By Carol Stiffler

Newberry resident Mikal Doke is someone we should all know.

Doke, whose first name is pronounced like “Michael”, is a wife, mother, and teacher who has also committed her spare time to resurrecting the Luce-West Mackinac County Fair. She grew up in tiny Bliss, Michigan, just below the Mackinac Bridge.

After college, she got a job teaching in Connecticut before moving to Newberry in 2009 to accept a teaching position at Tahquamenon Area Schools. In 2014, she began teaching at Whitefish Township Community Schools in Paradise. She’s still there, teaching English and history to students in grades 6-12.

“I love my job. I get to talk about books all day,” Doke said. “I like spending the day teaching them things they might not know, and seeing that light bulb moment when they understand something.”

Those light bulb moments happen often, she said. And believe it or not, she finds working with teenagers easier than working with some adults.

Whitefish Township Community Schools has a current student population of 45 total in grades kindergarten through 12. That makes it feel like family to Doke, and she loves that they can all pile onto one bus and the whole school can take a field trip together.

“There’s no room for drama,” said Doke, who is quietly and kindly powerful. “You have to get along; we’re such a small little family.”

She’s married to Eric Doke and the pair are raising Dane, 15, Delilah, 11, and Dezi, 9. They have a busy household that includes three cats, one dog, and live in a house built in 1900 that they’ve been in the process of renovating for 14 years. Doke loves to cook, bake, and do artsy things like photography. She helped when artist Thomas Dambo came to Germfask to construct Benny Beardfisher on the Northland Outfitters campground.

As if that weren’t enough, Doke has spent the last two years learning the ins and outs of the Luce-West Mackinac County Fair, which has seen a dramatic drop in attendance in the last couple decades.

“I wanted to be part of something community based,” Doke said. She had experience helping with the Paradise Blueberry Festival and knew she could be helpful here.

Doke said she has called every carnival company in Michigan, and some in Wisconsin, inquiring about bringing them to our fair. All but one said no. The one that didn’t refuse is booked in 2024 but said they may be able to come in 2025.

In the meantime, Doke will focus on the fairgrounds and will look to the community to contribute what and how they can – be that through money, volunteer time, or providing needed materials.

Doke lives up to her own world standard: That everyone should help everyone.