When the temperature rises and school lets out, that means one thing — Michigan state fair season! Michigan is widely known as one of the best places to attend county and state fairs, which draw hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
In fact, the state has some of the oldest continually occurring fairs in the country, many of which are nearing their bicentennials. If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned pie-baking competition, carnival rides, and some fairground foods, these are the best places in Michigan to visit this summer.
JULY FAIRS IN MICHIGAN
The Gladwin County Fair has been an annual event since 1909. The event kicks off in mid-July with a parade and livestock showcase, as well as tractor pulls.
You’ll find attractions both old and new here, from go-kart racing and carnival rides to home baking competitions with blue ribbon prizes. You can check out the Gladwin Farmers Market while you’re in town as well.
The Arenac County Fair kicks off every year in mid-July and features a unique theme. This is undoubtedly a country event, with attractions such as a rodeo, a demo derby, livestock showings, and even mud volleyball.
But there are also plenty of classic fair events — food, live entertainment, rides, and more. And, you could visit the Standish Historical Depot to learn about the city’s rich history.
The Ionia Free Fair is a grand, 10-day event taking place in mid-July. It takes the classic county fair to a whole new level, featuring a parade, a queen pageant, live entertainment by well-known country stars, and animal shows. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Michigan county fair without rides, games, and great food too.
The Eaton County Fair takes place every July in Charlotte Michigan. This family-friendly event brings together old and new attractions so that there is something for everyone.
You’ll find everything from carnival rides and games to livestock shows, tractor pulls, horse races, and more. Multi-day passes are available if you want to attend more than one day.
The Menominee County Fair has a huge variety of activities and events. You’ll find classic fair attractions, including livestock shows, rides, and activities like scavenger hunts for kids. Adults will enjoy the fair’s food and wine tasting and many other attractions over three days in mid-July.
The Lenawee County Fair kicks off in the last week of July in Adrian Michigan. It has a claim to fame as Michigan’s longest-running county fair, having first been held in 1839! The fair includes a huge number of events, including livestock, horticulture, crafting contests, shows, games, rides, and more.
The Barry County Fair has been a massive annual event in Hastings Michigan since the 1850s. It continues to be a huge undertaking in July, with attractions for visitors of every age.
Highlights include youth-judged animal and craft contests, dressage, science activities, live entertainment, barrel racing, and even a livestock fashion show.
The St. Clair County 4-H & Youth Fair takes place every July in Goodells Michigan. This fair has a huge number of events — from livestock shows to dressage competitions, beekeeping contests, and archery shows. Like any good county fair, it has food, crafts, games, and rides aplenty.
The Ottawa County Fair is an annual July event in Holland Michigan. This four-day event draws visitors from all around the region, and kids under the age of 12 get in for free.
In addition to carnival rides and classic fair activities, there are monster truck shows, mud runs, and even a rodeo. Plus, you’ll find tons more things to do in Holland.
The last week of July heralds the start of the Eastern Michigan State Fair in Imlay City. This is one of the most popular during the state fair season, drawing thousands of visitors every year.
It has countless events of every kind. Admission includes unlimited carnival rides and access to the petting zoo, live entertainment, and much more.
The Van Buren Youth Fair is a four-day event in mid-July, taking place in the town of Hartford Michigan. This fair offers some truly unique events — from tethered balloon rides to drag racing and a nighttime demolition derby. The carnival opens every day at 3 p.m. with unlimited access with admission.
The Osceola County 4-H & FFA Fair takes place every July in Evart Michigan. Though many aspects of it are uniquely geared toward young people, there is something for everyone at this fun county fair.
Highlights include livestock shows, tractor pulls, AG Olympics, rides, games, and live entertainment for all ages.
The Monroe County Fair begins during the last few days of July and continues into the first week of August every year. The fair includes carnival rides and unique live entertainment by both local and widely-known performers.
There are special admission days throughout the week for ladies, children, veterans, and seniors. And if you love hot dogs, you may regret not grabbing one at Monroe’s Original Hot Dog Drive-in.
AUGUST FAIRS IN MICHIGAN
Calhoun County Fair
Michigan’s Longest Continual Running County Fair (since 1848!), the Calhoun County Fair draws crowds from across southcentral Michigan to its home in the historic town of Marshall. With 4H elements, a midway, grandstand performances, vendors, and more, it’s a must-experience event each summer.
The Kent County Youth Fair is an annual event in early August that’s held in Lowell Michigan. This has been a regional event for nearly a century. There are a huge number of competitions — most geared toward young people — from youth dressage to youth needlework, horticulture, and tractor pulling.
The Marquette County Fair takes place in Gwinn Michigan in mid-August. This three-day event is one of the most popular county fairs in the Upper Peninsula.
It features all the Michigan county fair classics, including rides, games, and livestock and equine shows. There is also live entertainment and a petting zoo.
The Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba Michigan is, without a doubt, one of the biggest annual attractions in Michigan. Taking place every August, this Michigan state fair has been in practice for nearly a century.
There are events of every kind imaginable — from livestock shows to live entertainment, carnival rides, beauty pageants, and much, much more. And while you’re in Escanaba, you could explore Ludington Park.
