Irons' Flea Roast and Ox Market offers new attractions and time-tested favorites

IRONS – This weekend marks the 40th installment of the Flea Roast and Ox Market. While there will not be any flea roasting or oxen for sale, the festival will continue its tradition of providing family-friendly fun for both area residents and out-of-towners.

“The festival has a great, small-town feel,” said Paul Suits, the president of the board of directors of the Irons Area Tourist Association. “It’s in the middle of the woods – Irons is in an area that is 60 percent national and state forest. It’s a classy event in the middle of the sticks.”

This year, the festival, which takes place in various locations around downtown Irons, offers new attractions as well as returning favorites. It begins at 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 26, in downtown Irons with an opening parade and concludes at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 29.

The event is put on each year by the Irons Area Tourist Association, a group that is grant-sponsored and maintains 70 miles of ORV routes in Lake County and 120 miles of snowmobile routes in the wintertime.

The event got its name when the original organizers mixed up “roast” and “market” while making the sign for it, Suits said. They decided to keep the mix-up to make the festival more unique.

Among the new draws this year include a car show on Sunday. The festival also is expanding its beanbag tournament, holding it on Friday and Saturday this year.

The event typically attracts 20,000 people.

“In the Irons area, I would say more than half of the cottages and cabins up here belong to people from out-of-town,” Suits said. “It’s like the old Lake County adage goes: ‘You have 9,000 people on Wednesday and 20,000 on Saturday.’”

Popular events returning this year include Friday’s “Country Day,” in which horse pulls will be held at 7 p.m. and country bands will start playing at 3:30 p.m. until 1 a.m. On Saturday, kids games will continue to be a draw, which include an arm wrestling tournament and a hot dog eating contest. The day also will feature musician Steve Cook, who will perform his original song, “The Legend of Michigan’s Dogman.” The night concludes with the popular fireworks display. “Our fireworks display is one of the best in the area,” Suits said. “We get rave reviews each year.” On Sunday, the festival will hold its Super Raffle Drawing, with the grand prize being a 2014 Can-Am Commander 800 Special Edition utility vehicle. Tickets are $5 each of five for $20. Admission and parking will be free on Thursday, June 26 and Sunday, June 29. On Friday, June 27, admission and parking is $5 per carload. On June 28, it is $8 per carload admission.

Irons’ 40th annual Flea Roast and Ox Market schedule of events

Thursday, June 26

  • 3 p.m. — Opening parade
  • 4 p.m. — Opening ceremonies
  • 4:30 p.m. — Ox Market, amusement rides by TJ Schmidt and Company, souvenir booth, raffle booth, IATA food booth and beer tent open
  • 4:30 p.m. — Live music by D.J. Tolin
  • 6 p.m. — Ol’ timers softball (co-ed, 20+ welcome, bring your bat and mitt)
  • 7 p.m. — Kids penny scramble
  • 7:30 p.m. — Kids bike raffle
  • 8 p.m. — Live music by Hearts in Spades
  • 10 p.m. — IATA food booth, souvenir booth and raffle booth close
  • 12:30 a.m. — Skinner Park closes

Friday, June 27

  • Noon — Ox Market, amusement rides, souvenir booth, raffle booth, beer tent and IATA food booth open
  • 2 p.m. – Penny scramble
  • 3:30 p.m. — Live music by The Silverado Band
  • 4:30 p.m. – Kids’ bike raffle
  • 6 p.m. — Bean bag tournament and softball tournament begins
  • 7 p.m. — Draft horse pulls and kids penny scramble
  • 8 p.m. — Live country music by 4-Play Band
  • 10 p.m. — IATA food booth, raffle booth and souvenir booth close
  • 12:30 a.m. — Skinner Park closes

Saturday, June 28

  • 8:30 a.m. — Softball tournament begins
  • 9 a.m. — Registration for horseshoe tournament
  • 10 a.m. — Beach volleyball tournament, Ox Market, raffle booth and beer tent open
  • 11 a.m. — Amusement rides open and kids hula hoop contest
  • Noon — Kids sack race
  • 12:30 p.m. — Kids penny scramble
  • 2 p.m. Arm wrestling tournament and kids bubble blowing contest
  • 2:30 p.m. — Hot dog eating contest
  • 3 p.m. — Kids egg toss and Dog Man arrives
  • 4 p.m. — Live acoustic music by D.J. Tolin and beanbag tournament
  • 6 p.m. – The Dog Man performs
  • 6:30 p.m. — Kids penny scramble
  • 8 p.m. — Live music by OTC
  • 10 p.m. — IATA food booth, raffle booth and souvenir booth close
  • 11:30 p.m. — Live music resumes with OTC
  • 1 a.m. — Skinner Park closes
  • Fireworks over Skinner Park at dark

Sunday, June 29

  • 8:30 p.m. – Car show registration begins
  • 9 a.m. — Gospel breakfast hosted by Irons Union Church and softball tournament continues
  • 10 a.m. — Ox Market, raffle booth amusement rides and car show open
  • Noon — IATA food booth, beer tent open; live music by Duke and the Studebakers; kids’ bike raffle
  • 3 p.m. — Super raffle drawing
  • 3:15 p.m. – Car show judging awards
  • 4 p.m. — IATA food booth closes and beer tent auction at the beer tent takes place