Fair showed again why it is one of County’s biggest events

August 1, 2019

The classic Ferris Wheel towers over the Clare County Fair Midway. Photos by Steve Landon

By Steve Landon

One hundred and thirty six years ago a county fair was born in the bustling, little lumbering town of Harrison. Since that first gathering in 1883, the Clare County Fair has evolved into the finest county fair in Northern Lower Michigan drawing thousands of visitors each year for an action packed week of family fun.

Today the grounds have fallen silent, field mice and squirrels now scurry about looking for delicious crumbs and goodies left from previous inhabitants. Just one week ago the sweet smells of popcorn, cotton candy and other tantalizing foods filled the air. The grounds were buzzing with activity end-to-end and side-to-side as the 136th Annual Clare County Fair kicked into high gear July 22-27. Next to Christmas and the Fourth of July the fair is one of the most anticipated events in the area thanks to countless volunteers who work year round to make one mid summer week a magical treat for young and old.

A heat wave with high humidity leading up to the fair broke just before opening day. While temperatures were a bit on the warm side at times, overall it was a good week for people and livestock. A few scattered showers popped up, however, they were brief and had little to no effect on activities.

Large, Small Animal and Equine competition was tight in all age groups. Some of the up and coming youngsters in the showmanship classes surprised judges with their in depth knowledge about their project animals. Older youth better look out for these kids next year in Overall Showmanship competition, they’re going to be tough to beat.

Something new this year was added to keep youngsters busy all week long at fair. The 4-H program hosted events called Fun at Four. On Wednesday the Fun at Four activity was goat yoga with elected officials. Several people gathered in the T-Barn with yoga mats and pig boards ready to tackle some relaxing poses amongst some baby goats. Everyone seemed to be having a great time based on all the giggles and laughs.

Back in the midway Skerbeck Family Carnival provided a good variety of rides for thrill seekers, and youngsters.

As in the past the fair delivered with top onstage live entertainment. On Thursday night Lanco sang their way into the hearts of music fans followed by the forever young Oakridge Boys on Friday night. Great weather, topnotch performers singing the tunes everyone loves, who could ask for more anything more.

A member of the Greatest Generation paid a visit to the veteran’s museum on the grounds Saturday. Irene Petras Pudelek of Lincoln Park didn’t fight the World War II on the battlefield, she fought it on the home front working for the “Arsenal of Democracy” as a “Rosie the Riveter” A majority of the male workforce was serving in the war. To meet the demand to build everything from rations to airplanes America’s women were called upon to help get the job done, Irene Petras Pudelek was one of many who answered the call.

At the young age of ‘18 Pudelek was hired in at the Desoto Chrysler plant – Detroit in September 1943 working as a riveter on the wings of the B-17 flying fortress. She married Albert F. Pudelek in 1944 and left Chrysler to join her husband at Hobbs Army Airfield in New Mexico where she worked as a mechanics general helper repairing airplanes until April 1945 when she returned to Michigan to raise a family. Her family owns property on Long Lake in Harrison, Her son and daughter in-law purchased a Rosie Rosebush for Veterans Freedom Park to honor her as part of a National Campaign to honor “Rosie’s” across the nation. Maye Rood of Harrison who is active with the Veterans Freedom Park and the effort to honor “Rosie’s” for their contributions during WW II met Irene for the first time at the fair. It was a special honor she’ll long cherish, as will others who met this wonderful lady whose efforts along with thousands of other women on the home front helped keep America free. If you’re at the fair in 2020 make a point to stop and see some nice displays honoring our veterans.

In addition to the stage shows this year covered a wide variety of interests that included; Harness Horse Racing, a Demolition Derby, Mud Bog, Demo Derby and a Rodeo.

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