CLINTON— The 66th annual Lions Agricultural Fair kicked off Thursday afternoon and drew a large crowd to the Clinton Fairgrounds to enjoy vendors, food and live entertainment.

Among the many attractions for fair-goers to enjoy were arts and crafts and 4-H exhibitions.

Paintings, photos and fabric works lined the walls of one exhibition hall while fruits, vegetables and agricultural presentations covered another.

Judy Redding, a Clinton resident who’s been volunteering for seven years, said people began entering their works on Tuesday and winners were chosen Thursday morning.

A quilt made by Valerie Cole won best in show for the arts and crafts exhibition and a display titled “Best Friends Vegetables” took home first place for the 4-H category.

According to Redding, she’s witnessed both the fair and the contest grow during her time as a volunteer.

“Every year it gets bigger and bigger,” Redding said. “It’s a lot of fun but it takes a lot of preparation to get ready for all the judging. But it’s amazing to see people come back year after year and it’s inspiring to see all of the families and all the work that goes into the fair. It’s really a family event.”

Redding also explained the bike raffle that occurs each night of the fair.

“Vendors, businesses, people of all kinds have donated bikes and each night six are given away,” Redding said. “It doesn’t cost anything to enter but every night at 8 o’clock six names are drawn in different categories and the bikes are given out.”

Fair-goers also got to enjoy a visit from the Hart to Hart Farm and Petting Zoo of Albion, which brought along chickens, turkeys, rabbits, goats, sheep and more for attendees to interact with and pet.

Twenty food vendors — ranging from hand-cut french fries to doughnuts to Thai food — were also open Thursday. Another 30 vendors were selling merchandise such as clothes, jewelry and makeup.

The fair will run for three more days and is expected to garner a turnout of 18,000 to 20,000 people, according to fair organizer Buddy Frost.

Friday is senior citizen day. Attendees over 62 get full access to the day’s lineup of events and entertainment for $3 per person and receive $1 off all full-course meals at the Lions Diner. A fireworks show is scheduled for 9:30 p.m.

The Clinton Lions Parade with its theme “All About Disney” is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Clinton Elementary School. The parade route will go down Cindy Blodgett Avenue and end on Main Street. Rides and vendors at the fairgrounds open at 11 a.m.

A magic show, apple pie contest, tractor pull and a dance performance will fill Sunday’s lineup, which runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The fair charges $5 for admission, but children under the age of 12 can enter for free. Parking at the fairgrounds is also free.

More information can be found on the fair website and a directory is available for any specific questions.

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