MARQUETTE – The 55th annual Art on the Rocks opened Saturday in Mattson Lower Harbor Park in downtown Marquette, offering patrons of the show a chance to once again celebrate fine art in the outdoors.

The event’s organizers were hoping Friday’s record-setting rainfall wouldn’t continue into Saturday, and though cooler temperatures and a cloudy sky kept the crowd a little smaller than usual, opening day went well.

“It turned out to be a good day,” said Mary VanLandschoot, chair of Art on the Rocks. “No rain.”

Many of the exhibitors in the juried show felt the same and were happy the rain had stayed away.

“Today has been better than I thought it would be from the forecast,” said retired Northern Michigan University art professor Wayne Francis, who now spends his time split between Marquette and Florida, creating contemporary wall sculptures. “Weather doesn’t really bother Yoopers. They come out.”

Leif Sporck of Suttons Bay, owner of Sporck Tileart, said the crowd gathered in the park was making it “worth it” to make the drive up to the Upper Peninsula, which he’s been doing almost every year since 2005.

Lainey Stevens of Marquette said Sporck’s tile art – in which he carves wildlife and other things from the natural world onto clay before firing and glazing it – is what keeps her coming back to Art on the Rocks year after year.

“The quality is exceptional, in terms of his glazes,” Stevens said, pointing out a snowflake tile she liked.

With the shimmering waters of Lake Superior setting a serene backdrop – as well as the various musical artists performing throughout the day – patrons of the show had the chance to peruse more than 120 different vendors. Everything from wood and metal working to photography and painting to hand-woven baskets and hand-made clothing was available to the thousands of art fans who walked through the park Saturday.

Thousands more are expected to attend today. VanLandschoot said typically 15,000 people walk through Mattson Lower Harbor Park to view Art on the Rocks.

This year, the show also added three new food vendors – Sweet Basil, Vollwerth’s and Rollin’ Smoke Barbecue, to offer those people something to snack on as they visited each booth.

The show, sponsored by the Lake Superior Art Association, continues today, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It’s a great way to spend the weekend,” VanLandschoot said.

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