The Houghton County Fair is an annual August event taking place in Hancock Michigan. As many as 25,000 people visit this Michigan county fair every year.
It has all the classic events and entertainment along with unique attractions, like a petting zoo, a youth talent show, motocross, and a hay bale-decorating competition. In addition, you can explore activities in neighboring Houghton Michigan.
The Genesee County Fair is an annual event taking place in late August. It has been going on since 1850, making it one of the oldest county fairs in the country. Every day offers a new menu of events — from monster truck shows to rodeos, charity drives, and even live entertainment by major artists.
On top of that, you’ll find plenty of other things to keep you busy in nearby Flint Michigan.
The Bay County Fair & Youth Expo is one of the oldest county fairs in Michigan, having been an annual event since 1865.
There are some truly fun and unique attractions here — from petting zoos and pony rides to magic shows, exotic reptile shows, and woodcarving competitions — proof that the Bay County Fair is like no other.
The Newaygo County Agricultural Fair has been held every year in August since 1955. Essentially, it remains an agricultural event with attractions designed to highlight and promote rural living.
Crowds flock to the fairgrounds to see tractor races, live animal shows, and competitions in horticulture and home arts, as well as to enjoy classic fairground food.
The Iron County Fair takes place every August in Iron River Michigan. This unique Michigan county fair includes a 5k fun run, animal show-and-tell, a baby beauty pageant, a car show, a dance tent, and competitions galore (including the rather unusual fish grab).
Also, there are plenty of rides, food, and live entertainment, including a talent show.
The Cheboygan County Fair has been a vital part of the region for many years. Taking place in mid-August, this Michigan county fair features all the favorites and some unique events.
Visitors come here to enjoy one-of-a-kind competitions, carnival food, rides, live entertainment, animal shows, a rodeo, and truck mud runs.
The Chippewa County Fair takes place every August in Kinross Michigan and runs into the first week of September.
During this time, visitors from all over the state enjoy live concerts, carnival rides, classic fair food (with plenty of local treats), livestock shows, and one-of-a-kind entertainment from both local and far-away performers.
The Kalamazoo County Youth Fair is an annual August event with a unique focus on young people. That means that there are events and attractions of all kinds and for every age.
Each day offers unique shows, entertainment, and educational demonstrations for kids before culminating in a family-friendly festival for all ages. And, you can explore more to do in Kalamazoo Michigan while you’re here.
The Sanilac County Youth & 4-H Fair takes place every August in Sandusky Michigan (not to be confused with Sandusky Ohio). This fair truly has something for everyone, no matter their age or interest.
Events range from motocross to gospel performances with everything in between, including classic fair entertainment such as competitions and carnival rides. If you’re interested in uncovering history too, head to the nearby Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park.
The Ingham County Fair is an annual event taking place in August in Mason Michigan. The celebration kicks off at the end of July with a dollar day, meaning that admission is just a dollar for every visitor.
It has all the classic Michigan county fair entertainment you could ask for, as well as some unique attractions that you won’t see anywhere else.
The Jackson County Fair takes place every August in Jackson Michigan. Highlighted by the giant Ferris wheel, this fair draws visitors from all over the state from mid-morning to late in the evening.
The celebration includes classic entertainment — such as animal shows and competitions — as well as modern attractions — such as rides, concerts, and much more. And, you don’t want to miss the Bright Walls murals while you’re in Jackson.
The Northwestern Michigan State Fair is a massive event taking place in the first week of August. Its history goes back more than 100 years. You will find a huge variety of events and attractions, from a beauty pageant to livestock shows and classic carnival rides.
At its core, though, this state fair remains the classic agricultural farm that it was back in 1908. If you need more things to do after the fair, consider exploring all that Traverse City has to offer.
For many, the Michigan State Fair in Novi signals the end of summer and the fair season. Taking place from the end of August into the first week of September, this fair has some amazing events.
You’ll find everything going on from a butter-carving competition to a mobile zoo, arts and crafts, carnival rides, a nighttime beer festival, and live entertainment.
SEPTEMBER FAIRS IN MICHIGAN
The Allegan County Fair is one of Michigan’s latest county fairs of the year, taking place in mid-September. The fairgrounds are also the home of the Allegan Antiques Market.
Held every year since 1852, it has grown exponentially to include live entertainment from major artists, a parade, carnival rides, a rodeo, a demolition derby, and much more.
The Hillsdale County Fair is one of the latest county fairs in the state, opening the last week of September every year. Advertised as “the most popular fair on earth,” it has been occurring annually since 1851.
Each day of the fair has unique attractions and events — from live competitions to animal shows, one-of-a-kind performances, and of course, delicious food.
Celebrating Michigan State Fair & County Fair Season
Michigan state and county fairs usually run from midsummer to early fall, so you will have plenty of time to hit the fairgrounds. The offerings range from old-fashioned, farm-themed competitions to modern celebrations with world-famous entertainers.
No matter what you’re looking for, you are bound to find a classic county fair experience at one of these Michigan venues. And if you can’t get enough festivities, you’ll find more summer festivals, music festivals, and balloon festivals throughout the state.