Daily Press health fair draws crowd

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Daily Press Staff Writer Clarissa Kell, right, makes a bracelet for Nicholas Nestle of Gladstone at the ninth annual Daily Press Children’s Back-to-School and Health Fair Sunday.

ESCANABA — Hundreds of people attended the ninth annual Daily Press Children’s Back-to-School and Health Fair Sunday. The event, which is held at the Ruth Butler Building on the U.P. State Fairgrounds each year, gives families an opportunity to have fun while learning about health and safety.

“It’s been steady — that’s what’s nice,” Daily Press Advertising Manager Terrie Belongie said of attendance at this year’s event.

A variety of booths in the Ruth Butler Building run by local organizations and businesses were at the heart of 2019’s Back-to-School and Health Fair. At these booths, attendees were able to gain knowledge on health, safety and school-related topics and participate in many different activities.

One service offered at this year’s Back-to-School and Health Fair that has been featured at the event in the past was Child Identification Programs (CHIP), run by local Masons.

CHIP — which is provided free of charge — focuses on putting together information kits parents and guardians can use in emergency situations. The kits include flash drives containing information on participating children.

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Dan Ryno of the Great Lakes Youth Pool Tournament, left, shows Landon DuBord of Wells how to line up a shot during the ninth annual Daily Press Children’s Back-to-School and Health Fair Sunday.

“We keep nothing, and it’s good no matter where you go in the United States,” Delta Lodge 195 Member Eric Nyman said of this information.

Nyman said CHIP has traditionally been well-received among Back-to-School and Health Fair attendees.

“We get a very good response to it,” he said.

He noted the Masons have provided CHIP services to between 90 and 132 children per year at the Back-to-School and Health Fair.

The Escanaba Robomos also returned to the Back-to-School and Health Fair for 2019. At their booth, event attendees were able to interact with the robot used by the Robomos during their 2019 season.

“The kids really like giving the robot a ball and stuff like that,” Builder Annie Kluka said.

Visitors to the Robomos’ booth were able to watch a 3D printer in action and pilot Lego Mindstorms robots, as well.

“All of the kids were super-interested,” Kluka said of the Lego robots.

The Northern Lights YMCA’s booth at the Back-to-School and Health Fair gave people a chance to

learn about the YMCA’s upcoming offerings.

“We are just giving information about our preschool, school age and youth sports activities for the fall,” School Age Coordinator Andrea Merki said.

Additionally, the Northern Lights YMCA had a basketball hoop set up at its booth for visitors to try out.

“If the kids participate, they get a bouncy ball — they’ve loved it,” Merki said.

A number of activities were set up outside the Ruth Butler Building Sunday. Among these activities was the Kids’ Fire Safety House, operated by the Ford River Volunteer Fire Department.

“(There’s) a lot of kids going through it,” Fire Chief Brian Nelson said.

This interactive exhibit helped children at the Back-to-School and Health Fair learn about fire safety. At the end of their tour of the Kids’ Fire Safety House, children entered the exhibit’s upstairs bedroom; then, they experienced a simulated house fire.

“When they’re in the bedroom … we pump the bedroom full of a fog,” Nelson said.

Participating children escaped to safety by climbing out of a window and down a ladder.

Children who came to this year’s Back-to-School and Health Fair received bags and “report cards.” They were able to get the report cards stamped while visiting booths and completing activities at the event; if they collected stamps from all of the event’s booths and activities, they could submit their report card as an entry into a prize drawing.

The report card drawing winners were:

– Lilly Kwak — HP Stream 14″ laptop

– Shante DeCota — Skullcandy wireless Bluetooth headphones

– Leyton Beli — Vtech Kid Buzz

– Abbie Lantagne — Leap Frog Lead Pad Jr.

– Johnny Couillard II — Avengers backpack

– Della Hay — Minnie Mouse backpack

– Michael Moyle — Camo backpack

– Bella Lyle — LOL backpack

– Hunter Sherman –UP Health Systems backpack

– Adaline Busick — UP Health Systems backpack

As has been the case in the past, a free lunch was provided for people in attendance at the Back-to-School and Health Fair this year. However, the lunch itself was different.

While pizza has been served at the health fair in previous years, this year’s lunch consisted of hot dogs, chips, cookies and beverages. Food for the lunch was provided by Walmart, while beverages were provided by Bink’s Coca-Cola.

Some activities made their first appearance at the 2019 Back-to-School and Health Fair, including a pool table offered by the Great Lakes Youth Pool Tournament.

“We’re just trying to get kids interested in the sport of pocket billiards,” President Don Shope said.

According to Shope, the event’s presence at the Back-to-School and Health Fair was successful in furthering this goal.

“We could use about two or three more pool tables — it’s been crazy,” he said.

The Michigan Army National Guard also had a presence at the Back-to-School and Health Fair for the first time in 2019. Information on the National Guard was provided at a table just outside the Ruth Butler Building.

“We’re here to bring awareness and public knowledge of what the Michigan National Guard has to offer,” Brian Bizeau of the Michigan Army National Guard said.

Bizeau said he was impressed with the Back-to-School and Health Fair.

“It’s a pretty cool event, from what I get to see,” he said.

Additionally, a competition between members of high school football teams from Escanaba, Gladstone and Rapid River was changed for 2019’s event. This year, football players competed in multiple 60-second challenges — “Junk in the Trunk,” “Mad Dog” and “Face the Cookie” — in a contest known as “In It to Win It.”

Before 2019, high school football players participated in a pie-eating contest during the Back-to-School and Health Fair.

“We were just looking for something more competitive,” Daily Press Advertising Representative Sarah Maki — who organized “In It to Win It” — said.

Maki noted the change was successful and the new competition was entertaining.

“It was a lot of fun to watch them,” she said.

Rapid River came in first place in this year’s competition, winning $400 for the team’s fan club.

“We did it for Steve,” Rapid River football player Jackson Hooten said, referring to the team’s coach.

Escanaba’s players came in second place, winning $300 for their team’s fan club. Gladstone’s players came in third place and won $200 for their team’s fan club.

Escanaba student Reanna Yagodzinski said she makes a point of attending the Back-to-School and Health Fair.

“I come here every year,” she said, noting her favorite part of this year’s event was getting to see robots.

Anthony Lindsey, a Bark River student who attended the Back-to-School and Health Fair for his first time in 2019, said he was interested in coming back to the event next year.

“It’s actually really fun,” he said.