Suggestions for the U.P. State Fair

EDITOR

Having just returned from your beautiful Upper Peninsula and attending the U.P. State Fair, I want to share my fair experience with you.

On Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 I attended the fair with a local resident who walks with the aid of a cane and who has a handicapped parking permit issued by the State of Michigan. (For his anonymity, I’ll call him Adam). When we arrived at Gate 4 just off 30th Street where Adam showed the officer his permit, the officer said the handicapped parking was in the open field area across the street. This “handicapped” area was a long, arduous walk to the midway and the exhibits, but we had hoped to see the farm items and enjoy some fair food. Adam and I took a few rests before we finally reached the midway where we began discussing how in the world he would get back to his parked vehicle.

Oh as an aside, when we came into the food vendor area, I purchased two small drinks at one of the lemonade vendors where the price was listed as $3.50 each. I had $7 ready for payment, but the vendor told me I owed $8. I informed him of the listed price and he said that was for the previous night. I paid the $8 and let him know his action was illegal, but this created a negative tone and I felt I had been duped at a carnival.

After we drank our lemonade and rested, we went through the Butler Building, and I also toured the flower exhibit while Adam continued recuperating in the Butler Building. Then we purchased some food and began planning our exit as Adam was exhausted and unable to walk to other exhibits. While he rested in a shaded area, I went on a quest for help. I talked with various staff: on a golf cart, in the information booth, at the entrance gate by the first aid station, and finally an OSF staff member at the first aid station arranged for Adam to wait by the main entrance gate while I fetched his vehicle. The gate staff was kind to provide him with a chair under a canopy, and the parking attendants allowed me to take his truck directly to the gate to pick him up. This was all so appreciated.

We left the event frustrated and disappointed, with lots of ideas for making the fair a more pleasant experience. Please consider the following:

– Ensure all staff at the gates are sensitive to the disabled guests’ needs.

– Display directional signs.

– Provide adequate number of wheelchairs for rent.

– Use the golf carts for shuttling guests who may have some mobility issues.

– Place an awning or canopy over the benches along the walkways.

– Erect cooling stations with misting sprays.

– Place a ceiling fan or two in the canopied areas for eating in the midway food sections.

– Make sure your vendors abide by their posted prices.

Carol Kennedy

Florence, Ky.