Midway entertainment offers family-friendly fun

ESCANABA – There’s something new around every corner at the Upper Peninsula State Fair, and even without venturing into the grandstand fairgoers can find world class entertainment.

One feature of this year’s fair is the Wallendas’ Circus Incredible. The presentation of gravity-defying circus acts takes place next to the activities tent and features performers Rietta and Lyric Wallenda of the world-renowned Wallenda family, and Simon Arestov of Moscow, Russia.

“We come to you all the way from sunny Sarasota, Fla., and yes, we are freezing in this weather,” Arestov told an audience Wednesday afternoon.

The Wallendas’ Circus Incredible is a daily event for the duration of the fair. Today and tomorrow the Wallendas’ Circus Incredible will have shows at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. Saturday’s shows will be at noon, 1:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 7 p.m. Sunday’s shows will take place at noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.

Nancy Mitchelle, a second generation puppeteer and ventriloquist who worked with Jim Hensen and won first place on The Gong Show, will continue the family friendly entertainment with a circus-themed puppet show.

The Mitchell Marionettes – a feature of fairs and festivals in the United States since 1969 – will continue to delight fairgoers of all ages with their puppetry on a steamboat-shaped stage in front of the grandstand through Sunday.

“I started out with live audiences so I love the fairs,” said Mitchelle.

Mitchelle is a second generation puppeteer, but this year’s U.P. State Fair is only the second fair that the Mitchelle family has ever performed in Michigan. According to Mitchelle, former U.P. State Fair organizer Steve Masters attended the first show in Michigan as a child.

“He contacted us during the booking season and he said, ‘I saw your Showboat when I was a little kid and I want to bring you to my fair so that I, and all the little kids, and their parents at the U.P. State Fair can see the show again and relive the experience that I had,'” recalled Mitchelle.

Today and tomorrow the Mitchell Marionettes shows will take place at 2:30, 5 and 7 p.m.

Saturday’s shows will take place at 1, 3, 5:30, and 6:30 p.m. Sunday’s shows will take place at noon and 4 p.m.

Returning for its second year at the fair is the Friendly Farmers Barn Yard Review. The performances are family friendly and incorporate farm education with entertainment.

“There’s magic and art and comedy and music in the show,” said Farmer Zak, who leads the show with his silly assistant Miss Amanda.

The show also features two mascot characters, Elvis Holstein and Hammy Faye, who travel around the fairgrounds meeting visitors when not on stage.

“We do three different shows throughout the day,” said Farmer Zak, noting fairgoers could see something new at every show.

All Barnyard Review shows are located near Building 10 through Saturday. Today’s friendly Farmer Barnyard Review shows will take place at 1:30, 3:30, 5, and 6:30 p.m. Friday’s shows will be at 1:30, 3:30, and 6:30 p.m. Saturday’s shows are scheduled for 12:30, 2:30, 5, and 7 p.m.