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By Carol Stiffler

The annual Luce-West Mackinac County Fair is nearing, and event organizers have big plans for budget-friendly entertainment for the whole family.

It’s the first fair in two years, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced all plans to be canceled last summer.

Karen Hins, president of the Luce-West Mackinac County Fair Board, said much of the fair will be free this year, once the $5 per carload admission has been paid.

Hins sees the fair as an antidote to our technology-driven lifestyle, because it brings us back to the earth – literally.

“There are myths about farms, and animals,” Hins said. “The only way to undo a myth is to see the reality of the animals. And talk about it. … It takes all these experiences to give a person a balanced outlook on life.”

Although this year’s fair is very low in cost, it plans to offer a lot. The generosity is possible after the fair received support from local businesses, organizations, and people.

Included in what’s free – and almost everything is free – is the petting zoo, which is available from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. The Mackinac Pony Company is bringing the petting zoo and some inflatable toys to dazzle anyone young or adventuresome enough to try them.

The Saturday evening Bump N Run Derby always draws a crowd, Hins said, and had about 180 drivers two years ago.

The exhibit building will show creations and collections from around the area, including places just outside Luce and Mackinac county lines. It’s free to exhibit homemade items or collections, which can range from bread or jam to LEGO builds or robots.

“If someone brings something that we don’t have a category for, we make a category for it,” Hins said.

New this year is the addition of free Dial-a-Ride drop off and pick ups for senior citizens on Saturday, Hins said. Senior citizens can call Dial-a-Ride and request to be picked up at 11, noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., or 3 p.m. Trips from the fair will leave every half hour.

The free rides coincide with the day the fair will host Bingo, a digital photo treasure hunt, and the band Kickin’ Country.

For a full schedule of events, see the ad on page 3, or visit lucewestmackfair.com/events.

But Hins and fellow organizers are still looking for additional volunteers before and during the fair. They need help prepping the grounds, including repairing the fence, mowing the lawn, and more.

“We need things like sawdust,” Hins said. “We need people to run children’s games.”

Anyone who can help should call or text Hins at 984-209-8253 as soon as possible.

“We’ll take all the help we can get,” she said.

The existence of the fair itself has been in danger for two or three decades, Hins said.

“We have had ups and downs and people come and go,” she said. “It’s difficult to get people to pull together for a fair when they are limited in their understanding of what the whole fair is.”