Chamber Director's Blog

County Fair Reflections--Where The Cultural & Commercial Intersect

The Gogebic County Fair ended Sunday night, August 11.  By 8:30 p.m., your Chamber Director had the Chamber booth all taken down, boxed up, and carted out to the car.  This year's weather was outstanding:  not hot and no rain!  

     The GCF is almost one hundred years old.  It was started in a time when this area was awash in people, massive extractive industry (mostly owned by people who did not live here), and a mix of agricultural and trade/commercial enterprises.  Now, in 2019, the extractives (and their owners) are gone, the population is but a shadow of its former self, and an new mix of commercial entrepreneuership is begining to develop.  Elements of this new mix were in evidence at the Fair, from large displays of recreational vehicles to a youth educational hands-on by Waupaca Foundry Plant #7, a new Ironwood industrial business.  Culturally, the traditional "fair" things were still in evidence:  homemaking entries, fabric entries, 4-H animal and art entries, the "midway rides," tractor pulls, harness racing, cotton candy, and live music at both a small stage and the grandstand.  All in all it was an experience that celebrates and lifts up both our sodio-economic traditions as well as providing some hints as to new directions.   Fairs are also a time of people greeting, re-uniting, and making life transitions.  Sunday especiallly is a day where the full range of human interactions can be seen, whether "oldsters" meeting up and greeting (both local and returning visitors) or (as the Director remembers from his own every-year rural county fair attendance) where teenagers wander around in groups or couples, knowing that summer is ending, and school--with its new opportunities--awaits.  The grass is all worn down from thousands of people stomping on it.  Tired 4-H'ers and the parents load up their precious livestock and head home.  Prize winners collect their ribbons.  Taken all together, the instituion of the County Fair is a critically important one to our (or any) county.  It's concept history stretches back over a 1000 years, and it in many ways is STILL capable of achieving positive social and economic goals.  The Ironwood Chamber is very happy to play a small part, and we very much hope that as evaluation and planning starts toward 2020, that new possibilities for the Fair are not overlooked and that an increased interactive outreach will bring an even better Fair next year!!!

Gogebic County Chambers Fair Booth

It is "tilt-a-whirl", cotton candy, and 4-H time!  Again this year the Ironwood, Lake Gogebic, and Wakefield Chambers of Commerce will be having a booth in the Exhibition Building at the Gogebic County Fair, Thursday August 8 through Sunday, August 11.  Stop by and say hello!!  We are at the West end of the building, just down from the 4-H Ice Cream booth.  In addition to area maps, business brochures, and Western U.P. travel guides, this year our booth will feature a section devoted to Gogebic Community College.  Watch for our big IronwoodGO banner!  We are easy to find and have lot's of free stuff that tells about our area.  Get your Ironwood Destination Guide and Lake Gogebic Times at our booth!   See you at the Fair!

Foundry In A Box

Waupaca Foundry held the Grand Opening of its new Ironwood plant on July 18.  And, they are bringing to the Gogebic County Fair on 10 Saturday and 11 Sunday August their innovative "Foundry In A Box" for the youth.  Designed to awaken interest in craftsmanship and metalworking, this unique hand-on experience will be an excellent addition to the Fair's overall community celebration of the skills and products of our area.  Stop out and see them!   

Festival Ironwood-July 17-20

July has arrived, and with it comes Festival Ironwood!  These four days of fun, food, activities, and live music highlight both Ironwood's past as well as its present.  On this website you will find registration forms for the Old Depot Car Show, the Arts & Crafts Fair, and the Walk, Run, & Roll Saturday morning race.  Just go to for the full schedule! Scroll to the schedule's end and you will see the above forms to download and print out.   This Monday the full Festival Ironwood Committee met here at the Depot to review the final organizational activites required to put this event on.  You may not notice, but even though the Festival starts on Wednesday, July 17, set-up activites get started the previous week.  Many, many community volunteers work to put on this stellar event!   Tell you friends.  Share our FB posts (especially the Festival Ironwood FB page).  Above all, come on down to the Festival and experience the warmth of summer and good community fellowship.

Hiawatha Restoration Status & Raffle

It looks like the Hiawatha Restoration is still on track, though the time of the work is being moved to the first part of August rather than July.  Again, here are the winners of the Restoration Raffle:  053 = Dan Bratu; 323 = Steve Sizemore, 008 = Tina Steiger, 399 = Linda Mattila, 088 = Kaye Longhini, 021 = Ron Jacobson.