We were happy to hear that this past weekend was a success for area events, despite an absolutely unseasonal weather pattern that brought showers and saw daytime highs stall in the mid-50s.
Locals and visitors to the area brushed the brisk weather aside and joined in the fun, partaking in a handful of annual festivals and events that marked one of the busiest weekends on Marquette County's summer calendar.
The final weekend of July kicked off Friday with the Blueberry Festival, a downtown gathering of vendors and musicians that is annually organized and sponsored by the city's Downtown Development Authority. This year's festival was hampered by a record rainfall that left some spectators and vendors seeking shelter, but was an overall success that drew crowds to Washington Street and highlighted some great local talent and treats.
The following morning brought with it the 55th incarnation of Art on the Rocks, sponsored by the Lake Superior Art Association. The festival was a major attraction, as per usual, and drew huge crowds - typically, the spectators number about 15,000 - once again. More than 120 arts, crafts and food vendors filled the city's Mattson Lower Harbor Park and enjoyed much drier conditions than Friday.
Meanwhile, just to the north of the Lower Harbor, the Outback Art Fair offered a strong complement to Art on the Rocks. Though the weather likely hampered the turnout to some degree, vendors and organizers at both gatherings reported high interest and strong sales. We were pleased to see a reasonably large turnout to these events and were also excited to see a number of very talented local artists represented.
Things were also busy on the west end this weekend, especially at Ishpeming's Al Quaal Recreation Area, where the St. Rocco-St. Anthony Society of Ishpeming once again oversaw a great event. There, thousands turned out for the 114th Italian Fest to celebrate both the community and the shared history of local Italian-Americans.
The Ishpeming society - much like the Marquette DDA and the LSAA - is a fantastic reflection on the community and we are pleased that these groups continue stepping up, year after year, to host such great events.
We'll see you all again in 2014.