Arts & Culture
1:08 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

New fair will be 'Michigan made'

This year, a group is hosting a new fair in Michigan they're calling the "resurgence" of the Michigan State Fair.

Dubbed the Great Lakes State Fair, the four day festival will be held at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi over Labor Day weekend from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3.

The state of Michigan used to have two state fairs, one in each peninsula.

The Upper Peninsula State Fair continues to run in Escanaba, where it was established in 1927.

The Michigan State Fair in the lower peninsula debuted in 1849 in Detroit, and settled into a permanent location at the Michigan State Fairgrounds, a 157 acre property is located just east of Woodward Avenue, in 1905. (See our slideshow above for a look back at the old state fair.)

After former Gov. Jennifer Granholm cut state funding for Detroit's Michigan State Fair in 2009 due to low attendance, the event was not held the following two summers. Last year, Gov. Rick Snyder sold the Detroit Fairgrounds.

Now, a private sector non-profit called the Great Lakes Agricultural Fair has received enough funding to host a new fair, which will not be subsidized by state tax dollars. Funders of the fair include Meijer, Genisys Credit Union, Powers Distributing and the International Transmission Company.

The Great Lakes State Fair will feature Michigan agriculture and livestock exhibits, amusement rides, local craft vendors, a Michigan brewery beer garden, and a scaled-down version of the Detroit Shrine mini-circus with live elephants and tigers.

Kent Roberts, the Vice Chairman of the Great Lakes State Fair Board says the focus of this new fair will be "Michigan-Made." 

"Obviously, there was a void after the state fair collapsed, and there was nowhere for people in Michigan's agricultural and commodity industries to showcase their work," he said. "I'm just so excited that they're excited to resurrect a form of the old state fair."

Roberts says they even hired a Michigan-based midway contractor to provide the fair's amusement rides.

Ticket prices range from $5-25 for children, and $6-30 for adults, depending on attraction access.

Can't make the Great Lakes State Fair? There are dozens of county fairs coming up this month across the state.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

*Correction - a previous version failed to identify the UP State Fair as another official state fair. It's been corrected in the copy above.