MARQUETTE – The 28th Annual International Food Fest kicked off with a bang Wednesday at Mattson Lower Harbor Park with sunny skies and plenty of vendors to help appease the appetites of hungry patrons.

“Everyone seems to like the variety that we have,” said Dave Scheinder, a member of the Marquette County Exchange Club, which hosts the event, and co-chairman of the festival.

With 11 vendors, the festival has a wide range of foods, from tacos to Chinese, pizzas to pasties and also has a beer tent offering a number of different beverages, including Bell’s popular Oberon.

Danny Richards, manager at Stucko’s Pub and Grill, was busy cooking with his team inside Stucko’s food truck Wednesday, which will be parked at the park for the duration of the festival.

“We’ve been steady all day,” Richards said Wednesday. “Tomorrow’s going to be a lot busier once everybody gets out of work and gets down here.”

Richards said the festival helps his business out the rest of the year as well.

“Last year, after Food Fest, our food business went up and it’s held, it’s stayed, which is great,” he said.

With the forecast looking good for the rest of the week, Schneider said he’s hoping for another successful year.

“The weather looks really nice, which makes a big difference in the festival,” Schenider said. “You never want it too hot or rainy.”

Along with the beautiful weather comes another boon for the festival – the Marquette Area Fourth of July Committee will have its fireworks display tonight, shooting off the dazzling spectacle from the ore dock in the Lower Harbor.

“It’s a good time of the year over the (July 4) holiday,” Schneider said. “A lot of people come back, visit family.”

To keep the place family-friendly, the festival is also playing host to a number of fun children’s activities, including jump houses and other inflatable areas provided by Abracadabra and face painting offered by the St. Peter’s Cathedral.

Musical acts have also been lined up throughout the festival, with the Flatbroke Blues Band headlining tonight, beginning at 7:30 p.m. and Say What? performing Friday evening, beginning at 8 p.m. A wide variety of musical artists will play throughout both days as well, with music beginning at noon today and at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

The festival runs today and Friday from noon to 10:30 p.m.

All proceeds collected from the annual festival are donated by the Marquette County Exchange to area nonprofit organizations. The club has donated in excess of $750,000 to local non-profits using proceeds from the festival.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is