The Blueberry Festival
Once a year in July, the streets of downtown Marquette are full of sidewalk sales, food vendors, artists, demonstrations, pony rides, inflatable arcade games, and activities for children and families. Although, the main attraction of this event is actually blueberries, which is where the cleverly coined title, Blueberry Festival, comes from. The town’s history with blueberries goes back to when early Native Americans would use wildfires to help the blueberries grow, since they are typically more abundant after wildfires. So when the UP was being cleared of white pine with fire, this provided an ideal environment for wild blueberries to grow. There was such an abundance of this “blue gold”, that it was shipped to Chicago and Detroit in the early 20th century before cultivated varieties of blueberries had been developed yet, and helped kickstart a new industry.
This industry has carried its popularity through the decades to give rise to the Marquette Blueberry Festival, as well as similar festivals in several other parts of the Upper Peninsula. Not only are there endless supplies of fried food vendors, handmade trinkets from Marquette residents, and live music, you can also dare to try blueberry flavored…everything. As you walk down Washington and Front Streets, downtown restaurants will introduce you to their own interesting food concoctions, from blueberry pizza to blueberry beer. Then after this, there’s a dance festival, where you can watch professional dancers show off their skills and even take free workshops to join in on the excitement. If you’re not too interested in actually being part of the show, then come watch the local karate academy demonstration and medieval armored combat demonstration, then head over the Pocket Park to end the night with a series of live musicians.