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Weird Wax figure.

Michigan Gets Weird In Wax

Michigan's upper peninsula (U.P.) has long been known as a haven for oddball behavior. Now a dozen of the best examples of this -- a hearty meat pie pasty of kooks -- are on display in the Weird Michigan Wax Museum, which opens June 11, 2007. It's just down the road from the St. Ignace Mystery Spot, which means that the two attractions now comprise their own zone of freakishness within a larger region of discombobulation.

J.B. and Neal Bieske have wanted to create this attraction for the past ten years. Ken Witzgall, their nephew, has been recruited to run the place. "It's not saying that the U.P. is weird," he told us as he hammered something into place. "It's just weird instances that have happened around here."

Ken cited some examples of the museum's honorees, such as James Strang, a Mormon who declared himself to be king of a local island (and who was eventually assassinated by his subjects); the U.P.'s Wolfman/Dogman (who some say is actually a Bigfoot); and Madame Helena Modjeska, an actress who was born in Poland and died in southern California, but somehow ended up as a ghost in a theater in Calumet.

Weird wax figure.

Ken told us that the 12 current weirdoes are just a start, and that the museum hopes to expand its membership. "This is basically just the core idea," he said.

We asked Witzgall, who previously worked in a coffee shop in Kalamazoo, if he had been scouting possible new inductees since his arrival. "There's an interesting set of guys up here," he told us. "I've run into grizzled old fishermen who want to show me their guns." But Ken seems content to leave the selection process to others, and to not put too much stress on the "museum" aspect of this attraction.

"We do strive to be historically accurate in our references," he told us. "It's just that the displays are more tongue-in-cheek representations of those references."

I-75 exit 344, onto US Hwy 2 West for a couple of miles, north side of road at the intersection of Martin Lake Rd, just west of the Deer Ranch.
Sept. 2011: Reported closed.

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