Genesee County Fair returns for 170th year with carnival rides, unique shows, and tons of animals

A county fair conjures up feelings of familiarity and childhood that you simply can’t find anywhere else, Genesee County Fair is no different, this year celebrating 170 years of food, fun and farm animals starting beginning Monday Aug. 19. 

The world is a completely different place than it was 170 years ago when talks of a county fair began here in Flint after a number of residents attended Michigan’s first state fair, yet the allure of the Genesee County Fair remains and draws more than 100,000 attendees each year.

Of course, the county fair has evolved since the days of yore, adding daily mini shows, nightly grandstand events and the popular carnival rides. Through it all, one portion has remained a tried and true part of the fair: It’s commitment to agriculture. 

The Genesee County Fair is a place where for one week people can come and see and interact with animals they wouldn’t otherwise. 

“Advancements over the course of the past 170 years have, in many ways, improved the human experience, but the single-most relevant need in today's society is that of bringing our diverse community together in a grand celebration. The Fair continues to provide that dynamic.” said Christian Miller, executive director of the Genesee County Agricultural Society/Fair. 

Genesee County Agricultural Society is the non profit responsible for putting on the Genesee County Fair every year since it began all those years ago and while the world around has changed immensely, the basics of the fair have not. 

This year’s Genesee County fair begins at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 19 with the Koegel's Kickoff — which features a free  Koegel Vienna hotdog for the first 1,000 guests. It’s also Kids Day, a longstanding tradition for the fair’s opening day offering up lots of activities for the littles. 

The themes continue through Thursday with coordinating specials and daily events. Tuesday is  Senior Citizens Day, Wednesday is Farmers Day and Thursday is Armed Forces Day. 

Admission to the fair is free, but a daily parking pass is $10 or a weekly for $20. Wristbands for carnival rides are $25.

While the rides and abundance of animals are a sure draw, the fair offers dozens of different daily shows and events, often occurring multiple times so that as many people as possible can enjoy or even partake. Grandstand events require a $30 fun pass, which is good for the whole week and all shows at the grandstand. 

Look for events from X-treme chainsaw artistry to redneck games to sheep shearing. Plus there are the always-popular nightly Grandstand events including the classic truck and tractor pull and a concert by country music star Trace Adkins.

There are a few additions that are completely new to the fair this year such as a Mud Bog Grandstand event and a new ride called the Sky Dancer. Also, Live Shark encounter is a new educational show being offered multiple times daily. It involves a diver, a 9,000 gallon tank, and a few “huge” sharks. 

The Genesee County Fair continues through Sunday, Aug. 25th. It is produced this year, as it is every year, by the Genesee County Agricultural Society. Most exhibits run 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. 

For more information, including a complete schedule of events, visit the Genesee County Fair website at gcf.org.

Read more articles by Ashley Schafer.

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