ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – It has been a busy summer at the U.P. State Fairgrounds, especially for first-year operations manager Matt Valiquette.
“Over the last 60 days, we had 21 major events on the fairgrounds, ranging from weekly racing here, of course Northern Lights Music Festival, Trappers Convention—a national-level convention,” Valiquette said. “It really all began back in May with the Fun Run.”
According to the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, this year’s fair is shaping up to be bigger than ever.
“In every area, we’re noticing an increase,” said Chamber Executive Director Vickie Micheau. “We have more demand for camping; our ticket sales are higher than what they were last year at this time for gate tickets. That’s a real good indication that people are excited about the fair and that they’re going to get out and support it.”
Valiquette is anticipating 10,000 fairgoers on any given day. To accommodate so many guests, crews are preparing more greenspace where people can enjoy food from the midway.
“We actually doubled the number of picnic tables and benches that we’re setting up for folks this year,” said Valiquette. “We’re excited about that.”
It takes a big team to get all the landscaping, cleaning, and setup done in a short amount of time. This year’s team includes a group of high school students with the Superior Alliance for Independent Living (SAIL).
“We’re helping these kids have a real-life working experience so that they can have a nice movement into adult life,” said SAIL job coach Jordyn Hardy. “Hopefully this will help them know what kind of job they want to get or how they can get a job in the future.”
With early numbers up and a dedicated crew, Valiquette is optimistic about his first year as fairgrounds operations manager.
“We’re really looking forward to trying to make the 95th annual U.P. State Fair the best ever,” he said.
The gates open on Monday, August 14 at 5:00 p.m. The fair runs through Sunday, August 20. Click here for a full schedule of events.
WZMQ 19 is a proud sponsor of the 2023 U.P. State Fair.