Singing the praises of the pasty

CALUMET – Dale Ninko had a couple fairly simple reasons why he’s attended all 10 PastyFests.

“For the pasties,” he said. “The kids like it.”

Ninko, who is from Laurium, said he’s been bringing his 9- and 10-year-old daughters to PastyFest and they enjoy coming back.

That kind of loyalty and interest in returning to the PastyFest is just what members of Main Street Calumet, organizers of the event, have been working to create, and Tom Tikkanen, MSC executive director, said it looks like its working.

Tikkanen said attendance seems to be growing with each PastyFest.

“There’s a bigger crowd every year,” he said.

People from out of town are plaJning their Fourth of July travel to include attending PastyFest, Tikkanen said.

The location of the event has moved to another part of Agassiz Park to accommodate larger crowds, Tikkanen said.

“It covers a bigger area,” he said.

There is a better sound system for the live music, also, Tikkanen said.

There were 13 contestants for the pasty bake off pre-registered, and Tikkanen said that was a good start, but having more pre-register would be preferred.

“We do love it when people pre-register,” he said.

Tikkanen said there were 20 judges for the bake off this year, and some of them came from as far away as Elkhorn, Wis., and he was glad to have them.

“We’re very accommodating in that regard,” he said.

The number of vendors for the event averages in the 30s, but Tikkanen said this year there were more than 40 vendors, which was a good sign.

“That’s a good number for an event our size,” he said.

Two of those vendors were Valerie and Nate Shuttleworth, who will be opening their coffee-roasting company, Keweenaw Coffee Works on Fifth Street, in about two weeks.

Valerie Shuttleworth said this was the couple’s first time at PastyFest.

“We wanted to get to know everybody since we’re new in town,” she said.

Valerie Shuttleworth said although it was early in the day, there seemed to be an interest from those attending the event in their several varieties of coffee.

“We’re really excited to be here,” she said.

Tikkanen said the members of MSC involved with social media are expanding their efforts and getting the word out about PastyFest, which may be one reason why attendance is increasing.

People attending PastyFest generally have a good time, and Tikkanen said that’s what the event is for.

“The whole point of PastyFest is to have fun,” he said.