By Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Harvey has been a part of planning the Manchester Community Fair for over 20 years and this year, for the first time, he was in charge.
2017 marked the 73rd year of the Fair, but the first for Harvey as President of the Fair Board.
The Fair kicked off on Tuesday with a parade that went through downtown Manchester and circled back to the fairgrounds.
That parade included the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, local fire department, the Fair Queen candidates, local organizations and businesses, classic cars, classic trucks and more.
The theme of the parade and the Fair was to celebrate Manchester’s upcoming Sesquicentennial celebration, which takes place next month August 1-8.
This year, Harvey had two goals, to help bring children back to appreciating agriculture and to get the Fair on par with the famous Manchester Chicken Broil.
One new Fair attraction to help attract children was the River Raisin Farm Fest which was located right by the front gates when you walked in. The River Raisin Farm Fest was designed as a hands on agricultural exhibit for children to learn the compete agricultural cycle from farm to table.
“We’re trying to promote agriculture,” said Harvey. “The kids are getting so far removed from the farm, here’s the chance to get them some exposure to agriculture. It’s to help show them it’s out there, what they may or may not know about and to help close that gap down a little bit.”
In addition to the River Raisin exhibit there was a tent with livestock that included steers, lambs and pigs. All of the animals in the livestock tent are tended to and raised by kids in the community, ranging from 12th grade and younger.
In addition to giving children a look at local agriculture, Harvey wants to get the Fair as well known as the Chicken Broil.
“That’s one of my goals as the leader is to try and get the Fair more common. When someone says Manchester I want people to say ‘Oh the Fair?’”, said Harvey. “I was a kid involved with the exhibit building we had a tent, now we have a whole building. So we’re growing things. It’s nothing against the Chicken Broil, the proceeds do a lot for the community, but sometimes we get put on the backburner because everybody knows about the Chicken Broil because they get so many people in that one day.”
Two of the bigger events were on the later days of the Fair. The Lost Nation Rodeo Company performed Thursday and Friday and the USA Demolition Derby capped the Fair on Saturday night.
The Rodeo had been coming to the Fair for a few years but the Demolition Derby was a new addition this year. The Fair board has tried in the past but logistical issues kept it from happening.
The Fair board schedules new attractions every year to keep past Fair-goers coming back as well as attracting newcomers to the Fair. The Demolition Derby was run by USA Demolition Derby and had a figure eight race with different heats of cars as well as the traditional Derby with trucks at the end of the night.
The new event turned out to be a huge success, the stands were packed before the Derby began at 7:30 p.m. and there was standing room only until it ended around 10 p.m..