By Jason Raiche
ESCANABA - The 2012 U.P. State Fair will take place Aug. 13-19 at the U.P. State Fairgrounds, and organizers hope for another successful event this year.
Fairgoers enjoy a show by K9s in Flight as well as good food during the 2011 U.P State Fair. (Daily Press photo by Holly Richer)
This will be the fair's third year under local management, with the number three playing a prevalent theme - especially on the fair's third day.
"To celebrate three years of successful, independent operations, the gate admission will be reduced to $3 at 3 p.m. and ride armbands will be discounted by $3 for one hour on Wednesday, the third day of the fair," explained Vickie Micheau, member of the U.P. State Fair Management Team. "Souvenir keychains will also be given to the first 300 fairgoers through the gates from 3 to 4 p.m."
The fair will also see a new change in scenery with their newly constructed Miracle of Life Educational Pavilion located between the animal barns and dorms. There are also some changes inside and outside the Ruth Butler Exhibition Building, which will have a new space layout inside resulting in more vendors for fairgoers to visit.
The Miracle of Life Pavilion will house a number of attractions in addition to its namesake exhibit, including the camelid and alpaca corral, Michigan state butter cow, Growing UP Foresters exhibit, and Growing UP Farmers exhibit - which returns after a several-year hiatus.
"With all these great exhibits in one space, families will have a central location for educational and entertaining hands-on fun with their kids," added Micheau.
In addition to these exhibits, there will also be a daily barn raising put on by the Michigan Barn Preservation Network. The barn raisings give those in attendance a hands-on experience of a traditional community barn raising, such as those common in Michigan communities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And, of course, the U.P. Steam and Gas Engine Village is also nearby for fairgoers to visit.
The Miracle of Life Pavilion will have an official ribbon cutting ceremony on the fair's opening night - Monday, Aug. 13 at 4 p.m.
In addition to some of these new happenings is the return of carnival rides courtesy of Skerbeck Bros., as well as plenty of midway and grandstand entertainment.
The U.P. Garden Tractor Pulls will be held in the grandstands at 7 p.m. Aug. 13 - opening night, followed by Scott Murray's Sick Air Extreme Motorcycle show at 7 p.m. on Aug. 14.
Then it's three nights of musical entertainment, beginning with Texas-based country group, the Eli Young Band on Wednesday, Aug. 15 at 8 p.m. The four-piece band is perhaps best known for their award-winning No. 1 single "Crazy Girl" and follow-up hit "Even If It Breaks Your Heart."
Husband-wife country duo Thompson Square will take center stage Thursday, Aug. 16 at 8 p.m. Their hit singles include the No. 1 hit "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?", as well as "Let's Fight," "I Got You," and "Glass."
Friday night is an 80s hair band extravaganza, with Tesla taking over Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. as part of its 2012 "Twisted Wires Acoustic Tour."
Upper Peninsula International Raceway (U.P.I.R.) stock car races will be held Aug. 18 at 7 p.m., before the week concludes with the Demolition Derby at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19.
"During the fair, the grandstand is always the place to be for the fastest thrills and the most rockin' hits," said Micheau. "This year, with a great lineup of motorsports events and three national touring musical acts, the free grandstand entertainment at the U.P. State Fair is sure to please."
According to the fair's website, www.upstatefair.org, general daily fair admission is $8 for adults 13 and up, $5 for youth ages 6-12, and children five and under are always free. Weekly passes are available for $25 for adults and $15 for youth ages 6-12. Armbands for Skerbeck Brothers Carnival are $20 Monday through Thursday and Sunday, and $25 Friday and Saturday.
The fair will open Monday at 5 p.m. Reduced gate admission that night is $5 for adults 13 and older and $3 for youth ages 6-12. Tuesday is Scout Day, with reduced admission for scouts in uniform. Wednesday's "Three for All" theme coincides with Ladies Day, while Thursday is Governor's, Veterans' and Senior Citizen's Day. Admission is $5 that day for veterans and senior citizens 65 and older.
Then Friday it's Youth Day, followed by Saturday's Agriculture Day. Sunday, Family Day, will include discounted admission for fairgoers.
For more information on the events happening at this year's fair and for the daily schedule, visit www.upstatefair.org.