The 102nd annual Vilas County Fair will be held in Eagle River Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 9-12, offering midway rides, exhibits and entertainment.

Fair board members are excited about the annual event which they say offers a variety of family-friendly activities for all ages.

“Grab your spouse, kids, parents, brothers and sisters and even that guy you see walking down the street,” said Vilas County Fair board of directors President Dale Ayers. “Tell everyone the fair is coming to town.

“Every year there are a lot of people behind the scenes who do a great job of bringing this thing together. We hope everyone who comes out enjoys themselves.”

The fair will open Thursday with Calkins United Shows LLC providing the rides and carnival foods.

The group takes over for Calkins Midway Inc. which for many years operated the midway rides.

“We’d like to extend a sincere thank you to Chuck and Lynn of Calkins Midway for all the great years we had together,” Ayers said. “With that we’d like to welcome new owners, Jeff and Barb, to Vilas County in anticipation of a great partnership for many years to come.”

The midway will open Thursday at 5 p.m. Judging for perishables such as flowers, vegetables and baked goods will begin at 7 p.m.

Fireworks will be displayed over the grounds Friday at dusk courtesy of General Beer Northwoods of Eagle River.

Midway rides and concessions will open at noon Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Ride wristband specials will be offered Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. for $20. The wristbands will provide unlimited rides for all ages for one price. 

Saturday’s wristband special will run from noon to 10 p.m. for $25. Those who donate two nonperishable food items will receive $2 off wristbands.

There will be live music all four days on the WRJO Radio Bandstand. Refuse To Rust plays Thursday, 6 to 11 p.m.; Old Pine Road Band Friday, 7 to 11 p.m.; 2 Miles South Saturday, 7 to 11 p.m; and Taylor Bolte Sunday, 3 to 5 p.m. followed by Diamond Pepper, 5 to 7 p.m.

Children’s games will be held Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. Ribbons will be awarded to the winners of the vegetable races, watermelon eating contest, water balloon toss and gunnysack races. Open class and junior exhibits will be judged Saturday starting at 9 a.m. Hundreds of individual and class projects entered by area schoolchildren will be on display.

Cassidy’s Critters Petting Zoo, pony rides, camel rides and photos with monkeys, face painting and many other children’s activities will be available throughout the weekend.

Poultry and rabbits can be visited in the barn west of the Exhibit Building. The annual horseshoe tournament will be held Saturday and Sunday.

Ice cream will be for sale at the 4-H Club booth all weekend. Sixel’s Martial Arts will be offering demonstrations all weekend along with a sumo wrestling ring for the public to try.

New this year will be the American Legion Post 114 cornhole-toss tournament beginning Saturday at 4 p.m. Interested teams can sign up in advance at the Legion hall located across from the fairgrounds on Highway 70.

The Lena Mini & Modified Tractor Pullers Association Inc. will be at the fair Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m.

Gate admission to the fair will be free. Parking on the fairgrounds will be provided for $5 per vehicle.

The Phelps-Land O’ Lakes Lions Club will be coordinating parking this year on the grounds.

For more information about the fair, call (715) 479-2057 or visit vilas­county­