July 03, 2013 - When crowds fill Springfield Oaks for the Oakland County Fair later this week, the Ervin family of Brandon Township will be there with something new.
From left, siblings Shannon, Nathan, and Ryan Ervin are ready to compete at the Oakland Fair with their Red Ranger chickens. Photo by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
"Red Rangers – a new kind of meat chicken for us," said 4-H'er Shannon Ervin, 16, who will compete in several categories at the fair along with her brothers Nathan, 14, and Ryan, 9. "It's a more natural breed. We usually go with White Giants, so these guys are different this year."
Four-H'ers raise the birds for eight weeks for the fair, then auction them off at the Small Animal Auction, 6:30 p.m., July 12.
"They're free range – we try to make their lives the best possible," Shannon said.
Her entries also include horses, rabbits, and turkey, as well as public speaking, jewelry, and cupcake decoration.
Nathan's entries include duck, turkey, and cake decorating, in which he may be going up against his sister.
"A little family competition," Shannon said.
Entries for Ryan, in his first fair, include turkey, chicken, public speaking, presenting a Knut Rockne speech, and his Hot Wheels collection.
They hope the chickens go for at least $8 a pound.
"Last year was crazy – my sister's turkey went for $1,000," Shannon said.
Auction goers aren't there for a good deal, she said.
"They're there to support 4H – it's like donations and sponsoring the new farmers of America," said Shannon.
She joined 4-H when she was 8 years old, participating in several clubs and fairs.
"Four-H has become a big part of my life," she said.
"It's a big commitment – it teaches responsibility," said Michelle Ervin, their mother.
Oakland County Fair opens this week
The Oakland County Fair at Springfield Oaks County Park in Davisburg offers 11 days of fun beginning at 1 p.m. on July 4 through 9 p.m. on July 14.
Free events featured daily include a circus, petting zoo, motorcycle show, sensory wall, horse shows and antique tractor display. Other attractions include a midway with carnival rides, free country music concert and exhibits ranging from aerospace to woodworking. Visitors can stroll through many barns to see horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, rabbits and more. Newborn animals in the Miracle of Birth Barn are a visitor favorite. Food concessions and a picnic pavilion are also available.
"As a presenting sponsor, Oakland County Parks and Recreation is very excited that the fair has been extended to 11 days," said Executive Officer Dan Stencil.
The fair grand opening begins at 1 p.m. Thursday, July 4. Carnival rides are discounted: $10 armbands valid from 1-4 p.m. or $15 armbands valid all day, plus fireworks at dusk.
Toddler Day is Friday, July 5, with $7 armbands available for young children, valid from 1-4 p.m. Activities include a diaper derby, a "Food for Fun" canned food drive, tricycle and piggy bank races and, from 6-7 p.m., a visit from PAWS, the Detroit Tigers Mascot.
Armed Forces Day on Saturday, July 6 honors veteran and active military personnel (proper identification required) with free admission to the fair grounds and Figure 8 car races that night.
Monday, July 8, is Senior Day with free admission for seniors ages 62 and over from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Detroit's Country 99.5 WYCD radio will host Nashville in the Neighborhood, a free concert at 7 p.m. sponsored by Genisys Credit Union and the Oakland County Fair Association. The concert features up-and-coming country music artists Eric Paslay and Kris Hitchcock & Small Town Son at the fairground's grandstand. Gates open at 6 p.m. for first-come, first-served seating.
Tuesday, July 9, is Playworld Carnival Day with $12 armbands for carnival rides.
Kids Day is Wednesday, July 10, with special activities planned for youth.
Thursday, July 11, is Oakland County Parks and Recreation Day and Special Needs Day. Parking is free this day with a 2013 Oakland County Parks and Recreation annual vehicle permit. Oakland County Parks and Recreation mobile recreation units will also be available. Children with special needs and their caregiver can enjoy a free circus show and free carnival rides from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Families need to call the fair office in advance to register.
Sunday, July 14, is Family Fun Day. Present a paid parking mirror tag from a previous visit to the 2013 fair to receive free parking. Other special evening events include an off-road demo, rodeo, Michigan Monster Truck Shootout, Firefighters Muster and Antique Fire Truck show.
Fair parking is $10/car or $5/person/walk-in visitors. A Grandstand Event Pass is a great deal at $20/person; includes admission to all of the nightly grandstand events. Individual grandstand event tickets are $10/person ages 15 and older; $5/child ages 6-14; or free for children under five years old. Tickets and armbands for the carnival rides are available at an additional cost.
For details, call 248-634-8830, visit oakfair.org or DestinationOakland.com.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.