Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Goin‘ to the Fair
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Goin‘ to the Fair

Rick Coates - August 4th, 2008
This week the Northwestern Michigan Fair (NWMF) celebrates its 100th anniversary. It is probably the longest ongoing event in Northern Michigan. I am proud to say that I had a small part in its 100-year history. I was co-responsible for the song “Goin’ To The Fair” and the commercial that it accompanies.
This is a dangerous admission because that jingle, while loved by many, has become an annoyance for others. But it served its purpose back in 1988 when it was created, and remains the “brand” for the Northwestern Michigan Fair today.
Now, I can’t take sole credit for creating this song and commercial. David Williams (of the Williams Brothers Cherry Festival float fame) and John Wrocklage deserve the real credit. They were the commercial production team for TV 7&4 at the time. Jim Sullivan, who was the commercial production manager also deserves a lot of credit since he authorized the making of the commercial as a donation to a then financially-struggling NWMF.

When I was hired by the Fair Board in 1987 to be the day-to-day manager, the NWMF was in somewhat of a state of turmoil. It was in serious debt. In fact, I remember picking up my first paycheck and the treasurer telling me if I wanted “to get paid again, I was going to have to go out and raise some money because there was not enough in the account to make payroll at the end of the month.”
The Fair also was faced with deteriorating buildings. In addition, it had an image problem. The National Cherry Festival and the Vasa had surpassed it as the main events of the region. Attendance at the Fair had been in sharp decline since it moved in the early ’70s from where the Civic Center (the former home to the fairgrounds) is today, to the current fairground location near Chums Corners. That move hurt the Fair. Going from the center of Traverse City to what at the time seemed to be the middle of nowhere, it fell victim to ‘out of sight, out of mind.’
So I rolled up my sleeves and got busy in order to keep my promises to the board – creating an innovative marketing campaign, a sponsorship program, and developing year-round revenue sources for the Fair.

One day Wayne Bancroft (the guy holding the pitch fork singing the song), who was the president of the Fair Board at the time, told me that an auction was going to take place at the fairgrounds on an early spring Saturday afternoon. Bancroft was both a successful dairy farmer and an auctioneer.
While listening to Bancroft auctioneering, the idea for the “Goin’ To The Fair” commercial came to me. I quickly headed to my office and jotted down the outline for what eventually would become the commercial -- well, sort of.
The following Monday I had to travel to Cheboygan for a meeting for all fairs in Northern Michigan. On my way -- it was 5:30 a.m. -- I saw the TV 29 & 8 production truck at the gas station. Because I was so excited about my idea for a commercial, I approached them. The two production staffers were somewhat taken aback as I was spitting out that I was the NWMF manager and what I wanted to do. They said they were headed to the Upper Peninsula and to call them at their office on Tuesday.
After my day-long meeting in Cheboygan I headed back to Traverse City and on the way decided to stop at La Senorita in Petoskey for dinner. As I walked in I saw the two production staffers from TV 29 & 8. They recognized me and invited me to join them for dinner.
I outlined my idea to them. What I had envisioned was Wayne Bancroft, dressed in overalls with a straw hat and pitchfork, walking around Northern Michigan with a cow on a leash. He would be on the beach and kids would run up to him asking where he was going. Bancroft in his auction voice would respond, “Goin’ to the Fair, Goin’ to the Northwestern Michigan Fair,” and then he would quickly rattle off the events at the Fair. Another commercial would have him at Chums Corner at the stoplight with a Pepsi truck (the major sponsor that year) in the lane next to him. The driver was asking him what he was doing.
The two staffers from 29 & 8 looked at each other and almost in unison said there is only one person capable of making this happen. David Williams at TV 7 & 4.

