Ionia Free Fair
The Ionia Free Fair, founded in 1915 by Ionia Mayor (and future Governor) Fred Green, celebrates 100 years of momentous carnival history this summer. Together Mayor Green and co-founder, Fred Chapman, began the journey to create what is now referred to as the World's Largest Free Fair. In August of 1915 the inaugural Free Fair was held featuring an automobile parade, horse races, airplane flights, balloon ascensions and parachute drops. The Midway included candy booths, ice-cream parlors, motion picture shows, merry-go-rounds and ten cent dances at the pavilion. Upwards of 20,000 people attended. The Fair's fame and prosperity withstood two World Wars and eventually attained a national reputation due to spectacular grandstand productions and concerts. In the early 1960s big name personalities were booked to attract literally millions of fair goers over the course of the next 40 years. Minnie Pearl, Al Hirt, Sonny and Cher, Roy Clark, Bobby Vinton, Johnny Cash, Barbara Mandrell, Kenny Rogers, The Beach Boys, George Burns, The Judds, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Toby Keith, Def Leppard and New Kids on The Block are just a sampling of the entertainers who once graced the grounds here in Ionia. Additionally, generations of farming families began bringing their animals to the fair and continue to share their expertise through local 4-H programs.The Ionia Free Fair isn't just one of Michigan's greatest and longest running outdoor events, it is a tradition. We proudly celebrate 100 years of making memories, bringing joy to countless families and continuing our quest to entertain the masses for 10 fun filled days every summer.
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