There is magic in the air at this summer’s Montcalm County Fair, starting with two new free exhibits that offer visitors both entertainment and education.
Many fairs offer free entertainment, and Fair Board treasurer Lisa Johnson said she has started “going hard on the ground” to host at least one exhibition for 2020. Then the fair was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, Johnson himself was visiting a butterfly house and knew it would be something that would appeal to Montcalm County’s carnival goers.
“I thought that was really neat,” she said.
“You will be here all week and people can visit more than once. I just think it will be something for the kids. “
Johnson installed Butterfly Effects from Spring Hill, Florida for this year’s show. Owner Ted Moss will bring his House of Butterflies to the fairgrounds, where visitors can see butterflies that are native to Michigan in a screened display area.
There are more than 750 different species of butterflies in the United States, and each state has certain species that are native to that area, Moss said. He’s careful to bring “the right species to the right state” when traveling with his exhibit, he said. “Otherwise it can mess up the food chain and lots of different things in the area.”
So in Montcalm County, visitors can expect to see the Eastern Monarch Butterfly, the Painted Lady, and various fritillary butterflies up close. Everyone who enters is also given a nectar-coated food stick to encourage the butterflies to come closer to viewing and taking photos.
The exhibition also includes videos explaining the butterfly’s life cycle. There is one that shows how to fix a monarch wing.
“Children come with a smile on their faces. But it’s not just kids – teenagers, seniors, all ages love it, ”said Moss. “Everyone has fun with it. You’re having a great time. ”
Moss started his business a few years ago when he saw something similar at another fair. He liked the idea, mostly because he knew that butterflies, like bees, are pollinators. He thought he could have a business and at the same time help the environment by keeping the butterfly population growing, he said.
“Butterflies seemed like a nice idea. We can release them and that will help keep the species alive, ”Moss said. “You contribute so much to the world. If we don’t have it, we’ll get into serious trouble. ”
Moss also has a butterfly set for sale at the exhibit for around $ 5. The set includes two caterpillars, a monarch and a painted lady – these are the easiest to grow at home, he said – and a food cup.
“You can watch the pupa grow and then release the butterflies,” he said.
For more information, visit The Butterfly Effects on Facebook at @ butterflyfx.events.
Another new show attraction this year is Wheels of Agriculture, an interactive farming knowledge game show for the whole family. Johnson said she was particularly intrigued by the topic because while many people recognize the importance of the Ag to the community, “some aren’t sure what’s growing out there”.
“The quiz game is a way to educate people,” she added.
Game show participants and viewers win points and prizes by answering randomly selected questions about local and state agriculture, animals, plants and crops, food groups, farm and barns, music and other sounds.
The Wheels of Agriculture stage features three shows daily from June 24th to 26th. The Trivia Tractor, a similar but smaller walking game show, brings the fun to other corners of the exhibition grounds with two mini shows per day.
Owner Tim Balster, who brings the show from his western Chicago suburb, said he is preparing for all ages of game show players. In the three rounds behind the stand, questions are asked for kindergarten children through to third graders, then fourth graders through to high school students, and then there is “a wildcard”.
“Sometimes it’s all parents or one parent and one child. In the audience you never know what you’re going to get, ”he said. “Another way to include all ages is for us to have an audience spin. Even a boy who wouldn’t be comfortable answering questions can have fun spinning the wheel. “
If attendees cannot answer a question, the audience has the opportunity to intervene.
“If we get blank looks, we can give multiple choice. Even if that doesn’t help them get it right, at some point we’ll get the right answer, ”said Balster, adding that the show also has lucky components. “Even if you’re in last place, you’re lucky to win.”
With a lifelong interest in magic, Balster made money as a magician and illusionist after college, doing shows in restaurants, theaters, fairs, festivals, and other venues. He spent many years at the show with KidBucks, an interactive, energetic game show at shows. After all, instead of doing action seasons, Balster wanted to do something that was fun but also included education, and the wheels of agriculture were born.
“People just enjoy the fact that all ages can participate, whether they’re spinning the wheel, answering questions, or standing in the crowd,” he said.
Balster said he believed that the people of Montcalm County might know more about agriculture than he does. Sounds like a challenge.
For more information, please visit www.wheelsofagriculture.com/ or on Facebook @WheelsofAgricultureGameShow.