Sun and fun in Pelkie

PELKIE – The weather couldn’t have been better for the Baraga County Fair, and three days of fun in the sun wrapped up Sunday at the Pelkie fairgrounds.

Overall attendance estimates were down slightly, according to Dave Hoskins, fair board president, though exact numbers are not kept and attendance fluctuated throughout the weekend.

“It was a success as far as the people who did attend,” he said. “Overall, it was a nice weekend with nice weather.”

Shawnia Taisto, a soon-to-be senior at L’Anse High School, certainly thought the fair was a success after she was crowned queen Friday night.

“I think this fair is actually really good. It’s better than the last couple years, and there’s definitely a lot more people than there was before,” she said.

Taisto won a competition against seven other high-school-aged queen candidates, a larger field than the five who competed in last year’s Miss Teen pageant for middle-school-aged girls. After a question-and-answer interview earlier in the week with a panel of judges, she clinched the win by delivering a speech Friday night about the benefits of living in a small, rural community like Baraga County.

“I just liked how Baraga County comes out and supports everyone when families are in need or new businesses come to town,” Taisto summarized Saturday afternoon between activities.

The close-knit nature of the community could be felt at the fair, too, with plenty of familiar faces creating a welcoming, relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.

“We usually like this fair better just because it’s more laid back and agricultural,” said Jennifer Eikenberry from Hancock, who was at the fair with her husband Dan and children Jonathan and Corbin.

Among the agricultural elements were horse shows throughout the weekend, livestock judging, a market steer, lamb and hog auction, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Fish Hatchery trout pond and a small animal barn to look through.

Various performers entertained attendees throughout the weekend, including several musicians, a magician and Bruce Belanger and Missy Sundholm with the Great Lakes Timber Show, who put on five shows throughout the weekend.

Before Baraga County, the timber show was at the Ohio State Fair, where Belanger said there were 115,000 people at the fair in one day, but they catered to the audience of a few dozen for most of their shows in Pelkie.

Belanger, an Escanaba native, founded the show more than 30 years ago, and Sundholm, from Felch, has been log rolling for just as long. The tandem entertained crowds with chainsaw carving, ax throwing, and of course a humorous log rolling competition between Sundholm, a lightweight, and Belanger, a self-professed “old, balding fat man.”

In between their noon and 4 p.m. show Saturday, Belanger helped round out a small field of competitors in a pie-eating contest that almost didn’t take place due to low registration numbers. But, typical of the small-town style, friends wrangled up other friends to complete a field of 10 competitors.

Other events during the weekend included an ATV Challenge, a Friday fireworks show, a mud bog and a demolition derby.

Results from the events will be posted to the fair website,, and the Baraga County Fair Facebook page.