by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
It was a festival that brought a lot of people into town. More than last year’s Nautical Festival air show? Perhaps.
While actual numbers are rarely available in the days following the six-day event, it appears attendance was up.
“There was just more people,” said Nautical Festival Committee chairman Paul Dubbs.
The festival committee conducted a wrap-up meeting Tuesday night (past press time) and more information should be available at a later date.
Lighthouse Restaurant owner Brian Bannasch said “There were a lot of crowds every day, all day. There were more people in town than I have seen in a number of years. The festival committee followed up the air show with some new activities and it keeps it fresh.”
Kathy Romel of Rygwelski’s IGA reported lots of traffic in her store.
“We had a fantastic week,” said Scott Schroeder of Scill’s Grill. “We saw a lot of new faces. I am very happy with it.”
Jackie Viegelahn of Jean’s Gifts also reported seeing a lot of new faces in her store, along with some locals. “There were a lot of people from out of state too,” said Viegelahn.
Dubbs was pleasantly surprised about Sunday’s attendance at the tent, which was full of folks being entertained by the Sault Ste. Marie Pipe and Drum Band, polka band Frank Watkowski and family, and Rosco the Clown.
What was missing Sunday at the tent was the Budweiser Clydesdales, who were supposed to continue from the end of the parade route to the tent and be available for photos. Plus, samples were to be given out.
Dubbs said the allotted time of two hours was used up – most of it during the hour and 40 minute parade. Dubbs said he was “disappointed” that the horses could not stay longer.
Huron Distributors of Alpena made it possible, and festival committee meeting members were still pleased to have them as the highlight of the parade.
Dubbs believes the horses were a huge draw. The parade also had an increase in entries, many of them coming in at the last minute.
A new attraction this year was the Great Lakes Timber Show at Lakeside Park.
“They had just finished up some shows in Alpena and they said, ‘your shows were much better attended,’ ” said committee secretary Mike Myers, who helped bring them in. “They were really happy.” Dubbs said it seemed as if seniors attended the early shows and kids came out in nice numbers for the later shows.
Weather did not cooperate for Mackinaw City Parasailing. The windy conditions made for poor conditions, and when no reservations were made on Saturday, they shut down and pulled out.
There were a few that ranted and raved about the experience on Friday, though.
The two vendors, Nowicki’s and the Kiwanis Fish Shack, did well.
“We were so busy we could not see straight,” said Myers of the fish shack.
Both vendors served customers inside the tent and outside. “My perception is that we did as well as we did last year.”
With the threat of rain during the kiddie parade, a contingency plan was developed where it would have been moved to the tent. Dubbs said it would probably be a permanent plan for future years. The rain held up for a few more hours and the parade went on without a hitch.
The fireworks show concluded the successful weekend of activites.
Just like in 2012, the 2013 festival will be a tough act to follow. And that is a nice problem to have moving forward.