IMLAY CITY — For the sixth straight year, Imlay City Ford and the Eastern Michigan State Fair are teaming up to help make special memories for members of Lapeer County's special needs community.
Starting at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 25, registered individuals with special needs and their caregivers are welcome to pass through the fairground's turnstiles for free.
In addition to free admission, the guests of honor will be treated to tours of the grounds and unlimited midway rides provided by staff from Arnold Amusements from 10 a.m. - noon.
After the midway rides, everyone will gather beneath a large tent for a free lunch and refreshments compliments of Imlay City Ford owner Paul LaFontaine Jr., who will join his staff in serving meals to the guests.
Eastern Michigan State Fair Manager Ian Kempf said "Special Needs Day" dates back to 2014, when the fair board and Imlay City Ford collaborated with Lapeer County ISD Transition and Career Services Coordinator, Bob O'Dell, to coordinate the first-ever event.
Since then, the program has grown from 80 guests in the first year to more than 300 people during the past four years.
Kempf notes it is important that all special guests and their caregivers register in advance through a qualified participating agency or program.
The deadline to register for the program is Wednesday, July 24 at noon.
"It's so great to see the smiles on the faces of people who may have never been on a merry-go-round before," says Kempf. "Some of them may never have been to a fair before."
For further information about Special Needs Day, call the Eastern Michigan State Fair office at 810-724-4145.
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.