On a health kick: Hundreds turn out for event

ESCANABA – The fourth annual Daily Press Children’s Back-to-School and Health Fair has marked another successful year.

The free event, which featured many activities, prizes, and demonstrations for children and teens, was held Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Ruth Butler Building at the U.P. State Fairgrounds. Many local schools, health care providers, financial institutions and other local vendors participated in the event, presenting information, demonstrations, fun activities and immunizations for children.

New to the event this year was the first-ever Cherry Bowl, a cherry pit-spitting contest by members of area high school football teams.

The Escanaba Eskymos pit-spitting team comprised of Travis Heller, Jacob Walker, Joey Walker, Collin Uhazie, and Bryant Beem, won $300 for their sports booster club as the winners of the contest. The runners-up Bark River-Harris Broncos won $200 for their boosters.

Gladstone and Rapid River schools also competed in the pit-spitting contest.

Additional activities included Zumba demonstrations, a Raptor Rehab show and demonstration, an “Are You Brighter than Your Parents” trivia contest where winners received retail gift cards, and Escanaba Public Safety police dog demonstration.

A National Guard sponsored push-up contest was won by Jake Rosa.

“Overall I think this is a great event for families and just a nice atmosphere for the kids,” said Cheri Mathieson of Escanaba, who accompanied her nephew Mikaiden to the event. “I’ve brought him every year now. We enjoy it.”

For Laura Maki, of Gladstone, this was her second year taking her children to the event.

“We wanted to just come see what was going on,” she said. “My kids are starting school in the fall. I think it’s a good event. I think there’s a lot of good information at the different booths.”

Mariah Bullard, of Escanaba, brought her two sons Brode and Logan to the health fair. This was Bullard’s first year in attendance, through she said she would definitely return in the future.

“I think that there’s a lot of neat things here,” said Bullard. “There’s a lot of free things for the kids to do and a lot of nice giveaways.”

The fair also offered immunizations at a discounted price through Public Health Delta & Menominee Counties. The Delta Masonic Lodge 195 and Gladstone Masonic Lodge 396 were also on hand providing families with the Michigan Child Identification Program. Families completing the free program left with packets including dental impressions and a CD containing a photo, video, digital fingerprints, and the child’s vital information – which can be used to issue an Amber Alert.

Other featured activities at the health fair included face painting, an Escanaba High School Robomos robot demonstration, a Power Wheels safety course provided by Halbinsel Volkswagen Mazda, a distracted driver obstacle course, driving simulator, smoke house presented by the Ford River Volunteer Fire Department, police car and school bus rides, and demonstrations by the Escanaba Public Safety K-9 Unit, Delta County Sheriff’s Department, and Michigan State Police.

The Eagle 107.3 had a live remote broadcast at the event and a free lunch was provided courtesy of Papa Murphy’s Pizza and Bink’s Coca-Cola.

Each child attending the fair was given a report card to have stamped by the various booths and vendors on display. Once filled out, the report cards were entered into a drawing to win an Apple iPad or LeapFrog LeapPad. The winners were announced this morning.

McKenzie Rickel won the iPad while Dakota Hayen won the LeapPad.

Winners of the Power Wheels giveaway were Vanessa Mabie and Mikaiden Hughes, while Catherine Lindberg and Jessica and Ernie Reimer won the dinner and movie certificate giveaway.

The major sponsors of this year’s Back-to-School & Health Fair are the Daily Press, OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group, EMP, Papa Murphy’s Pizza, the Northern Lights YMCA, and the Eagle 107.3.

Other sponsors present at the event were the Delta County Credit Union, Holy Name Catholic School, Escanaba Public Library, Health Quest, Peninsula Federal Credit Union, SDA Christian School, Bink’s Coca-Cola, Healthway Nutrition, Escanaba Area Public Schools, the Michigan National Guard, AAA Drivers Education, the Michigan State Police, and Halbinsel Volkswagen Mazda.