Over 100,000 fairgoers attend U.P. State Fair

ESCANABA — Attendance at the Upper Peninsula State Fair topped 100,000 fairgoers for the first time in its 94-year history. The event brought several records as Michigan’s only state fair continues to grow.

The milestone was reached by Sunday noon, Aug. 21. By the end of the seven-day fair, more than 103,000 people attended.

“When you go back and think about the history of the U.P. State Fair and the celebration of community and agriculture, it just shows that there are many people who still believe in that and want to keep the tradition alive,” said Vickie Micheau, executive director of the Delta Chamber of Commerce. “It means a lot that so many people are caring, supportive, and determined to make this fair succeed.”

Attendance was boosted by moving UPIR racing to Monday night, opening night of the fair. The weather also cooperated. There was little rain throughout the week which can affect attendance. The grandstands were filled Thursday, Friday and Saturday for concerts.

The record attendance resulted in a 6.2% increase in gate receipts. 

The week-long MEGA bands to ride the Skerbeck Entertainment fair rides sold out a month before the fair. The demand carried throughout the week. Skerbeck Entertainment reported a 3% increase in carnival activities during the fair.

Micheau said feedback from vendors was also very positive. She says most reported a good week. Some said that they “sold out” of food by Thursday night before the gates closed.

“They just didn’t expect the extraordinary crowds mid-week,” Micheau said. 

The Jr. Market Livestock Sale also set a record. Bidders purchased 197 animals for more than $615,000.

“We keep talking about breaking records. This year, the Jr. Market Livestock auction had a record setting year with over $600,000 dollars in sales, which is amazing,” said Micheau.

She says the buyers were happy to be back in the beef arena for the auction. Since 2020, the sale was held at the grandstands due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The poultry barn at the fair held its first chicken and egg auction. The top dozen egg sold for $800. Micheau says she expects the poultry auction will eventually be incorporated into the livestock sale.

And the popular bingo tent was back. U.P. robotics teams managed the bingo tent and held demonstrations.

Micheau said there are many people who deserve to take credit for the success of the fair including the U.P. State Fair Authority, exhibitors, volunteers, sponsors, vendors, Skerbeck Entertainment Group, media, and dedicated employees.

“Their support allows for the time-honored tradition of events and activities associated with the fairgrounds to continue,” she said.

This is the 13th year under the direction of the U.P. State Fair Authority. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recognized the accomplishment by saying the U.P. State Fair is Michigan’s only state fair during her remarks at the Governor’s luncheon.

Next year marks the 95th year of the U.P. State Fair.

“The planning has already started and we can’t wait to open the gates to another record setting year,” said Micheau.

Next year’s fair is scheduled for August 14 – 20, 2023.


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