Rep. LaFave says governor’s administration shut down UP State Fair

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 5:32 PM EDT
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State Rep. Beau LaFave, of Iron Mountain, Wednesday criticized Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of State Licensing and Regulatory Affairs for trampling on a time-honored Upper Peninsula tradition.

The U.P. State Fair, held outside in Escanaba every August, was canceled on Tuesday. According to LaFave, LARA threatened to revoke Escanaba-based Skerbeck Carnival’s license if it decided to go forward with the fair and running amusement rides. The carnival serves as a main attraction for the annual event.

“Gov. Whitmer’s administration is hurting local UP jobs with this move,” LaFave said. “She can march with thousands of protestors in metro Detroit during her own lockdown, but Upper Peninsula residents can’t have a state fair outside in August. This is just another example of our traditions being ripped away by the governor.”

LaFave pointed out that the pressure applied to remove the carnival from the event goes against where the region is at in the governor’s six-phase reopening plan. Since Michigan’s first reported COVID-19 cases in early March, Delta County has reported just 20 COVID-19 cases and three deaths out of over 70,000 total cases and over 6,000 deaths statewide.

“We’re in Phase 5, which is containing. Island Resort and Casino is 15 miles west of the UP State Fairgrounds and has been operating for more than six weeks. They’ve shown everyone exactly how to operate a large-scale, indoor business safely for their customers and employees. Because of their extensive health and safety screenings, there are absolutely no cases linked to the casino as of today,” LaFave said. “But the governor feels it necessary to micro-manage UP life with arbitrary rules that don’t match up with the data or her own plan related to COVID-19.

“I understand that some people are concerned about their safety and may not want to attend. I support that choice. But the fair should be available for the many people who would like to resume a more normal way of life safely.”

LaFave noted many young people bring livestock and other animals to the event to be auctioned off to help pay for college tuition, and that opportunity is in jeopardy this year due to the governor’s cancellation.

“I feel terrible for those kids,” LaFave said. “The UP Fair Authority and fair management deserve our thanks for developing a plan in consultation with UP health professionals on how to operate the fair safely and sensibly – using extensive safety measures that included mandatory facemasks, temperature checks at every entrance, limiting occupancy and strict enforcement to meet social distancing guidelines and other various things to keep people protected. This plan was submitted to the Whitmer administration, but it was rejected.

“It’s a shame all of the hard work that went into putting this incredibly popular event on will be wasted because of the governor’s administration.”

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