CHESANING TWP. — Organizers said they were heartbroken to cancel this year’s Saginaw County Fair due to COVID-19 — but that doesn’t mean the show won’t go on.

It will just be a different kind of show. From 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 7-8 (Friday and Saturday), the Saginaw County Fair board is introducing “It’s a Market AfFair!” at the fairgrounds, 11350 Peet Road, featuring food, music, a flea market, and horse and wagon rides.

Everything will take place in accordance with the latest governor’s executive order, meaning face masks will be required indoors and encouraged outside, and social distancing rules will be firmly in place.

“We’re doing our best to keep everybody safe, but still able to enjoy the fairgrounds. We’re keeping the spirit alive,” fair board Executive Director Rachael Wirostek said. “We want to give people the joy of something fun to do.”

It’s a Market AfFair! isn’t the first effort made to keep the fair crowd happy despite no fair. During two weekends in May, folks were invited a food wagon drive-thru in fairgrounds parking lot.

People waited in cars for hours just to dig into an elephant’s ear or panini, Wirostek said, prompting organizers to bring the wagons back for It’s a Market AfFair!

For the upcoming event, the state’s subsequent reducing of restrictions means people will be able to walk up (while maintaining a distance from others) to seven food wagons. Sutton Concessions will serve up Italian sausage, and steak and butterfuly chips from two wagons.

A new vendor, Evergreen Concessions, will make elephant ears. Cowboy Cuisine will offer a variety of food, including sandwiches and paninis. Genovese Concessions will serve Italian ice. Leaman’s Green Apple Barn will concoct apple slushies, while Sweet Pop Kettle Corn will offer … kettle corn.

Food is just for starters. People are invited to spread blankets or set up chairs under shade trees or a gazebo, munch on food and listen to live music playing under a nearby pavilion.

Violinist Cami Aiello will perform from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Aug. 7 and Aug. 8. Trent Urbiatis will play polka music from 3 to 5 p.m. Aug. 7, followed by variety band Stix & Stone playing from 6 to 9 p.m.

More polka music is set for 3 to 5 p.m. Aug. 8. Southern and classic rock/country band Haywire will take the stage from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 8.

An indoor/outdoor flea market will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug 7 and Aug. 8. The 30 participating vendors will be spread out inside the large, 100-by-250-foot exhibit hall. Masks will be required and only 100 people can be inside the hall at one time.

“A few of the vendors will be outside, too,” Wirostek said. “It’s a nice way to shop.”

Some vendors will be kids who weren’t able to exhibit their goods at this year’s fair. It’s a Market AfFair gives them the opportunity to sell those goods.

At the open-air arena Aug. 7, the Mid-Michigan Carriage Company will offer horse and wagon rides. Participants can sit directly on a horse that will be led around the arena. There will also be wagon rides throughout the fairgrounds, with wagons getting sanitized after each ride. Horse rides are $5.

There’s even more. A farmer’s market will run from 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 7. Flea market vendors are still sought. Anyone interested can find out more by dropping by or calling the fair office at (989) 845-2143 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday or Wednesday, or emailing saginawfair@yahoo.com.

Attendees of It’s a Market AfFair will park in the main lot and enter the fairgrounds through the main gate. Admission is free, but those who wish can drop a parking donation into a bucket.

The Saginaw County Sheriff’s Posse will be on hand to patrol the grounds from 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 7 and Aug. 8.

“This offers a safe opportunity for people to gather, and come out and have some fun,” fair board President Patricia Copes said. “Everyone’s so disappointed by the cancellation of the fair because of COVID-19, and with food, music, horse rides, a flea market and farmer’s market, there’s fun for everybody.”

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