A successful Seafood Fest

HOUGHTON – Despite low temperatures and rain, thousands of people came to the Houghton waterfront for their annual taste of lobster, mussels and more at the Houghton Rotary’s Seafood Fest.

The 27th annual festival took place Friday and Saturday at the Ray Kestner Waterfront Park.

Final numbers aren’t in yet, said Bill Musselman, chair of Seafood Fest. Friday night was colder than they would have liked, Musselman said. But the crowd was “amazing,” in part because Bridgefest’s move to this weekend concentrated more people in the park.

With that head start from Friday, the Rotary sold out of a number of items by the end of Saturday.

“Saturday was certainly a lot better than Friday,” Musselman said.

“A lot more people showed up, and the weather was warmer, later into the evening. So it was a pretty steady crowd on Saturday.”

Throughout Friday and Saturday, people were at the park eating a number of succulent dishes or listening to a succession of lively music.

Chris and Sarah Fraley were at Seafood Fest for the first time. Chris, a Michigan Technological University graduate, was up here for a project at the Cliff Mine.

“We saw the Seafood Fest sign where you drive in, and we said ‘Okay,'” Sarah said.

Joe Campioni of Houghton was eating with his wife Angela and their son Cayden, 7.

“We like the food, and it’s a great event, a fun event,” Joe said.

Angela agreed.

“We see friends all the time here,” she said. “It’s a nice event, and it raises money for a good cause. It feels like summer when you go to Seafood Fest.”

Seafood Fest’s Hero Awards, now in their second year, were presented Saturday afternoon. Recognized were Brian Lasanen of the Houghton Police Department, Butch Carter of the Michigan State Police, Phil Helminen of the Houghton County Sheriff’s Department, Marc Geborkoff of Michigan Technological University Public Safety and Police Services, Matt McCormick of Michigan Technological University EMS, Kathy Abbott of Stanton Township First Responders and Kirk Yarina of Mercy EMS.

Lasanen, who along with Carter went up to the fifth floor of Heritage Manor to rescue residents during the August 2012 fire, was recognized as office of the year.

“It’s a great honor to be nominated for it, and it’s an especially great honor to win it,” he said.