U.P. State Fair sets record attendance during week-long event
ESCANABA — Fairgoers flocked to the Upper Peninsula State Fair in record numbers a year after COVID-19 concerns cancelled the event.
Record attendance was reached on four of the seven days of the fair for a total of 97,057 fair-going guests, a three percent increase over 2019.
“So many people deserve to take credit for a very successful fair”, said Vickie Micheau, executive director of the Delta Chamber of Commerce who manages the fair. “The dedication and commitment of the U.P. State Fair Authority members, exhibitors, volunteers, sponsors, vendors, Skerbeck Entertainment Group, employees and, most importantly, Mother Nature’s cooperation, simply can’t be overstated.”
There was no rain throughout the week of the fair which can adversely affect attendance at the predominately outdoor event.
Carnival rides were a main attraction. Skerbeck Entertainment Group saw a nearly 30 percent increase in revenue for another record-breaking year. Mega band sales that allow unlimited rides during the fair sold out two weeks earlier than usual.
“It was a very fast sellout,” said Sonja Skerbeck, co-owner and director of marketing of Skerbeck Entertainment Group. “It was a leading indicator to me that a lot of people had interest in coming out and enjoying themselves at the fair.”
Skerbeck had invested funds before the pandemic in two new major rides and office facilities.
There was a great turnout in the grandstands, presented by the Island Resort and Casino, each entertainment night at the fair. Gold Circle ticket sales sold out for Josh Turner on Friday night and Buckcherry on Saturday. The stands filled on Sunday night for the UPIR racing and the closing fireworks display.
The grandstands were also used to hold the Junior Market Livestock Sales to allow more space for COVID-19 concerns. The auction raised more than $491,000 for the youth exhibitors.
“We had a great crowd, great support for our youth exhibitors. I’m very proud of their hard work,” said Ed McBroom, chair of the U.P. State Fair Authority.
Corporate and individual buyers bid on livestock from the grandstands as the animals were projected on a video wall on stage.
The local community again benefited from the economic impact of the U.P. State Fair after a year when the fair was not held. Micheau said the fair is vital to the overall economy of Delta County and much of the Upper Peninsula.
“This drives the commitment of generous sponsors and U.P. leadership to maintain the existence of the fair and contributes to the pride local communities show by their participation and support,” she said.
There were some challenges in presenting the fair this year. Due to the pandemic, there were fewer workers available. Micheau says Scouts and other volunteers stepped forward to help get the fairgrounds ready.
They also had issues with handicap parking and accessibility that Micheau said will be addressed by a task force in the coming year.
And it took time to resolve Internet communications issue with the new electronic ticketing system.
Overall, McBroom said he considers the fair to be a great success. He said the authority is already making plans for next year.
“We continue to grow the fair every year. We have a lot of dreams of what we can do to draw even more people and keep growing the whole event,” said McBroom.
Record attendance were set this year on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Next year’s U.P. State Fair is scheduled for Aug. 15-21.