ESCANABA - Thursday was a special day for many as the U.P. State Fair celebrated Native American and Senior Citizens' day.
Both Senior Citizens and tribal members received special discounts on admission for the day. Seniors over the age of 65 were admitted to the fair for only $5. Adult tribal members showing a CDIB/Tribal Membership Card also received $5 admission and youth tribal members between the ages of 6 and 12 were admitted for $3.
However, the day was more than an opportunity for reduced fair admissions for both groups. For senior citizens, the special day included a free wellness fair.
"Every year - it's been 20 years - we've been having a health fair for senior citizens," said Debby Wiltzius, in home services manager at MDS Community Action Agency and orchestrator of the event for the past 15 years.
The wellness fair featured booths from many different groups and agencies including local hospitals, home health care providers, and other groups that tailor to the changing needs of seniors. Seniors who visited each booth were eligible to win a variety of door prizes.
"Everyone can stop at the tables and see what we have to offer throughout the community. We have door prizes. It's just a really fun day," said Wiltzius, adding that about 800 people come through the health fair.
Some of the booths also offered free health screenings including screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.
The wellness fair will be open again today for Ladies' Day. However, unlike Thursday's wellness fair that ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., today's wellness fair will only run from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Most of the booths from Thursday will be returning and Ladies' Day visitors will also have an opportunity to win door prizes.
Members of the Hannahville Indian Community used the special day at the fair as an opportunity to share their culture through crafts and demonstrations teaching others about the different styles of native dance.
"We're going to be doing a pow-wow exhibition where people will be able to see the different dances styles," explained Susie Meshigaud, chairperson of the Hannahville Indian Community Culture Committee.
Throughout the pow-wow, Vicki Dowd, vice-chairperson of the Culture Committee, acted as a master of ceremonies, explaining the significance and meaning of the different dances being performed to audience members.
"It's just kind of to teach the public about what we do and why we do it," said Meshigaud.
This marks the second Native American Day at the fair. In the past, members of the tribe had operated a frybread stand and had demonstrated a small pow-wow. However, those pow-wows ended a number of years ago.
"The fair approached us last year, actually, to see if we would do that again, because a lot of people were asking 'Are you going to have a pow-wow? Are you going to do this or that?' Because people where kind of missing that. They missed seeing that," said Meshigaud, adding that the tribe was happy to bring the pow-wows back to the fair.
"That's something that, from the tribe, we'd like to be able to do it how we think we should do it," she said.
Two groups of drummers provided the drumming and singing for the pow-wow. Ditibahsin, a group of drummers from the Hannahville area whose name translates to "the rolling stone," was joined by the Young Fire Keepers from Carter, Wis.