A traditional attraction at the fair is the farm animals. Two major contributing organizations are the Future Farmers of America and 4-H.
The Ingham County Fair focuses on tradition. There is still the original competition, like the old days. People still want to show off their animals, vegetables, and bake goods.
This year, the rain really put a damper on the initial preparation for the show animals. “It has been such a problem this year,” said Happy hustlers 4-H member A. Minder. “We weren’t able to set up any of the stuff until Sunday, which is when we bring in the animals.” Traditionally, the equipment is set up Friday and Saturday.
Many of the FFA and 4-H members show their animals. “My Brother has shown pigs since 2005. It’s a lot of fun and I recommend anyone that can, to do it,” exclaimed Happy Hustler supporter Madison Watters.
The Mason FFA Circle of Life demonstration volunteers provide information to the visitors regarding “different animal products and how things work with babies,” explained Shelly Bagley, a Mason resident.
This demonstration allows visitors to watch chicks being hatched, “then they just have to dry off… and all the sudden they’re furry,” and able to be pet, said Bagley. There are also mother and baby goats, cows, bunnies, and pigs. “The sow with the babies came in this afternoon, so that’s been very exciting.”
The fair can be more than just a fun place to bring your family only once a year; for Carly Skerbeck, it’s been a personal playground.
The Skerbecks have been in the carnival business since 1857, the year Frank Skerbeck decided to sell his linen factory in Aussig, Bohemia and buy a circus. Skerbeck eventually immigrated to the United States with his family and they toured all over the Great Lakes region as a circus. His family would later turn their circus into a carnival that underwent several name changes; now they are simply known as Skerbank Carnival.
Each year, fifth generation family members who own the three concessions and multitude of rides set up on the fair grounds of Mason, Cheboygan, Harrison, and Corunna, Mi from April to September. Carly Skerbeck, the current owner’s daughter, says she’s been involved in their carnival all her life.
“Instead of going to the playground down the road, where they only had swings and a slide, I woke up and had an entire carnival, which was a lot of fun to grow up in,” Skerbeck said. Skerbeck currently works full time and does mostly office work, but some of her other jobs have included working concessions. Skerbeck says one of her brothers is the general manager, and an uncle and cousins run their other carnival unit that is open concurrently.
“We really like playing the Ingham County Fair; it’s a lot of fun,” Skerbeck said.
Jason Graffeo and family know the Skerbecks and have also been a part of the Ingham County Fair, selling various foods at their independent concessions for the past 11 years.
“It’s fun; you meet new people, have a good time…good food, and fun at the fair,” Graffeo said. Graffeo says he believes so many people still continue to come to the fair because of the exciting atmosphere.
“We only come around once a year, everybody’s got to have fun at least one time a year.”
The Ingham County Fair is located on 700 E Ash St in Mason, Mi and runs for six days. For more information about the Ingham County Fair, visit www.ingham.org. For more information about Skerbeck Carnival and their history, visit www.skerbeck.com.
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Click to view The Skerbeck’s Carnival Locations in a larger map.