Since 2012, the UPstarts program has provided young emerging singers and instrumentalists from the Upper Peninsula the opportunity to perform in a professional music festival. Chosen by a U.P.-wide talent contest, the artists tour all three areas of the festival (Houghton, Marquette, and Dickinson counties), meeting audiences of all sizes in different performance settings. These concerts (accompanied by Susie Byykkonen, the festival's staff accompanist) provide the artists with important experiences on the concert stage and give audiences a chance to enjoy the impressive level of talent that comes from local communities.