Monday, August 20, 2012

UPDATED: Michigan's Only State Fair, In Vivid Moments

A rainbow bends across Escanaba, Mich. after an evening rain on Aug. 15 while rides continue during the U.P. State Fair.

Nicole Rutherford, 17, rides her 10-year-old horse Angel Lou in the arena on Aug. 14 in the U.P. State Fairgrounds in Escanaba, Mich.
James Young, Eli Young Band lead guitarist, plays before a large
crowd at the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba, Mich. on Aug. 14, 2012.

The smell of deep fried dough and sugar wafts through the air with the slight breeze. A thunderous roar of machinery is followed with deathly screams. Upbeat organ music echoes eerily through the rows of buildings, tents and campers. The sun feels warm on the skin.

They are some of the senses of the Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba, Mich., where thousands of people come annually for the thrills, food and entertainment. It is considered Michigan's only state fair.

The fair was $1,500 short of last year's revenue, according to U.P. State Fair officials.

“We didn't quite hit our expectations and it's primarily due to the weather on Thursday and on Saturday,” said Vickie Micheau, Executive Director of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce in an interview with WLUC TV-6. “And of course, Saturday is probably the highest day of interest. So it was a little bit disappointing of course."

Micheau said the 2012 fair reached 98 percent financial expectations.

During the course of the fair, there were concerts, live animal births, thrills and spectacles. A team of trampoline acrobats bounced as high as 20 feet. Bands such as the Eli Young Band, Tesla and Thompson Square played before large crowds in the grandstand in the U.P. State Fairgrounds.

Live animal births happened in the Miracle of Life building where spectators saw cows, sheep and pigs give birth. There were also horse shows featuring barrel racing and other races. People showing their livestock participated in auctions and traded advice and stories about farming.

A rustic village with old-style storefronts was occupied with a quilt maker, blacksmith, barber, cornmeal mill, a small sawmill and ice cream shop. The storefronts overlook a square with a tall windmill in the center. The smell of fresh-cut wood blew around this village as volunteers sawed logs with a saw running off of a 1900 train engine, fed by a eight-inch-wide belt. The boards are later sold.

The Department of Natural Resources' Pocket Park in the northwest section of the fairgrounds features a pond in the shape of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and 6,000 hybrid bluegills for people of all ages to catch and release.

A steady stream of lines filled the fairgrounds for one of the most popular features of the fair each year: the food. Various stands featured a range of food from teriyaki chicken to italian sausages, onion blooms, burgers, barbecue sandwiches and elephant ears.

A late-morning rain and short afternoon rain on Aug. 15 slowed activity in the fair, but lines lengthened shortly after and rides filled up as a rainbow bent across the downtown district of Escanaba.

Marianne Seehafer works on a drawing of a dog in her display in the Ruth Butler Building during the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba, Mich. on Aug. 16, 2012.
Douglas Quaak walks his 10-year-old llama-alpaca hybrid, Sweet Pea, in the U.P. State Fairgrounds in Escanaba, Mich. on Aug. 15, 2012.
A crowd watches the Eli Young Band perform in front of the grandstand at the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba, Mich. on Aug. 14, 2012.

Sawmill volunteers work to feed the belt back onto a 1900 train engine, which is used to power the saw.
Thompson Square lead singer Shawna Thompson points at fans in the crowd waving their arms during a song at the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba, Mich. on Aug. 15, 2012.
A day-old lamb curiously looks into the camera.
Horses rest between shows throughout the day on Aug. 16 at the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba, Mich.