusements Midway, presented by Wal-Mart
  • The Butter Cow, a feat of dairy sculpture like no other. It’s created by Tom Paul Fitzgerald of Almont, a retired instructor of art sculpting from Wayne State University. Fitzgerald was the sculptor of the Butter Cow for 18 previous years at the Michigan State Fair.

Also on location will be the eBus, to offer financial advice to those who want it.  The eBus will also act as the Fifth Third /mLIVE Hot Spot, which features free computer and internet accessibility, and will have a phone charging station.  The Fifth Third/mLIVE Hot Spot will be operational Friday-Sunday from 1:00-8:00 pm and on Monday from noon until 5 p.m.

Anyone who visits a Fifth Third Financial Center between now and Labor Day can get a $5.00 off coupon.  The coupon can be used put towards an “Ultimate Wristband” for a day at the fair.  The Ultimate wristband allows access to all exhibits and entertainment, one circus performance, and unlimited midway rides.  Without the offer the Ultimate wristbands cost $30.00

elephantHere’s the schedule:

The Exhibit Hall, with all of the fair’s vendors and the Farmers’ Market, will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. Hours are as follows:

  • Friday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Monday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Circus Performance Times

  • Noon
  • 2:30 p.m.
  • 5 p.m.
  • 7:30 p.m. (except Monday)

Entertainment Schedule



11 a.m. Me & My Friends
1:15 p.m. Detroit Soul Men
2:15 p.m Alexa Spierling
3 p.m 1st Annual Michigan State Fair Choir
3:30 p.m. KayLyn Pace and the KayLyn Pace Band
4:30 p.m. Step In Line Dancers
5 p.m. Freddy Keys


11 a.m. Gratitude Steel Band
12:30 p.m. Mindy Callahan
1:45 p.m. Benjamin Hoppe/Hoppe Family
2:45 p.m. Flood Gate
4 p.m. Tim Reeves


11 a.m. Outside Detroit
12:15 p.m. Fady Yasso
1:30 p.m. Raft
2:45 p.m. Detroit Soul Men
4 p.m. Gratitude Steel Band

Evening Entertainment


7-8:15 p.m. Ryan Dillaha & The Miracle Men
8:45-11 p.m. Stewart Francke


7-8:15 p.m. Steven Mullan Band
8:45-11 p.m. Marshall Crenshaw


5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Stereo Jane
7-8:15 p.m. Delilah DeWylde & The Lost Boys
8:45-11 p.m. George Bedard & The Kingpins

Contest Schedule

All contests held at Contest Central in the Exhibit Hall.


11:30 a.m. Carrot Drop
12:30 p.m. Hot Dog Eating
1:30 p.m. Pie Eating
2:30 p.m Watermelon Seed Spitting
3:30 p.m Ice Cream Eating
5:30 p.m Milk Mustache


11:30 a.m. Diaper Derby
12:30 p.m .Longest PonyTail/Longest Beard or Mustache
1:30 p.m Pie Eating
2:30 p.m Twin, Triplets, Oh My!
2:30 p.m Mother/Daughter and Father/Son Look-alike
3:30 p.m. Husband and Wife Calling
4:30 p.m. Hula Hoop
5:30 p.m. Pasta Eating


11:30 a.m. Potato Sack Race
12:30 p.m. Corn-on-the-Cob Eating
1:30 p.m. Pie Eating
2:30 p.m Husband and Wife Calling
3:30 p.m. Frozen T-Shirt
4:30 p.m. Hula Hoop
5:30 p.m. Milk Mustache


11:30 a.m. Potato Sack Race
1:30 p.m Pie Eating
2:30 p.m Ice Cream Eating
3:30 p.m Watermelon Seed Spitting

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