Oakland County’s summer fair has been held since the 1860s, known as the 4-H Fair for years in reference to the youth organization. But now, anyone can participate, and organizers behind the 2019 edition, held from July 5 to 14, expect to draw 100,000 attendees to Springfield Oaks County Park in Davisburg, its home for almost 50 years.
But that doesn’t mean the fair’s forgotten its roots.
L.C. Scramlin, the fair’s general manager, says that while new elements have been added, the event still has all the trappings of a traditional county fair. In fact, one of the most popular attractions is the Miracle of Birth exhibit.
“Everything that happens in life happens here at the fair.” — L.C. Scramlin, Oakland Co. Fair
“We’ve got sows lined up, cows lined up, goats lined up and baby chicks to be born,” Scramlin says. A lifelong farmer himself, he says even today’s tech-savvy youngsters want to know where their food comes from, and that their parents want them to have some exposure to farming. As always, many of the fair’s exhibitors are local kids, albeit suburban ones.
“Most of them aren’t really farm kids, most of them are doing it on a small scale, maybe only raising a couple of pigs once a year,” Scramlin says. “But they have a great perspective to share with people.”
What: The Oakland County Fair
When: July 5-14, 2019
Where: Springfield Oaks Co. Park, 12451 Andersonville Rd., Davisburg, MI
Drag racing, monster truck rallies and corn dogs
Scramlin and his staff — with the help of a lot of volunteers — work pretty much year-round to update the fair and make it attractive to young people. New events are added each year, such as drag racing and monster truck shows in the grandstand and expanding the categories in which kids can enter their projects and compete for ribbons. These include science, technology, modern culture and photography.
“They still do cooking and sewing, but it’s amazing some of the new projects we add every year,” Scramlin says. “As kids get into new things, we keep adding them here as competitions.”
This year’s fair includes three daily condor flight shows featuring Joe “The Birdman” Krathwohl, five daily pig races, carnival games, rides, and, of course, fair staples such as corn dogs and elephant ears.
Scramlin has been involved in the Oakland County Fair for most of his life. He says he was recently elected to the national 4-H Hall of Fame. But it’s not the fame or notoriety among his peers that motivates him. It’s getting re-acquainted with adults who return to the fair where they once showed their animals, crafts and other projects as kids. Some of those he’ll see this year have grown up to be doctors or veterinarians, while others joined service groups such as the Peace Corps.
“It seems like so many of them have jobs that are helping and adding to society, and it’s a great reward.”
Click on the audio player above to hear WDET’s Pat Batcheller interview Oakland County Fair General Manager L.C. Scramlin.