NORWAY, Mich. (WZMQ) – The Dickinson County Fair has officially opened, and it’s commencing with a moment of tranquility. In an effort to make the fair more accessible to all families, organizers have introduced what they’re calling ‘Au-Some Friends of the Fair.’
This year, during an invitation-only two-hour quiet period, children with sensory disorders like autism can explore animals and displays in a subdued environment that includes rides, games, and food.
Fair board president John DeGenaer Jr. stated, “We wanted to get it organized, get it running, and then next year we’re going to open it up probably for more people. We’re excited to see it go, and just the joy on those kids’ faces is gonna be the answer to us, so.”
In partnership with the Skerbeck Family Carnival, the fair is keeping the crowds at bay and turning off the flashing lights to create a more sensory-friendly experience. Carly Vertz, the Marketing director, and office manager of Skerbeck Family Carnival, explained, “The fireball, by nature, is a very loud ride. And that can be kind of alarming for some of our guests that have those noise-sensory issues. So oftentimes that’s just something that we opt to not run for some of our friends that are with us today.”
Approximately 15 families are participating, and the gates are closed to the public during the allotted time. Participants are receiving a special gift: T-shirts that reflect just how awesome these kids are, and the kids get to pick their favorite color shirt.
Brooke Fellner, the mother of ten-year-old Zander Leet, expressed, “It’s a great opportunity for people with special needs, especially because they don’t generally get to. Like, it’s not something that people consider. A lot of kids are sensitive to sound and have sensory problems, and they can’t come out and enjoy it, so it gives them a few hours of time to be able to.”
If there is enough interest among families, the fair board will be seeking sponsorship to keep ‘Au-Some Friends of the Fair’ a permanent fixture in the lineup.
The Dickinson County Fair runs through September fourth, with a Senior Day on September 5th.
For more information about this year’s Dickinson County Fair, visit: