HARTFORD — Get ready for carnival rides, a circus, rodeo, fireworks and a monster truck show when the Van Buren Youth Fair gets underway this week.
This year’s edition of the fair features six nights of grandstand entertainment and a variety of other events throughout the day.
“Our fair offers affordable family fun for summer ‘staycations,’” said Stephanie Zabavski, president of the Van Buren Youth Fair Board of Directors. “We offer many free events throughout the week, such as music under the community tent, small and large livestock shows, and horse shows. As this is the 64th Annual Van Buren Youth Fair, it is a long standing community event that has become a tradition for many residents.”
Grandstand entertainment begins Monday with tethered balloon rides. Magic Clouds Balloon Corp. of Battle Creek will start the rides at 7 p.m., featuring Sapphire, a 4-person hot air balloon that holds 105,000 cubic feet of air.
Entertainment will change considerably on Tuesday when the Hartford NTPA Nationals roars into the grandstand at 7 p.m. The popular truck and tractor pull features super farm tractors, two-wheel drive pickups and a super stock combo.
Big boy toys continue to dominate the grandstand entertainment Wednesday with the Michigan Monster Truck Shootout at 7:30 p.m. The event includes an ugliest truck contest, a show-n-shine contest and back-to-back pickup truck pulls.
Thursday’s show will vary considerably from entertainment featured in the past at the fair when the Cincinnati Circus performs.
Hailing from Cincinnati, the group of performers will present an aerial show, side show and a stunt show.
“We chose the Cincinnati Circus as a new event to bring a different type of attraction to our fairgrounds,” Zabavski said. “We have not had an event of this type at our fairgrounds and we thought it would be a fun and exciting attraction for our guests.”
The circus will perform at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
One of the fair’s most popular shows will take place at 7 p.m., Friday, when the Super Kicker Rodeo begins followed by a free fireworks show.
Grandstand entertainment will come to a close Saturday with another popular event: the Demolition Derby, which begins at 7 p.m.
“For many years, the Superkicker Rodeo and fireworks on Friday night and the demolition derby put on by Unique Motor Sports on Saturday night are traditionally our most popular events,” Zabavski said. “However, the Michigan Monster Truck Shoot-Out on Wednesday has been popular for the past two years as well as the Magic Cloud Hot Air Ballons on Monday. The Hartford NTPA Nationals Tractor Pulls always draw a big crowd as well.”
But grandstand entertainment isn’t the only thing that draws people to the fair.
Each year, approximately 400 youth, primarily 4-H members, spend the week showing the animals they’ve raised throughout the year, as well as crafts they’ve created, for the opportunity to win awards.
The Fair Board will continue to pay full premiums to exhibitors this year, marking the 10th straight year, after funding was cut by the state to all 86 fairs located throughout the state.
Several groups and organizations have again stepped up this year to assist the fair in paying those premiums to the 4-H and open class exhibitors, according to Zabavski.
The Van Buren 4-H Leaders Association and the Van Buren Sheriff’s Mounted Division are two groups that support the fair with financial donations toward premiums.
The fairgrounds are located on the corner of County Road 681 and Red Arrow Highway, midway between Hartford and Lawrence.