Column: Fair is always creating new memories

ESCANABA — Do you remember what the fair meant to you as you were growing up? A colleague recently said, “that was the chance for me to wear my new shoes for the upcoming school year against my mother’s wishes.” Even though the memory ended in her brand-new shoes being full of mud from a week of running around the grounds, her laughs that accompanied the story proved that all of the memories of the fair were well worth it.

With each new year, the excitement of seeing the newest additions, as well as visiting the tried-and-true favorites, it remains true that her love for the fair continues to evolve. From childhood stomping grounds to adolescent years of swooning crushes, from falling in love to raising children of her own, one thing remains constant — the U.P. State Fair.

Whether it is the fair food that you crave, but can only get once a year, if it is the family that visits from out of town for the week, or if it is wearing those brand-new back to school shoes, it is evident that the state fair is engrained in who we are. The locals get to don a sense of pride as people come from miles around to marvel at all the fair and our beautiful community has to offer.

With the importance of the state fair for preserving heritage and community being so evident, local leaders carried on the tradition even after the state funding was no longer provided. Between the U.P. State Fair Authority which has representation from each of the 15 counties in the U.P., as well as the Hannahville Indian Community, the U.P. State Fair is able to exist. It not only exists, but thrives because of the fair-goers, sponsors, entertainers, and vendors.

As we approach the 10-year milestone of operating independently, it is our duty to everyone involved in making it a success to provide valuable data on the impact the fair has on our local and regional economy. Therefore, with the Regional Prosperity Grant we are able to conduct an Economic Impact Study that will be analyzed by Steve Miller, the director at Michigan State Universities Center of Economic Analysis.

So, while you mosey around the fairgrounds, keep an eye out for the short surveys we will be conducting in person, with an online option for your convenience. By providing us with a picture of your personal spending during the fair, we will be better able to provide you with the most valuable data.

As always, we look forward to creating new memories with you at the one and only U.P. State Fair!

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Nicole Smith is an economic analyst project manager with the Delta County Chamber of Commrce