Harborfest to rock out Marquette’s lower harbor

By Pam Christensen

Marquette West Rotary Club hosts Harborfest in Marquette’s Mattson Lower Harbor Park each August. This family-friendly festival combines live music, a classic car show, children’s inflatable activities, a bag toss competition, a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter, U.P. Luge Association demonstration, antique wooden canoes and boats, food vendors and fun for Friday and Saturday, August 25 and 26. There is truly something for everyone offered by this festival.

Over 30 years ago, members of the Marquette West Rotary Club established Seafood Fest. This festival focused on a variety of seafood offerings prepared by club members and volunteers. As seafood has become a more commonplace offering at local restaurants, the festival has evolved from a food centric event to a family focused community festival.

Local food vendors have replaced the seafood tents. This year, the festival offers a wide variety of food and beverages. The beer and wine tent will feature beverages for adults while food tents will offer soft drinks and water. Food vendors will be Outlanders, Rollin’ Smoke Barbeque, Superior Mobile Koney, Copper Crust Pizza, Digs, Oscar’s Ice Cream Treats and Senor’s Food Truck.

Music has always been a draw for the festival. The event features local acts as well as nationally known performers. Several years ago, Marquette West Rotary Club organizers started featuring a tribute band evoking the concert experience of rock and roll legends. This formula has worked very well for the club, and this year’s headline act with be Kashmir. This Chicago-based group is the nation’s foremost Led Zeppelin tribute show.

Billed as the most authentic representation of Led Zeppelin on the modern national touring scene, each of the four band members assumes the role of an original band member with pinpoint accuracy. Kashmir brings fans back to the days when mighty Led Zeppelin ruled the musical landscape. Kashmir features Page’s iconic double-neck guitar, Bonham’s drum solo and the greatest hits that resonate with audiences of all ages. Kashmir will play on Saturday night from 8:30 to 11 p.m.

Returning to the festival this year will be Bumpus. This local favorite out of Chicago delights fans with their original music and beloved cover hits. Their powerful brand of soul music channels the uplifting energy of Sly and the Family Stone, the excitement of James Brown and the reflective cool of Marvin Gaye. Led by singers James Johnston, Ava Fain and Tina Howell, they bring together funky big beats, deep bass, lush JB Horns and a heavy organ sound that result in a high-octane musical funk frenzy. Bumpus will appear Friday evening from 9 to 11 p.m.

Local favorites will also be featured at the festival. The smooth acoustic modern country and classic rock and roll music performed by Gerry and Allison Brown always delight the crowd. This couple will play on Friday from 4:45 to 6:15 p.m.

Andy Langlois and the Blackrocks House Band will step out of the brewery and onto the stage on Friday from 6:45 to 8:15 p.m. This group of local musicians never fails to deliver and surprise during a performance. Their TrapRock and Jam Folk style will be the perfect warm-up act for Bumpus at 9 p.m.

Kashmir, a Led Zeppelin tribute band, will perform during Harbor Fest, which runs August 25 to 26 in Mattson Lower Harbor Park. (Photo courtesy of MWRC)

Friday and Saturday are filled with excitement as the kids blow up bouncy houses and games, classic cars and motorcycles, UP Luge Association demonstrations, South Shore Fishing Tournament, Double Trouble Entertainment Bag Toss Tourney, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter and antique wooden canoes take center stage on the event grounds.

Double Trouble Entertainment will host the first Harbor Fest Bag Toss Tournament. Come practice on Friday night and register your team. Tickets are $30 per team of two, which includes at least two games of corn hole and two beer tickets (over 21 only). The tournament will be double elimination and will pay out a cash prize for first and second place teams. Only 60 teams will be allowed. Teams can be registered on the Marquette West Rotary website or prior to the tournament.

The South Shore Fishing Tournament will again be held during the festival. The boats take off at 6 a.m. on Saturday. Live catch and release activities will be held from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., when the fish weigh in and awards ceremony will be held.

The Wooden Canoe Heritage Association is dedicated to preserving, restoring and using wooden and bark canoes. The local chapter will have 20 antique boats and wooden canoes on display on Friday and Saturday. Harbor Fest is a perfect opportunity to learn more about the history of these sleek canoes and talk to owners and restorers about the joys and challenges of preserving a bit of nautical history.

Beginning at 11 a.m. on Sunday, August 27, Lower Harbor Park will be filled with classic cars and motorcycles. This free shine-and-show event will include over 100 vehicles between the festival tents and Kids Cove Playground. The show runs until 4 p.m. and is an excellent opportunity to take a leisurely stroll back in time to see firsthand the variety of automobiles and motorcycles that have been produced over the past 100-plus years.

The Marquette Maritime Museum and U.S. Coast Guard will host free public tours of a 200 foot long cutter during Friday afternoon and Saturday. Of course, weather and emergency missions will dictate the actual amount of time the ship and crew will be in Marquette.

Saturday bands feature a variety of sounds for audience enjoyment. Sahl Metivier from Marquette will play a mix of old and new songs. He will be on stage from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

The Pit Crew is a veteran U.P.-based band and crowd favorite. Featuring Kurt Gronvall, Kim Lenten and Linda Smith on acoustic guitar and Seamus Collins on acoustic bass and cello, all four musicians perform vocals from the singer-songwriter era. They will entertain audiences from 2:30 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Marquette-based band Lumi has been described as a progressive funk fusion groove jelly. Featuring Ry Bry on guitar, Ross Larson on guitar and vocals, Tom Tarkleson on keys, Wyatt Smith on drums and Daniel LaBar on bass guitar, the group will perform on Saturday from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.

Trailer Hitch will get the crowd ready for Kashmir with their country sound from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. on Saturday. This hard country music fivesome will delight fans with Kim Parlato on guitar and vocals, Tom Osier on guitar, Tim Thomas on vocals and bass guitar, Paul Neuman on drums and Joanne Garrow on fiddle.

The festival entertainment will conclude after a sure-to-please performance by Kashmir on Saturday evening from 8:30 to 11 p.m.

The Marquette West Rotary Club Harborfest is a fundraising activity supporting local non-profit organizations. The Marquette West Rotary Foundation has distributed over $700,000 through a competitive grant process over the past 30 years. Additional information about the Marquette West Rotary Club and  this year’s Harborfest is available online at  marquettewestrotary.org.


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