The Kent County Youth Fair (KCYF) began 84 years ago in 1935. Early decades saw a focus on 4-H, however in 1984 the official name of the event changed from the Kent County 4-H Youth Fair by dropping the 4-H portion. The intent was to provide opportunities to all youth and not just those involved with 4-H clubs. The theme for this year’s fair is the Dog Days of Summer with a week full of events for people of all ages, with a focus on showcasing kids August 5-10.
The official kick off to the fair take place beginning at 6:30pm with Opening Ceremonies and the Royal Court Coronation. But if you’re looking for some food beforehand, there will be a BBQ dinner on Sunday, August 4 from 4:30pm-6pm with proceeds from the meal going into the fair’s general fund.
With so much to do at the fair, check out the online schedule for the full list of events. Each day also has a theme with event surrounding it. Monday is Heroes Day where active military, veterans, fire, police and EMTs can park free after showing ID at the gate. Tuesday is Ag Adventure Day and visitors are encouraged to check out the hands-on learning at the agricultural learning barn. Wednesday’s theme is Reading for Rides Day, which was previously on Tuesday. Download and fill out the reading log (available until Tuesday Aug. 6 at 9pm) and kids up to age 12 can ride free from noon until 4. Thursday is Auction Day. Come out and support kids who have raised animals which will be put up for auction. Check our article from last year about one family who raised pigs and cows. Friday brings Handicapable Day offering those with special needs a free lunch and rides opportunity. Saturday will end the fair with Kids Day with special events such as a Princess Tea Party, ice cream social, and ultimate frisbee taking place throughout the day.
A special preview of Country Musicwill take place Friday, Aug. 9. This new series will debut in September on PBS. During the preview a pair of tickets will be given away to see Willie Nelson at the Van Andel Arena.
This year’s lumberjack show is sure to entertain and impress. The Great Lakes Timber show will run daily at 1pm, 4pm, and 7pm throughout the week at the south entrance to the fair. The show will include log-rolling, speed saw, axe throwing, and more.
Ninjas on the Move will be back again this year. The full-scale course will be open 4pm-8pm Monday through Friday and Saturday 2pm-9pm. Kids and adults are invited to try out the course.
And it wouldn’t be fair week without carnival rides and food! Both will be offered throughout the week. And while you’re taking a break, be sure to check out the daily entertainment. Other fair favorites will be back, including the barnyard petting zoo, costume classes for some of the animals, displays in the King Building, and of course all of the showings of various animals which kids have worked hard to raise and prepare for.
This year’s Dog Days of Summer theme was selected last fall. Typically, ideas from the public are gathered and each November the advertising/marketing committee select the top three or four which are then voted upon by the board.
While the fair continues to operate at Recreation Park, the organization is still working on making the move to their new property. It is anticipated that the first fair at the new location will be in 2021.
A week of fun, entertainment, and education is set to start. Months and even years of hard work for numerous youth comes to fruition during fair week. It’s a time to celebrate success and all that was learned throughout the process. With so much going on each day, you’ll want to check out the full schedule to plan your week at the Kent County Youth Fair.