Blueberry Festival returns to downtown Marquette

This year’s festival featured fewer vendors than usual to promote social distancing.
Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 6:52 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The streets of downtown Marquette bustled with activity on Friday at the annual Blueberry Festival.

The community enjoyed blueberry-themed foods and drinks, as well as games and activities.

“People love Blueberry Fest; they love the tradition of it,” said Tara Laase-McKinney, events and promotions coordinator for the Marquette Downtown Development Authority (DDA). “It’s been going on for well over 20 years now, and it’s just something that everybody looks forward to every year.”

Last year, Blueberry Fest was replaced with other COVID-safe events. This year’s festival was scaled back, with about 70% of the usual vendors in attendance. All booths were spaced out to promote social distancing.

Attendees said it was an adjustment being back among large crowds, but they enjoyed the return of Blueberry Fest.

“It’s wonderful,” said Ishpeming resident George Ward. “It feels a little bit back to normal, and it’s really enjoyable. It’s been a blast.”

“It’s a little strange getting used to it, but I’m definitely glad that we’re having it this year,” said Lily Belmore of Marquette. “I’ve been coming to Blueberry Fest every year since I was a little girl, so I feel like I have to be here every year now!”

For one vendor, another thing that made this year’s festival stand out was how difficult it was to find enough blueberries to make the event a success.

“We only were able to get 300 pounds due to the early frost that we had this year and the lack of rain,” said Hilija Spiessl, manager of Spiessl Produce. “Blueberries in the woods are really difficult to find, so it was lucky for us that we were able to get some.”

In addition to yummy snacks and fun activities, the Marquette DDA says Blueberry Fest is all about bringing people together, especially in 2021.

“It feels great to be able to bring the community out and help them have a great day out on the streets of downtown Marquette, and it feels great to support our businesses as well,” Laase-McKinney said.

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