Study: Fairgoers spent $5.35 million

ESCANABA — The Upper Peninsula State Fair proved to be an economic boon to the Upper Peninsula in 2018, according to a study conducted by Michigan State University. The Aug. 13-19 U.P. State Fair in Escanaba drew a record-high 92,000 fairgoers. This was nearly a 6 percent increase over 2017’s record-setting attendance of 87,000. Visitors spent a total of $554,860 in the fairgrounds on admission tickets, as well as with vendors, entertainment and midway attractions. But the biggest economic impact resulted from fairgoers spending more than $5.35 million at area hotels, restaurants, retail stores and more, the study showed.

These economic impact results and others were recently released in a report from the Michigan State University Product Center’s Center for Economic Analysis. Based on MSU estimates, the 2018 U.P. State Fair resulted in an economic impact of $2,716,240 million defined as new transactions that caused a positive change in the economy.

“Great weather definitely contributed to a bigger draw and higher revenues this year,” said Vickie Micheau, executive director at the Delta County Chamber of Commerce. “The U.P. State Fair Authority once again set a new attendance standard for this family-friendly annual event. The continued success of the fair is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Authority, volunteers, exhibitors, vendors, sponsors and employees.”

In addition to money from attendees, the fairgrounds garnered $145,264 in rental fees from 188 vendors and concessionaires. Most of these vendors came from outside the region and spent an estimated $200,000 in the local economy. Skerbeck Entertainment Group, operator of the midway rides, games and food attractions, spent an additional $50,000 in the local economy.

Another economic gain for the region was livestock sales. The fair’s local, junior livestock exhibitors made $444,420 during the junior market livestock auction.

“The U.P. State Fair is more than a seven-day revenue generator for our region,” said Phyllis French, board chair of the U.P. State Fair Authority. “It supports the equivalence of 29 annual jobs in our communities with an estimated total labor income of $686,521. I am pleased to report that the fair was visited 92,000 times and injected $5.3 million into the economy.”

Ed McBroom, Dickinson County Authority representative, added that economic analysts cannot put a dollar value on the U.P. State Fair’s biggest impacts. “How can you quantify the happiness this fair brings to thousands of families? The pride 4-H kids take in their animals and projects whether they win ribbons or not. That’s priceless.”

Robert Micheau, executive director of Visit Escanaba, said the fair is a major tourist draw to the region. “Nearly 20 percent of the attendees came from outside our central region and 13 percent stayed overnight. In one week, they put nearly $2 million into our economy.”

Jarred Drown, president of Visit Escanaba, added, “The state fair does so much more than just the value added to the local businesses. It also makes Escanaba a better place to live. Our area hosts many other tournaments, races, concerts and events throughout the summer and fall seasons, but the U.P. State Fair is the crowning jewel of them all. I have four young children and as a family, we look forward to the fun times and memories we will make at this event every year. This fair shows 92,000 people what’s best in the U.P. and gives them reasons to come back to our communities all year-round.”

The 2019 U.P. State Fair is slated for Aug. 12-18. Information for returning and new vendors, as well as sponsorship opportunities, is available at upstatefair.net. Inquiries also can be made during the winter months at 906-786-2192 or info@deltami.org.

The Upper Peninsula State Fair, Michigan’s only state fair, is held annually the third week of August. It is seven days of midway thrills, agriculture and livestock exhibits, grandstand entertainment and special attractions. The fairgrounds are located on 144 acres at 2401 12th Ave. N., Escanaba. In addition to the fair, it is the site of private and community events throughout the year. For upcoming events or more information about the fairgrounds, visit upstatefair.net.

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