Mecosta County Agricultural Free Fair begins this week

Many events and activities are planned for the week of the Mecosta County Agricultural Free Fair, which begins Monday, including the baby calf show, set to begin at noon on Thursday, July 12. (Pioneer file photo)

Young exhibitors will take to the arena throughout the week to test their showmanship skills and knowledge before a judge. (Pioneer file photo)

Another “PIGcasso” piece was created by Grace Kwiatkowski and her pig for the silent auction. Kwiatkowski hopes to donate her proceeds from the painting to the Mecosta County 4-H Program. (Courtesy photo)

BIG RAPIDS — While the animals may not be in their pens yet, the Mecosta County fairgrounds are abuzz with activity as 4-H’ers prepare for the week ahead. Monday marks the beginning of the Mecosta County Agricultural Free Fair with showmanship judging and classes, racing and midway games and rides.

“The fair is a great summer stop to put on your list. It’s a great place to go and have many experiences in one trip,” said Tarin Minkel, Mecosta County 4-H program coordinator. “Come out and support the local youth, whether by coming to the auction and bidding or just asking questions and talking to the kids about their projects.

“You could be supporting their college education, first car, down payment on a house. It’s really cool to see the things kids can do with 4-H and their involvement in the fair.”

Minkel noted a few changes to this year’s fair schedule, including when the livestock auction will begin on Thursday. The auction, normally set to begin at 6 p.m., will be starting at 5 p.m. because the number of animals has increased, Minkel said. Another change to the schedule will possibly bring more involvement in Ag Olympics this year.

“Ag Olympics changed from Friday to Wednesday night,” Minkel said, noting Fridays at the fair are generally full of activities in the horse arena, meaning equestrian 4-H’ers could miss the games. “We are hoping more kids can participate.”

Ag Olympics begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Different horse showmanship classes are set through the week, including jumping, English and Western riding, gymkhana and more. (Pioneer file photo)

Also new this year will be a silent auction in the still exhibit buildings. Bidding will begin on Wednesday and continue to Friday, with the minimum bid for sale items being $25. Bidders will need to register with the office in the exhibit building or the Michigan State University Extension office.

Of the items for sale in the office, bidders will be able to find two abstract paintings created by Grace Kwiatkowski and Nayelie Monrroy and their pigs. The girls coated the end of paintbrushes in marshmallow fluff and dipped the bristles in paint. They then held the brushes so the pigs wouldn’t eat them as the four-legged artists created their masterpieces.

“This is the first year of the silent auction and the girls wanted to do something to help make it grow,” said Faith Kwiatkowski. “The girls decided to donate the proceeds. They want to draw a little more attention to the silent auction and in turn, turn over the money to the clubs they love so much.”

Grace will be donating funds raised from her pig’s painting to the Mecosta County 4-H Program, and Monrroy will donate her funds to the Junior Livestock Association.

“I thought this was an awesome idea,” Grace said.

Monrroy agreed.

“I thought it was really cool,” she said.

The still exhibit buildings will be open throughout the week of the fair, and those who are not 4-H members can enter an item, Minkel said.

Nayelie Monrroy holds a paintbrush for her pig while it creates an abstract painting. Monrroy hopes to sell the piece in the silent auction at the fair and donate her proceeds to the Junior Livestock Association. (Courtesy photo)

“Anyone can bring exhibits to the exhibit buildings,” she said. “There is open class as well as 4-H. Pick up a copy of the fair book and bring your stuff in for registration from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.”

There will be an abundance of activity outside of the still exhibit buildings as well. Highlights for the fair will include harness racing and celebrity harness racing at 6:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, respectively; kids pedal pull at 1 p.m. on Wednesday; and a demolition derby at 7 p.m. on Saturday, among many other events and activities.

The fair comes to a close on Saturday, July 14.

For a complete list of events and times, visit mecostafreefair.com or pick up a Mecosta County Agricultural Free Fair booklet at a local business.

Fair fun will continue after the animals leave the arena each day as truck and tractor pulls, a rodeo, harness racing and more are set for each evening at the fairgrounds. (Pioneer file photo)

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Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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