MARQUETTE - The 2013 Downtown Marquette Blueberry Festival saw a record rainfall in Marquette, the downpour dropping the number of participants and causing some vendors to pack it in early.
A total of .88 of an inch of rain fell, passing the old record of .65 of an inch set in 1973, according to the National Weather Service.
"Before the heavy downpour, we were off to a good start," said Becky Salmon, assistant director of the Downtown Development Authority, which hosts the annual event. "There seemed to be a lot of people out, enjoying the festival. Unfortunately, after the rain came, it sort of dwindled somewhat."
The rainy weather didn't stop some people from checking out the food and jewelry vendors and enjoying the entertainment offered during the 12th annual Blueberry Festival in downtown Marquette Friday afternoon. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
Amy Zelenka, right, of Berry U.P. Blueberries in Grand Haven accepts money from Dylan Dionne of Marquette and his grandmother Kris, during the 12th annual Blueberry Festival in downtown Marquette on Friday afternoon. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
People mill about on Washington Street in downtown Marquette Friday afternoon listening to music from a trombone quartet sponsored by Northern Michigan University and trying to keep dry in the rainy weather during the 12th annual Blueberry Festival. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
From right, Maureen and Max Spiessl of Spiessl Produce bag cartons of blueberries at their table despite the rainy weather during the 12th annual Blueberry Festival in downtown Marquette Friday afternoon. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
With more than 100 vendors - comprised of street vendors and downtown businesses offering special deals during the festival - participants had a range of products to choose from and activities to view, between the rain drops.
Most of the day's planned events, such as the youth talent show and various musical artists scheduled to play, carried on despite the rain, though the medieval combat performance was affected.
"We were supposed to have medieval combat demonstrations, but the weather put a little bit of a damper on that," said Lizzie Corser, marketing and administrative assistant for the DDA.
However, many people donned raincoats or ponchos, and grabbed an umbrella, deciding to head out to enjoy any one of the numerous blueberry treats offered during the festival.
"We've had some hardy folks stay for the duration," Salmon said.
Festival-goers were treated to an array of blueberry-themed delights, from blueberry cheesecake, beer, pop, pie and pizza to discounts on blue clothing or blue paint.
A number of local artists were also packed into the downtown area, on Washington and Front streets, as were different children's activities and even pony rides.
And the festival continues today with the fourth annual Blueberry Pie Contest, set to take place during the Downtown Marquette Farmers and Artists Market this morning.
The contest is open to amateur bakers only and is free to entrants.
Participants must show up before 10:30 a.m. and must bring a copy of the recipe used as well as a serving utensil.
Judging will begin at 11 a.m, with the top three pie-makers earning prizes provided by local businesses and farmers.
Though Friday's festival was hampered by the weather - with much of Marquette County seeing at least one to two inches of rainfall Friday, according to the National Weather Service - the day's organizers felt the festival did well.
"We really did have a wonderful start to the morning and we had quite a few people on the street," Corser said. "It was packed from sidewalk to sidewalk. It's one of those risks you take when you host an outdoor event."
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is jstark@miningjournal. net.