Bridgefest FEAST brings a number of events

HOUGHTON – There will be no shortage of events for people to enjoy during the Bridgefest FEAST, coming Thursday through Saturday.

Friday night, Bridgfest FEAST food starts getting served up at the Ray Kestner Waterfront Park at 5 p.m., continuing until 10 p.m. It has the same closing time Saturday, but opens at noon. This year’s menu includes selections from the Library Restaurant and Brew Pub, Michigan Technological University Dining Services, Fitzgerald’s, Habaneros, and the traditional Seafood Fest selection from the Houghton Rotary Club.

The Bridgefest parade will run from downtown Hancock to Dee Stadium in Houghton starting 7 p.m. Friday. So far, there are 20 entrants in the parade. Rotary volunteers will serve as spotters for the parade to keep it moving smoothly.

Interested organizations should go to bridgefestfun.com to register, or go to the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce office in Houghton.

Music will be provided by a number of bands throughout the weekend; Rotary member Dallas Bond will be coordinating. Jazz guitarists Steve Jones and Bob Hiltunen will play at the Thursday night gala and several more times throughout the weekend: Hiltunen with Uncle Pete’s BBQ Blues Band and The Outlaws, and both with Garden City Hot Club.

“They’re two of the remarkable talents in the State of Michigan,” said Bridgefest FEAST chair Bill Musselman.

Recess Bullies will be Friday night’s first band, playing from 7 to 9 p.m.

Marty’s Goldenaires and Blue Notes marching bands, both of which will perform in the Bridgefest parade, will get a police escort down to the park, where they will perform around 9 p.m.

“They’ve always been a major draw,” Musselman said.

The rock band The Outlaws will close things out from 10 to midnight.

Saturday’s lineup includes Garden City Hot Club from noon to 1:30 p.m., Acoustically Challenged from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Peter Lorre Band from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Stereo Tigers from 4:30 to 6 p.m., Uncle Pete’s BBQ Blues Band from 6 to 8 p.m., Mid Nite Storm from 8 to 10 p.m., and Marshall Law finishing the night with a 10 p.m.-to-midnight set.

Musselman said it’s an incredible music lineup, especially the Friday and Saturday night closers.

“They are incredible party bands,” Musselman said. “They put out an enormous amount of positive energy. If people like to dance and boogie, they should be down there at 10 o’clock on both Friday and Saturday.”

Both nights, Houghton will run a free shuttle bus service to the Bridgefest FEAST site.

During Marshall Law’s performance will be the much anticipated fireworks, which should start going off around 10:30 p.m.

“It’ll be the biggest fireworks display that’s ever been done during the Father’s Day weekend,” Musselman said. “Families usually bring their kids down to the Ray Kestner Park, and we recommend that they get down there as early as possible, and take advantage of the shuttle buses – flag down a bus, and get on it.”

For those listening from their cars, WOLV-FM will also play music to coincide with the fireworks.

Starting at 6 p.m., Friday, there will be a selection of vendors and kids activities. Saturday, vendors and kids activities begin at 10 a.m and continue until 10 p.m.

Kids will have ping-pong throws to win a goldfish. Crafters include handmade jewelry, hair accessories, a makeup booth. For food, there will be shaved ice vendor, cotton candy and snow cones – “kid-friendly, dessert-type stuff,” said Rotary member and organizer Ellie Freeman.

“Historically, it’s basically been food, and music, and beer, that has effectively been Seafood Fest,” Musselman said. “This year, we really wanted to expand it to provide stuff for the entire family to get involved in. That’s why we’re catering to the kids like we never have before. And we want to see that continue in subsequent years, and grow.”

Car lovers will want to check out the annual Classic Car Show at the Medical Arts building. Registration starts at 11 a.m., with the show running from noon to 4 p.m, when the best in show prize will be awarded. In all, 30 trophies will be given out in nine categories.

For those who have pre-bought tickets, the weekend kicks off with Rotary Gala ’14 on Thursday night. The annual gala began with Rotary Club members selling individual seats. Three years ago, they introduced the idea of selling tables to companies. They’ve been selling out ever since. As of Friday, one table was left, Musselman said.

“It’s an absolutely wonderful evening,” Musselman said.

Key to the experience is chef Eric Karvonen, who spends the whole year planning out the menu. Based on encounters with South American chefs at a cooking conference, Karvonen built a menu for this year’s gala around South American cuisine. Dishes include citrus-marinated cebiches, tamales, empanadas, soups, salads and desserts such as mango mousse.

A cash bar opens at 6 p.m.; food starts rolling out shortly after. The event continues until around 10 p.m.

“The patrons can literally eat as much as they possibly can of this amazing food,” Musselman said. “It’s a great menu.”

Michigan Tech Dining Services spends days preparing the food, while Superior Equipment & Events kick in donated items such as decorations. and Peterlin Distributing donates a sparkling wine to open the event.

“It seems like this event, the gala, and Bridgefest FEAST, is just an amazing effort by the entire community, as far as the corporate community is concerned,” he said. “They realize what Rotary’s trying to do, raise as much money during their one and only fundraising event throughout the year, and people step up.”

Within the event is a wine auction, which raises money for the Rotary Club’s scholarship fund, administered by the Keweenaw Community Foundation. The fund has given out 44 scholarships in the past 22 years, totaling $88,000.

New this year, for a minimum of $150, people can get an engraved paver for the project to install a new brick walkway at the Ray Kestner Waterfront Park.

To purchase one of the remaining tickets to the Thursday night gala, contact Musselman at 523-5014. The remaining table is available for $600, or individually as eight seats for $75 each.

People who wish to prepurchase food and beverage tickets for Friday and Saturday can go to bridgefestfeast.com.