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Mich. State Fair adds extra day for traveling fairgoers

The 4th annual Michigan State Fair will be held Thursday through Friday at the Surburban Collection Showcase in Novi

Stephanie Steinberg
The Detroit News

For Labor Day travelers bummed about missing the Michigan State Fair in previous summers, organizers have tacked on one more day this year, so more people have a chance to partake in the pie-eating contests, sheep shearing and carnival rides.

“Because we are during the holiday weekend, we had requests from customers that said, ‘Would you consider opening on Thursday so we can come to the fair before we head Up North and have a Pure Michigan weekend?’ ” says Steve Masters, the state fair’s executive director.

The requests were granted. The fourth annual Fifth Third Bank Michigan State Fair will be held Thursday through Monday at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. Organizers say t hey hope the extra day will increase attendance from last year’s count of roughly 110,000 fairgoers.

“Were hopeful to have a 10-15 percent increase, which will put us at 130,000 people,” Masters says.

This year, the fairgrounds have expanded by 43 acres — allowing for new equestrian arenas, a Ram truck test-drive track and space for over 50 amusement park rides.

Two carnival midways will feature rides from Traverse City based-Arnold Amusements, which is offering new attractions such as the Wave Swinger (a swing ride that flies 70 people through the air), Zero Gravity (a weightlessness simulation ride) and Funny Farm Fun House.

Reading also is a theme this year, as the fair will host an exhibit of 25 Little Free Libraries decorated by local artists. Fairgoers can vote on their favorites, and the winning artists will receive cash prizes from $100 to $1,000. The libraries will be planted in Detroit community gardens this fall and filled with books for readers of all ages to borrow. The goal of the nonprofit is to install 313 Little Free Libraries around Detroit; there are about 150 in the city.

“We’re really working to bridge the gap in agriculture between rural agriculture and urban agriculture, and literacy is universal,” Martin says. “To go into some of these areas that are underserved by libraries … with our partners at the urban farms just seemed like a real natural fit.”

Young adult author Johnathan Rand (whose real name is Christopher Wright), creator of the “Michigan Chillers” series, will be among the Michigan authors meetings fans and signing books for the first Reader’s Round-Up. Rand, who lives in northern Michigan and has a store, Chillermania, in Indian River, will appear Thursday at 11 a.m. Others include Newbery medalist Christopher Paul Curtis, author of “Bud, Not Buddy,” and “The Colored Car” author Jean Alicia Elster, both of Detroit.

For those seeking live entertainment, the Michigan Music Mega Jam will be at 1 p.m. Monday on the mainstage. Hosted by producer Nadir Omowale, performances include those of Detroit artists Thornetta Davis, Jill Jack, Sean Blackman, and Brandon Calhoon, among other Michigan natives. The 15 State Fair Superstar semi-finalists also will perform on the main stage Thursday and Friday starting at 5 p.m. The grand-prize winner and runner-up will headline the entertainment at 8 p.m. Sunday.

The state fair wouldn’t be the state fair without livestock. Spectators can once again watch pigs race around a track. And while attendees won’t be able to milk a real cow, Buttercup — a talking cow that spews educational facts — will teach kids the practice.

“She is udderly excited for the fair,” Masters says.

Those who milk Buttercup can pay $1 for unlimited chocolate milk refills.

Tickets to the fair (which do not include carnival and circus admission) are $6 for adults and $8 for kids ages 2-11. Children under 2 get in free with a paid adult. Senior citizens age 62 and older will receive free admission for the Senior Citizens’ Program on Thursday. Any Boy Scout or Girl Scout in uniform, as well as veterans and military members, will also get free entry on opening day.

Guests who bring three nonperishable canned food items for the Gleaners Community Food Bank on Thursday will receive $5 off a $30 Ultimate Wristband, which grants access to rides, the Shrine Circus, entertainment stages, and horse show pavilions, among other attractions. The wristbands can also be purchased at Kroger stores at a $9 discount.

The fair is also hosting the first Stand Up to Cancer Day on Friday. For each guest who attends, Fifth Third Bank will donate $1 to the cancer research collective Stand Up to Cancer!

The first state fair was held in Detroit in 1849 and was on Woodward Avenue from 1905 to 2009, when it ended due to state budget issues. It is now produced by a private entity, Michigan State Fair LLC, and sponsored by Fifth Third Bank.

ssteinberg@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2156

@Steph_Steinberg

Michigan State Fair

Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday-Sunday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday

Location: Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River, Novi

Full schedule: Visit michiganstatefairllc.com