March 25 05:51 AM

Fair draws thousands

Almost 50,000 people pass through gates at Imlay's Eastern Michigan Fair

August 12, 2009
IMLAY CITY — The sun has set on another successful Eastern Michigan Fair.

Had it not been for a rain-soaked Saturday, the 2009 fair could have surpassed all others in gate receipts, Manager Ian Kempf said.

"The weather on Saturday put somewhat of a damper of activities, but it did break long enough to get in the demolition derby," Kempf said.

"Still we had a pretty good crowd considering the weather. All in all, we ended up just shy of our high water mark," he said referring to the record-setting years of 2006 and 2008.

Kempf estimates paid attendance stood at 37,000 with total attendance at 47,000.

"We really had a great week. It was incident-free," he said.

New additions to the fair lineup proved to be popular. Everything from Wednesday night's concert with The Lost Trailers and Whitney Duncan to pool trick shot master Dr. Cue drew the crowds fair organizers had hoped for.

"It was interesting to see how the word traveled fast and every show grew," Kempf said of the Dr. Cue performances.

Kempf gave kudos to organizers with the Thumb area Amateur Pool Association organizers for promoting their various events.

In the animal barns and tents, 4-H and FFA members proudly cared for and showed their livestock projects.

In the FFA petting zoo Jill Maliepaard of Troy and her family were trying to keep up with the active rabbits under Taryn Rubino's watchful eye.

Maliepaard said it was the second year her family had made the more than hour trek north for the fair.

"It's a drive but the kids have fun. They love all the animals and all the rides," she said.

Crowds gathered in the FFA tent several times during the week to witness calves being born. As of Friday, five had been born, although several came in the late night and early morning hours.

FFA advisor Tammy Hyatt said they were thrilled to bring this unique experience to the public. Despite their best efforts, only one calf was born during last year's fair.

FFA members Amanda Taylor and Sarah Buchler, both of North Branch, were on hand for the births and to answer observer's questions.

"A lot of the people knew what was going on," Taylor said.

"Some people asked why the calf had to be pulled and we explained they were heifers, this was their first calf," Buchler said.

"It was a good learning experience, especially for the kids."

For friends Beau Stratton of North Branch and Jake Newton of Imlay City, spending the week together in the hog barn meant they could share some laughs. Apparently the boys had fun pulling pranks on fellow 4-Hers.

Kempf said both the 4-H and FFA groups did a "super job."

Receiving fair board recognition on Saturday night were Volunteer of the Year Nancy Parsch and Serving Youth with Excellence recipients Bob and Carol Straight.

Nancy and husband, Al, who serves as fair board treasurer, spend fair week at the front entrance gate. On hand to watch Nancy receive the award were her parents, Bob and Margaret. Bob was a former fair manager.

The Straights have been poultry superintendents for several years, Kempf said, who are very dedicated to the program and youth they mentor.

"All of our volunteers and staff worked hard to make this year's fair a success," Kempf said.

"The fair board really strives to make this something the community can be proud of."

To see even more photos from the Eastern Michigan Fair, be sure to visit our Web site at, and head to our photo gallery.

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