Fair to offer old favorites, new attractions

ESCANABA – New and returning entertainment acts and theme days comprise this year’s U.P. State Fair, which will be held Aug. 12-18 at the U.P. State Fairgrounds.

This year’s entertainment lineup and theme days were announced Thursday afternoon at a media conference held at the Island Resort & Casino.

The year 2013 marks the fourth year of independent local operations of the U.P. State Fair, which remains Michigan’s only state fair.

Vickie Micheau, executive director of the Delta County Commerce Center, which serves as managing agency for the fair, said the U.P. State Fair continues to experience growth each year.

“Even though Mother Nature didn’t cooperate with us as much last year as we wanted her to, we still had more people come to the fair than we did in the previous year’s record-setting year,” said Micheau, thanking the many sponsors who continue to support the fair each year.

This year’s grandstand entertainment features performances by Craig Morgan on Aug. 14, Jackyl and Great White on Aug. 15, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on Aug. 16. A Splash hot tub promotion takes place Aug. 12, where 10 competitors selected from amateur video performances submitted through Facebook will perform on stage in front of judges to win a new Health Living HL8 six-person spa worth $12,500. Additional grandstand entertainment includes Brew City Wrestling on Aug. 13, Upper Peninsula International Raceway racing on Aug. 17, and a Bump and Run Demolition Derby on Aug. 18.

This year features a number of free acts making their first appearance at the fair. These include Barn Yard Review – a farm-themed family variety show – and Kent Family Circus, which performs illusions, juggling, balancing, and more.

New to the Educational Pavilion is Big Big Stuff, where the Bay College Computer Aided Design team, which has landed in the Guinness Book of World Records, will have the world’s largest yo-yo, golf tee, padlock and key on display. The pavilion also welcomes Guinness world record holder Sarah Kaufmann as the featured sculptor for the butter sculpting exhibit. The pavilion also features returning exhibits including the Miracle of Life exhibit, Growing UP Foresters, and the U.P. Raptor Rehab Educational Show.

Other free returning acts this year are K9s in Flight’s “Homeless to High Flying” show; the Whispering Pines Animal Kingdom; Woodworks Chainsaw Carving; and the ever-popular strolling acts featuring Hammy Faye, Elvis Holstein, and a transforming robot. The U.S. Army National Guard will also be on hand for fairgoers to test their strength and endurance with various challenges.

As always, the Department of Natural Resources Pocket Park and Antique Gas and Steam Village will be open during the fair.

This year also features some noticeable changes to theme days. Though Monday continues as Opening Night, with gates open at 5 p.m., Tuesday has been dubbed Thrivent Financial Day in the activities tent – a private, invitation-only corporate event. Additional corporate outing days are available.

Wednesday is Ladies Day, which will feature networking, pampering, presentations, and prizes for ladies in the activities tent, along with food samples and wine and beer tasting.

Thursday marks the return of Native American Awareness Day with activities planned to showcase Native American culture in the community. Drummers, dancers, craft and food vendors will be featured in the activities tent. Those who show their CDIB/tribal membership cards will receive a discounted gate admission. Thursday is also Senior Citizens’ Appreciation Day, marked by the 20th annual Health and Wellness Fair for Senior Citizens held under the grandstand in the concourse area. Those over 65 will also be eligible for discounted gate admission.

Thursday, the fourth day of the fair, also features the fair’s “Three Four All” discount, where fairgoers will be offered a $3 gate admission and $3 discount coupons for ride armbands for one hour beginning at 3 p.m. The discount is being offered in celebration of the fair’s fourth year of successful independent fair operations.

“Gov. Rick Snyder will be attending the U.P. State Fair as part of Governor’s Day on Friday,” said Micheau. The governor’s visit will coincide with a luncheon featuring various dishes from chamber-member restaurants. Tickets for the luncheon are $20, which includes gate admission.

“This is always a sell-out event, so please reserve your tickets early by calling the Delta County Chamber of Commerce,” she said.

The governor’s visit coincides with Military Appreciation Day Friday, where active military, retired military and veterans will receive discounted admission prices. The recipient of this year’s U.P. Veteran of the Year Award will also be announced.

Saturday is Agriculture Day, which also coincides with Boy and Girl Scout Day in the activities tent, and discounted gate admission for scouts in uniform. The day will also feature the annual Junior Market Livestock Sale, according to Steve Masters of the U.P. State Fair management team.

“The sale of the animals last year at the 2012 fair was approximately $400,000,” said Masters. “When you couple that $400,000 with the $50,000 that the U.P. State Fair Authority budgets annually for premiums that we pay back to the exhibitors, that’s $450,000 that is going back to those exhibitors. The exhibitors tell us that they primarily use that money for their college educations and for their career advancement, so agriculture and the money raised for our exhibitors is such a strong part of the fair.”

The fair ends Sunday with discounted admission prices for Family Day.

For more information on this year’s U.P. State Fair, visit www.upstatefair.org.