MARQUETTE – As the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival wrapped up its 35th year Sunday, two families reminisced about the years past that they spent at the festival.

Erin Donovan and Michael Reed have been going to Hiawatha since 1995, the year they moved to Marquette. They started bringing their daughter and then their granddaughter. Going to Hiawatha Music Festival has become a family tradition, Donovan said.

“The music is always great,” she said. “We always volunteer and we always camp out.”

Donovan said her favorite part of the festival is the sense of community and that it’s so family oriented and she thinks that it’s helped her granddaughter Trinity Burdick, 9, along the way.

“We call Trinity our Hiawatha baby because she was born on Hiawatha weekend,” Donovan said. “So she’s been coming to the festival her whole life.”

If Burdick is asked what her favorite part of the year is her response will always be Hiawatha Music Festival. She agreed with her grandmother on what her favorite part of the weekend is.

“My favorite part is just getting together with everyone and sitting around the campfire,” Burdick said. “I also like the scary stories told around the campfire.”

Sue and Doug Wolfe have been camping next to Donovan and Reed for many years and they’ve been going to Hiawatha since 1987. When asked how Hiawatha has changed over the years, they both said it really hasn’t.

“Even the essence of the festival is the same,” Doug Wolfe said. “The only thing that’s changed is the faces because we have the little ones now.”

Reed said one thing he’s seen change is the teen scene at the festival.

“They’ve always had the children’s stuff and the stuff for adults,” Reed said. “But now they have music for the teens and programs.”

Even with the little changes here and there, both families agreed that the music doesn’t change and how much fun they have each year doesn’t either.

“It stays the same every year and it’s something that I can look forward to,” Burdick said.

Donovan said it warms her heart to see so many generations enjoying the festival. With so many generations of both families attending the festival for so many years, there are a lot of stories that have come from it, Doug Wolfe said.

“One year our daughter and five of her friends were all in (a pop up camper) together,” Sue Wolfe said. “They were playing around and all of them moved to one side and tipped it right over. That was a sight to see.”

Sue Wolfe reminisced about the time her daughter had her violin at the festival and went up to one of the musicians and that musician sat down and played with her.

“He saw that she needed new strings, so he took her violin back to his trailer and gave her new ones and restrung it for her,” Doug Wolfe said. “Where else are you going to see a musician like that do that for a child?”

Doug Wolfe said he thinks it would be pretty cool if Burdick’s generation comes year after year to the festival even after his generation is gone. Donovan said she hopes for the same thing.

“I just hope it continues year after year and that generation after generation continues to build new memories here,” she said.

Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243.