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Countdown to the fair

ESCANABA — Shortly we will be making a large transition to the new commerce center home in the multi-use complex on the corner of the U.P. State Fairgrounds. Before we make the big move, we needed to complete another transition — the annual move to the fairgrounds office below the grandstands.

There is nothing quite like being submerged in the fairground atmosphere. From driving across the grounds to the sounds and aromas of the office, it makes you feel as though it is mid-August every day as fair nostalgia is ever present. Part of the experience of working on the fairgrounds is not only reminiscent of fair week, but the history of the land which is weaved into Delta County history.

If you are not aware of the vibrant history that Delta County has, I urge you to find someone that can impart the knowledge. As our dear friend, Ann Jousma-Miller, says “You will walk a little taller!” Meaning, there is great pride in knowing the hard work, dedication, and trials and tribulations that came before us to forge what we now call home.

Part of the history that is stitched into this generation is the transition of the U.P. State Fair from the state of Michigan to the fair authority in 2009. You may be aware of this as we have been preaching this more heavily in the past year — for a very good reason. This year we get to celebrate 10 successful years of independent operation of the U.P. State Fair. When the state decided they could no longer fund it, our community rallied to keep it alive and well.

Last year, we conducted the economic impact study through the Regional Prosperity Initiative grant in partnership with Michigan State University. We knew going into it that it was important because the fair is an integral part of this community. However, we did not have any numbers to back up the claim as an economic driver. Now going into the 10th year of being governed by the U.P. State Fair Authority, we can celebrate that the fair generates $5.3 million in our region, and more importantly $2.8 million of that is new money generated.

Although it is so wonderful to be able to report these numbers, we all know that the livelihood of the fair affects our lives in many other ways than just monetarily. So for that, I would like to thank each and every one of you for allowing the U.P. State Fair to not only remain open, but to thrive. This is history in the making that we can all be proud to be a part of.

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Nicole Smith is communications director at the Delta County Chamber of Commerce

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