MARQUETTE, Mich. (WZMQ)- Today in Marquette, it’s the 24th blueberry fest. Set up on Washington and Front Street started at 8 o’clock in the morning. Vendors and local business set up to sell jewelry, crafts, drinks, and food. But, of course, what would blueberry fest be, without the blueberries.
Every year at blueberry fest, there’s no shortage of specialty blueberry foods, whether it’s blueberry pizza from Third Coast Pizzaria, or blueberry bread pudding from Lagniappe. This year, there we’re two vendors who brought the wild blueberries to blueberry fest.
The Zelenka family runs Berry UP Blueberries in Grand Haven Michigan. Megan Zelenka said that this year they brought 600 boxes that were 5 pounds each totaling to 3 thousand pounds of blueberries.
“We get everything picked and packed and it’s a whole week process to get everything ready to come up here.” Zelenka said. “We’ve got a big trailer that’s refrigerated to bring all the blueberries up here.”
On the other side of the festival, the Spiessel family has been bringing their berries for all 22 years of blueberry fest. At Spiessel Produce, the wild blueberries are hand picked in Lake Linden, the rest are sourced from West Olive, Michigan.
Hilija Spiessel says the festival is always a really special time of year where they get to meet so many new people.
“This year in particular seems to be really hitting off on a high note.” Spiessel said. “We’ve been trying to pick all this week to get enough blueberries for the festival, and it’s been a bit tricky with the rain but we managed it.”
Vendors say it takes a lot of work the week before the festival to make sure they have enough blueberries to go around. The shops along the festival streets made plenty of preparations as well.
Mike Carl, the co-owner of Spice Merchants on Washington Street, said they make sure to stock up on all the blueberry specials before the festival. With special blueberry teas and sugars, he said the most popular is actually the balsamic vinegar that many of the vendor like to use in the festival dishes as well.
Carl said the fair always brings extra visitors into the shop to check out the deals, but he said this year it was busier than they’ve ever seen it.
“It’s great to see all of the people coming through, you know, navigating, and shopping. It seems like there’s a lot of people.” Carl said. “I just walked down the street and I would say it’s the most I’ve seen at any time that they’ve had this, we’ve been here for almost 9 years now, so yeah, it’s pretty impressive”
Carl says they like to keep their blueberry specials year round at Spice Merchants, but it’s a nice chance to highlight some of their favorite products.