The next day I called David, asking him to meet about creating a commercial for the NWMF. When I arrived at the production offices, Jim Rockledge and Jim Sullivan joined us. I quickly laid out my vision to the three of them. I remember they all had this look on their faces and were probably thinking, “What has this guy been smoking?”
“I remember that day,” said David Williams, who still coordinates commercial production for TV 7 & 4. “What we were thinking was ‘wow,’ this was the first time someone had come in to push us creatively. This was advertising agency stuff you were asking for. When you left we immediately began letting that creative process work to try and meet this challenge.”
Williams and Rockledge immediately went to work on developing the concept that would eventually become the “Goin’ To The Fair,” commercial.
“While we were intrigued with your original concept, we knew we couldn’t pull it off logistically and from a timing perspective,” said Williams. “So we had to modify it.”
I have saved a lot of memorabilia from the making of the commercial. On my home office desk sits the cow that starred in the commercial (it was part of a salt and pepper shaker set Williams purchased at Meijer). I also have all of the outtakes of the making of the commercial. My most prized possession is the voice mail recording of Williams and me going back and forth singing the song and with ideas for changes. No worries, David: with my lack of vocal talent those tapes will remain locked away.

Williams and Wrocklage went around and shot a lot of b-roll of area landmarks like the Makinac Bridge, the sand dunes, The trout in Kalkaska and the Blue Angels. They called Dill’s Saloon and recruited Golden Garter Revue musician John Lane to dress the female part of the “American Gothic” painting and play the banjo.
We also shot the commercial at the Bugai farm around the corner from TV 7 & 4. It was known as the Five Gals Ranch because they had five daughters and because it was a dairy farm. It was raining that day and we shot the film underneath a tree and part of a barn overhang.
Poor Wayne Bancroft was not given much rehearsal time. Then to make matters more challenging for him, the three of us made changes to the lyrics during the shooting. Finally, after at least 30 attempts, we thought we had a good version of the commercial. During the playback we noticed that some of the cows in the background were pooping so we had to start all over.
Eventually the perfect clip was shot, and as they say, the rest is history. The commercial won several awards. Locally it took home Best of
Show at the Max Awards (the local advertising club annual awards program). It won the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Best Television
Commercial for that year, beating out the popular Domino’s Pizza “Noid” commercial.
It also won the International Association of Fairs and Expositions Best Television Campaign of 1988 Award. The commercial was shown to 2,500 in attendance at the awards dinner in Las Vegas.

When the commercial first appeared on TV 7 & 4 it caught on literally overnight. Because the Fair had limited funds we were unable to air it on the other stations. But it was so popular that the other stations began running it for free. Wrocklage and Williams even made a radio version because radio stations wanted to play it. I also appeared on several local news programs and radio talk shows.
The commercial played a major role in making the 80th Fair one of the most successful to date. Attendance increased by 45% from the prior year. It was also the most financially successful Fair to date.
The popularity of the commercial spread with other fairs contacting Williams and Wrocklage to produce a commercial for them.
“The Alaska State Fair wanted the commercial, but when we started factoring in the airfare it just wasn’t going to be feasible,” said Williams.
The commercial still has staying power even 20 years later. To celebrate, TV 7 & 4 held a competition asking contestants to perform the song. The five semi-finalist entries are available online to view at TV7-4.com. The winning contestants video will appear this week on TV 7 & 4.
The Northwestern Michigan Fair continues to use the commercial, though modified from its original format. Wayne Bancroft who appears has had his version of the song voiced over by Larry Avery.
I asked David Williams if he thought this commercial was going to last forever. For some reason, once that song gets on your mind,you find yourself singing it in your head over and over.
“Rick, I think we have created a musical virus that there is no known cure for,” laughs Williams. “What is real scary is we have all of these people from all over the country in town for the Film Festival hearing this song. They are going back to their homes and spreading this virus.”
As for those responsible for this “musical virus”: Williams remains at TV 7 & 4. Jim Wrocklage worked for years at Brauer Productions in Traverse City before recently moving to Florida. Jim Sullivan has his own commercial production company in Traverse City. Wayne Bancroft is still active as an auctioneer in the area. John Lane has moved away from the region and is probably a musician somewhere. As for me, I am right here at the Northern Express.

To learn more about all of the activities at this week’s 100th Northwestern Michigan Fair check out northwestermichiganfair.net or call their office 231.943.4150. The website has a complete listing of all activities as well as the 100 year history of the Fair.
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10.03.2011 at 12:53 Reply

I love this commercial and I sing that song every time I hear the word fair. I have been looking on the internet for hours trying to find a video of it and I can't seem to find one. I have looked on the TV7-4 website and they don't have it up. Is there anywhere I could find this peice of my childhood?