Logging festival reviewed
Organizers aren't deterred by criticism
Friday, July 19, 2013 7:00 PM
MARINETTE - The sawdust has settled and organizers have had a chance to sit back and evaluate the third Marinette Logging and Heritage Festival, which took place last weekend on Stephenson Island.
"It was very well-attended," said Mayor Denise Ruleau. "The fireworks were just awesome. I've heard lots of great comments. Judy (Alwin) and her committee did a great job of lining up entertainment."
Alwin heads the festival committee, which includes a nucleus of 26 members.
"I was very happy with the festival," she said. "I was very pleased with the crowds. Saturday, the island was jam-packed all-day long. For the fireworks show, you had a hard time finding a place to sit. It was very well-attended - above my expectations for Saturday."
Like Ruleau, Alwin said she's heard many compliments about the fireworks.
"I've heard from people who have been to Disney (World) and they said, for a small town, this equals what Disney produces every single night," she said, adding that the ground and water displays helped to make the show spectacular.
Alwin said the fireworks display has improved each year as more money has been available. This year's show cost about $25,000.
The All-American Lumberjack Show, out of Stillwater, Minn., also was well-received, according to Alwin. She added that the bands (including three that donated their time), food vendors, kids' games, the antique car show and the parade also sparked positive comments.
The festival has received some criticism since it was moved from the Fourth of July the past two years. Alwin and Ruleau both stated the key reasons for not having a festival on a holiday is that fireworks, bands and vendors cost more on a holiday and it's difficult to get volunteers to work on a holiday. Also, city workers earn more when they work a holiday.
In addition, Alwin plans to apply for a Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) Grant that could provide the festival with an enormous financial boost. She said one of the stipulations for receiving the grant, is the money cannot be used in connection with a holiday celebration.
Alwin said she believes most people enjoy this festival, which celebrates the city's rich heritage.
"I think the criticism is the minority," she said. "Those are the people who don't want to jump on board to help. They don't want to do it, but they want us to do it for them."
Alwin, who also oversees the Marinette Welcome Center, said people are wrong when they say the Logging and Heritage Festival is replacing the Fourth of July.
"This is not a substitution for the Fourth of July," she said. "It's a festival to celebrate Marinette. We all love the Fourth of July."
She also made it clear that there's plenty of room for various festivals in this area.
"We don't want to cut into or compete with Waterfront," Alwin said, "because we really feel the community can use our two, plus Peshtigo's (Historical Day). People need something to do in the summertime. People love festivals."
So do sponsors. This year about 30 sponsors donated $20,240 for the event. They came in the form of small businesses to large industries, and churches to civic organizations. Sponsor donations ranged from $30 to $1,000.
Alwin said she already has been contacted by a large corporation that wants to be a sponsor next year. Planning for the 2014 event will begin next month, but first the Civic Affairs Committee and the City Council must give approval on the date.
Parade winners: Musical presentation, Marinette High School Marching Band; Original and creative design, Pioneer Presbyterian Church; Unique slogan or verbiage, Farmers & Merchants Bank; Heritage, other than logging, Stephenson National Bank; Logging heritage, All-American Lumberjacks.