The 2023 Kent County Youth Fair is a wrap, and it was a year of change for the 89-year old event. This year’s fair took place at new fairgrounds on Cascade Road in Lowell Charter Township and occurred a week earlier than normal. The change in dates was made to avoid conflicting with school activities, such as sports practices, which now begin early in August.
If you missed the fair and are wondering what the new fairgrounds look like, this Scenes from Lowell is for you.
The new fairgrounds are located at what is officially known as The Grand Agricultural Center of West Michigan, on the site of the former Deer Run Golf Course. Traffic enters and exits from Cascade Road.
There was a large dirt lot for parking although the spaces designated for handicap parking were paved.
When walking onto the fairgrounds, the first thing you see is Ruthie, the Country Fresh cow. She has a prime viewing spot for the live entertainment tent, which also hosted performing arts exhibits and a talent show.
Across from the tent were vendors selling all sorts of fair food.
The first barn you come to holds still exhibits in the front…
…and poultry in the back.
Along with the award-winning chickens, ducks and turkeys, there were also rabbits and cavies here.
Poultry also continued along the side of the barn.
The next barn over houses the cows.
Many, many cows.
Near the barns were areas for exhibitors to clean and water their animals. However, the water wasn’t potable for humans. That will hopefully be available next year, along with indoor bathroom facilities. There were only portable toilets for 2023.
The exhibition barn was being used for a cornhole tournament at the time of our visit.
The pigs were in the next barn over.
Past all those barns was the horse arena.
And behind it were the horse barns.
Some highly decorated occupants could be found inside the barns.
Some horses were smaller than others.
Past the horse barns was the camping area, where many exhibitors and their families stayed for the week.
And here’s a look back at all the barns we just walked through as well as the horse arena.
You may remember the story of Joanna Link fundraising to name a barn after her uncle, who died tragically at age 10. The community rallied around her efforts, and here is the barn today.
In front of the barns were tents for the other animals on exhibit.
There was also an eating area…
…and vendor tents nearby.
While some people love the animals and live music, others attend the fair for its carnival. This year, the rides were by the parking area and provided by Anderson Midways.
There were old favorites like the Ferris wheel and new additions such as the Hurricane and Tornado.
Plus, the carnival had games and its own set of food options.
Don’t expect the fair to look exactly the same next year. There is a lot of open space, and the Kent County Youth Agricultural Association — the nonprofit that oversees the fair — plans to build an indoor arena and other amenities. That may mean the location of some attractions, such as the midway, could change.
At the end of a busy week, we imagine that exhibitors and volunteers alike were feeling a bit like this chicken and ready to take a nap.
We’ll see you again next year, Kent County Youth Fair!