Column: Fair has clear direction for its continued success
ESCANABA — The Upper Peninsula State Fair Authority (established in 2010) is the governing body of the U.P. State Fair. It is responsible for coordinating and providing a variety of services related to the U.P. State Fair and the fairgrounds for the citizens of the Upper Peninsula and the State of Michigan. The UP State Fair Authority targets three main objectives in its responsibilities.
The first objective is Agricultural Promotion. Promoting agriculture is a primary focus to connect consumers with producers of agricultural products. The fair supports programs, facilities and competitions to enhance this connection during the fair and all other times.
The fairgrounds host multiple agricultural events that are non-fair related. Weekend equine shows and competitions are the most common events to enjoy during the summer, however canine shows and competitions, cattle shows and sales also occur during non-fair weeks. If you have never attended any of these events, I encourage you to do so. You do not know what you are missing.
Economic Development is the second objective. The fairgrounds provides vendors, exhibitors and entertainers a modern and extensive facility to display, sell and promote their products to fair and special event visitors. The Authority and its management agency, the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, seek to create an environment to enhance economic activity in the Upper Peninsula and the State of Michigan.
Ever wonder how or even why the UP State Fairgrounds attracts large non-fair events such as the Great Lakes Timber Producers show (Logging Congress), previously held large RV group rallies or the Harley Owners Group (HOG) Rally that is scheduled for 2021? The Authority has been able to allocate money for facility infrastructure improvements to allow the fairgrounds to operate effectively to support these major events. The Delta Chamber of Commerce does a wonderful job seeking out possible large events, putting together invites and very competitive bids in order to secure these events to our area where local businesses will benefit from the influx of event attendees into our area.
The third objective is Education and Heritage. Since 1928, the UP State Fair has provided a place for folks from across the nation to experience and celebrate the unique culture and heritage of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The UP State Fair Authority is aware of the heritage and wishes to ensure that future generations can enjoy it as well. The UP State Fair seeks to develop programs that will preserve the heritage and educate the public about opportunities in agriculture and natural resources in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The Steam and Gas Village and the DNR Pocket Park have been providing education on the heritage of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on the fairgrounds for decades. Since being established in 2010 the UP State Fair Authority, along with the help of many organizations, has continued to provide a place for folks to experience Michigan’s Upper Peninsula’s culture and heritage. The Miracle of Life building provides fair attendees an opportunity to witness births to cattle, swine, goats and sheep. The Growing Up Foresters exhibit shows multiple aspects of our rich timber industry. The newest educational experiences located on the fairgrounds resides inside the Multi-Use Complex. The Webster Marbles Museum opened in August of 2019. The exhibit takes you on the journey of Webster Marble showing the impact he had not only on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but the entire United States. The Upper Peninsula Veterans Museum opened in October of 2020. This museum pays tribute to and honors our Upper Peninsula soldiers. Both museums are a must see. You will not be disappointed.
The Upper Peninsula State Fair Authority has used this mission statement for the last decade as a road map for the UP State Fairgrounds growth, enhancements and sustainability and is committed to utilizing it to provide clear direction and continued success.
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Jeff Wood is the Facilities Manager for the UP State Fairgrounds.