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August 22 • 05:15 AM
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Fair weather perfect for Fair


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Brothers Benjamin and Alec Respecki of Lansing sample the cuisine at fair in Imlay City. photo by Tom Wearing.

August 13, 2008
IMLAY CITY — A few raindrops couldn't keep the crowds away from the 109th Eastern Michigan Fair.

Fair Manager Ian Kempf said that attendance numbers were in line with 2006's record tally of 37,000.

"Even with the rain on Saturday we came out of it with a great fair," he said.

"After the storms passed, people poured in faster than we could park them."

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No doubt, the endless list of attractions drew in the healthy crowds.

Visitors had the chance to see a calf born in the FFA petting zoo, walk through beautiful garden displays created by Lapeer County Master Gardeners, take in performances from Circus Pages, listen to local performers on stage, watch 4-H animal shows and of course, satisfy their need for thrills along the midway.

Big crowds turned out for the always popular grandstand events each night. Participation in Wednesday's bull riding and Thursday's motocross was up, Kempf said.

"We had the biggest turnout of riders this year of all the Thumb's area fairs," he said of the motocross.

Wednesday afternoon found friends Chuckie Helton, 5 and Zachary Gibbs, 6, chowing down on elephant ears and Snocones. They were recouping from all the 'big boy' rides they'd tried out for the first time. But they weren't done.

"We're making our second trip around," Chuckie's mom, Marilyn Helton, of Lapeer said.

The boys were ready to return to the kite ride where they could pretend to "be like Superman."

Speaking of superheroes, the fair board recognized the volunteers who invest many hours into making the Eastern Michigan Fair a rousing success.

Steve Schapman of Almont was named the Craig Ferrier Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award.

"Steve's a huge help all year," Kempf said.

"Even if there's no one else around, he can be found out in the barns or around the grounds doing a project."

Friend of Youth honors went to Bill and Virginia Ankley of Imlay City.

"When it comes to kids, they're always around," Kempf said.

"This year they were instrumental in making sure the FFA exhibit was a success. They're big-hearted people."

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