HOUGHTON — With many summer celebrations taking place throughout the Keweenaw and the Upper Peninsula, attendees may notice some familiar faces from one event to the next.
Many vendors who make a living in the traveling road show business participate in as many events as possible in the summer months.
One Houghton man who is new to the county fair scene, has used his UP clothing line to give back to his community.
In the middle of June Kestner Park was host to the annual Bridgefest celebration bringing many Keweenaw and UP residents to the Houghton–Hancock area for things like chicken bingo, rubber duck races, and unique arts and crafts from area vendors.
One of those vendors was Phil Vasquez who was selling T shirts, and other garments that were all customized with a UP slogan or icon. This is Phil’s first year selling his items in a public setting, and with a good response to his products, he will be attending many more outdoor events this summer.
“We are at the local fairs. The Up State Fair Coming up from the 13th to the 19th. We are also at the Dickenson County Fair, and the Marquette County Fair,” said Phil Vasquez, who is the CEO of Diamond House International.
As bridgefest came to a close with the conclusion of it’s traditional fireworks display, it began to rain. We now refer to that storm as the Father’s Day Flood, that wiped out over 100 roadways, damaged over 600 homes, and claimed the life of 12 year old, Thatcher Markham.
As Houghton county began to pick up the pieces and move forward, a new slogan emerged and it’s been a household phrase since the middle of June. Copper Country Strong. It’s been on local marquis, it’s been on the lips of just about everyone in the Copper Country, and it’s now on more of Phil’s T shirts that has allowed him to donate the proceeds of those sales to the family of young Thatcher.
“We were blessed to be able to give back a check that we donated too the Thatcher Markham Fund,” said Vasquez.
That check was over 5,000 dollars and is one example of just how generous folks can be in a time like this. So far over 100,000 dollars have been raised for the fund with a go fund me site.
“I’ve always said I’d be charitable organization type of company. My heart is there and my heart goes out,” Vasquez added.
While Houghton County continues to make it’s repairs and move forward, it’s back to business for many. The road commission has a full slate, The DNR is doing its part to restore our trails and bring back the tourist who ride them, and for Phil and his company, it’s back to printing and selling T shirts.
When I asked him what it feels like when he sees someone wearing one of his shirts, he said this.
“It’s the best feeling ever. It’s hard to explain. It means a lot. It means the world to us and to show that we’re Yoop Boys and Yoop Girls, we are straight out of the sticks of 906. The laughs and the comments that we get as people walk by our booths is amazing. It’s funny and pretty awesome.”