Ionia Free Fair returns after 2020 cancelation

Ionia County

IONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — The Ionia Free Fair got underway Friday with thousands of people in attendance. 

“I think it’s amazing, really brings community together,” said Aden Smith, who plans on being in attendance every day during the nine-day fair. “A lot of our friends are in town here, amazing thing.”

COVID-19 cancelled last year’s fair. 

“Definitely weird, unnatural,” says Emma Kapp, who was crowned as the queen of this year’s fair. “Now that we get it back, feels like we didn’t even miss a year.”

With COVID-19 still being a health issue, fair organizers are doing their best to prioritize cleanliness. 

“Encouraging people as much as we can — assemblance of social distance within groups,” says Raul Alvarez, a fair spokesperson. “Look at every ride, there are sanitation stations, trying to be cognizant.”

Justin and Ellen Ogden grew up in the area, and enjoy passing on their love of the fair to their kids Jaice and Aubrey, who were happy to go down slides repeatedly. 

“They’ve been on it at least 40 times,” Ellen said. 

“Won’t stop going on it,” Justin added. 

The Ogdens weren’t worried about the large number of people in attendance. 

“As long as we practice as safe distance and as much sanitary things we can do, I think we’ll be okay,” Ellen added. 

The rides at the fair are set up by Arnold Amusement, Inc. Last week, one of the company’s rides at the Cherry Festival in Traverse City malfunctioned and made national news. No one was hurt in the incident.

Alvarez says fair organizers trust the company. The fair has worked with Arnold Amusements, Inc. for ten years. 

“The fact that Arnold’s took swift action dismantling ride right away, sending it to the company for them to investigate and inspect what happened, and also we were able to confirm, talking to Arnold and state, that they are up to compliance with all the safety regulations that the state requires.”

Despite the COVID-19 and ride safety concerns, Alvarez says interest in the fair is high. 

“The fair’s (web)site crashed from 10 to midnight last night,” Alvarez said. “Midnight was deadline to get advanced ticket sales.”

The fair will run through Saturday, July 24. 

For more information, tickets and events, you can head to ioniafreefair.com.

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