Column: Groundbreaking was a memorable day

ESCANABA — It was a beautiful morning when a large crowd gathered to break ground for the new home of the U.P. State Fair and Commerce Center Offices, Visitor Center and the Webster Marble and U.P. Veterans Museums during the U.P. State Fair.

The number of people who turned out to witness the ceremonious event confirmed our belief that we are indeed fortunate to live and work in a community that continually supports the vision and future growth of the fairground facility.

Nine years ago, the fairgrounds property was conveyed to the people of the Upper Peninsula and a 16-member authority was established. The authority is responsible for oversight and sustainability of the facility. It is the commitment of the authority that keeps the ONLY state fair in Michigan open and going strong!

The new building, like the Steam and Gas Village and DNR Pocket Park, will be one more anchor to help sustain the fairgrounds for the next generation and beyond. Phyllis French, authority chair, commented during the ceremony that, “A couple of years ago this building was a twinkle in our eye, now our vision is possible because of the John and Melissa Besse Foundation and the State of Michigan.”

Phyllis is absolutely correct; the new multi-use building would never be possible without the support of the family and foundation of John and Melissa Besse. Governor Rick Snyder also acknowledged the significant donation from the foundation when he said, “I’m proud to say that the state had a piece in the construction of the building, but the Besse family and foundation should be congratulated for their outstanding contribution to make this happen!”

Senator Tom Casperson and Representative Beau LaFave secured the state piece of $500,000 in funding through a special legislative grant to help with construction costs of the facility that will house a museum to honor Upper Peninsula veterans. Both elected officials and Governor Snyder thanked veterans for their service in defense of our country and freedoms.

It’s an exciting time on the U.P. State Fairgrounds with construction starting within the next few weeks. Watch for updates in this column throughout the year.

We look forward to seeing another large crowd in attendance at the 2019 U.P. State Fair when the vision becomes a reality and we celebrate the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the new multi-use building on the fairgrounds.

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Vickie Micheau is executive director of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce