U.P. State Fair comes to close

ESCANABA – The sights, sounds, and smells of the Upper Peninsula State Fair have faded from the Escanaba landscape, but the memories of a particularly successful fair season are still fresh in the minds of Michiganders.

Unseasonably cold weather didn’t stifle the fun for fairgoers who turned out in droves – many viewed the weather as ideal for attending the fair.

“Yoopers know how to have a good time, no matter what Mother Nature throws at us,” said TJ Thomas, vendor manager.

Even vendors felt like the weather was good for business.

“It’s been really good. We’ve been having nice weather so people are coming out and enjoying the fair,” said Brooke Grandquist, who worked the Jilbert’s Dairy House for the Rapid River Dairy Flo at the fair. According to Grandquist, customers in the morning preferred milk and coffee, but as the days went on customers preferred ice cream – especially on warmer afternoons.

The fair attracted new vendors as well as old favorites. For the Brisket Barn, which was new to the fair this year, coming to the U.P. State Fair just seemed to make sense.

“We’ve done a lot of horse events so these are our people – the campers, the barn folks,” said Bobbi Ryan, who owns and operates the Brisket Barn with Cynthia Ivy.

The Brisket Barn features a variety of foods that center around their namesake, including breakfast burritos made with brisket, brisket topped nachos, and sliders. Despite not having any previous experience with the U.P. State Fair, the concessionaires have learned quite a lot by interacting with their state fair customers.

“We had just assumed our number one seller would be the sliders, but it’s actually the nachos,” said Ivy.

No matter what fairgoers’ tastes were, there was something for everyone available at this year’s fair – whether it be food, wares, or information.

“We had nearly 200 concessionaires operating food and beverage stands, arts and crafts displays, information and product demonstration booths and similar attractions at this year’s fair,” said Vickie Micheau, Delta County Commerce Center executive director and fair organizer.

This year marks the fifth year that the fair has been run independent of state funding and direction, but even without state support the fair has maintained it’s place as a U.P. tradition. Each day of the fair, the grounds were abuzz with activity as fairgoers enjoyed the sights and sounds of the fair, showed animals, rode carnival rides, ate food, or simply spent time with friends and family.

“There was a lot of positive energy on the fairgrounds this year with many people expressing their appreciation that the U.P. State Fair is still going strong after five years of operating under the guidance of the U.P. State Authority,” said Micheau.