Enjoy mouth-watering, heart-stopping, bum-bruising fair favorites and spectator sports for the armchair adrenaline junkie at the Northwestern Michigan Fair on Aug. 6–12 in Grawn.

This article first appeared in Traverse Northern Michigan. Find this story and more when you explore our magazine library. Want Traverse delivered to your door or inbox monthly? View our print subscription and digital subscription options.

Blue-ribbon hogs, top-of-the-ferris-wheel smoochin’, giant grilled corn cobs dunked in a vat of liquified butter and served on sticks—there are so many must-see-do-and-eats at the annual Northwestern Michigan Fair that our checklist these days has more items than a Gibby’s bucket has fries.

One item at the tippity-top of our fave traditions? For at least a dozen years, Tough Truck has featured gutsy gals and guys driving as fast as they can around a sprint-sized dirt track chock full of sharp corners and jumps—the last one just before a mega-sized mud pit. Helmets are mandatory, neck braces recommended and race vehicles are the driver’s choice: big-wheeled jeeps, junkyard jalopies, Mom’s minivan and, unforgettably several years ago, a flawless Corvette driven by a man in the midst of a divorce. For real.

While finishing fastest is each competitor’s objective, finishing at all is a feat. Big-air crashes, airbag blowouts, sideways topples, full rollovers and the accidental ejection of vehicle parts—tires, bumpers, entire front-end panels, whathaveyou—are frequent and favorite crowd-pleasers whether racers motor across the finish line or a front-end loader carries them.

Car racing at Northwestern Michigan Fair

Photo by Northwestern Michigan Fair

As much as Tough Truck makes our hearts go pitter-pat, we can’t miss mentioning a more recent pulse-raiser to the fairground scene, the Super Kicker Rodeo, a bull-, bareback- and ranch-bronco-riding show of the caliber you’d expect to see in Cheyenne, Wyoming, not Grawn, Michigan. Hailing from Paris, Michigan, in fact, this fringe-filled production wows with both novice and experienced cowgirls and boys hanging on and flying off the backs of bucking and rearing steeds and beasts, plus equally wild roping and barrel-racing competitions. More drama per hour than “Yellowstone,” for far less than the cost of a streaming subscription.

Tickets to Tough Truck (7 p.m. Aug. 10) and Super Kicker (7 p.m. Aug. 12) are $5 per child ages 3–12, $12 per adult, not included with fair admission. Learn more and get tickets at northwesternmichiganfair.net.

Photo(s) by Northwestern Michigan Fair