The secret to winning a ribbon at the Alcona County Fair isn't about growing the biggest pumpkin or raising the cutest lamb.
It's about paperwork. Register in advance or you can't compete, officials said.
Area residents and youth wanting to participate in livestock competitions must fill out forms this weekend and make sure they have proper health records, Doug Travis, this year's fair president, said. The hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 12-4 p.m. Sunday at the fairgrounds office at 854 Barlow Road, Lincoln.
Those who want to compete in homemaking classes, such as quilting, jam making and photography, have an extra weekend, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 3 and 12-4 p.m., Aug. 4 for entering any of the hundreds of classes in that competition, he said.
Forms also can be mailed in as long as they reach the fair organizers before the deadline, he said.
It's all in preparation for the five-day event Aug. 20-24, which draws approximately 15,000 visitors to the grounds, Travis said.
All of the information about the different classes, rules and activities can be found in the Alcona County Fair book, also known as a premium book, which is now available at county outlets, including Miller Feeds in Spruce, Alcona Motors in Lincoln, and the Alcona County Courthouse and chamber of commerce in Harrisville, organizers said.
In addition to classic county judging, visitors will be able to see a tractor parade, lumberjack program, motocross racing and a bump-and-run competition, according to the fair book.
On opening day, admission is free, Travis said.
"This year one of the things that we have added is (Smokey Bear's) birthday party in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service. The well-known fire prevention character will be 69, Travis said. "Many of his friends are also showing up, and there will be cake and ice cream, games and prizes. It's just a good time."
More than 30 volunteers put on the event, now in its 42nd year, he said.
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.