Rockhounds, Renaissance fans pack weekend events

MARQUETTE – The city of Ishpeming played host to a pair of major annual events last weekend.

The Ishpeming Renaissance Festival and Art Faire, held Saturday in Lake Bancroft, drew thousands, according to Virginia Tippett, chair of the festival’s organization committee.

“We had record crowds. We figure over 2,000 people,” she said.

She said the festival is a one-day event aimed at educating people and introducing them to Renaissance era customs. This year’s event included dozens of food vendors, as well as artisans, musicians and combat demonstrations.

The popularity of the event, Tippett said, is growing.

“We already have people signed up for next year.”

The renaissance festival is held annually on the first Saturday in August, in conjunction with the Ishpeming Gem and Mineral Show, which is held at the nearby Ishpeming Elks Club.

Celebrating its 60th year as an organization, the Ishpeming Rock and Mineral Club hosted this year’s show and the turnout was even better than usual, according to organizers.

Club Vice President Ernest Johnson said the show was packed, adding that people were lining up to get in when the doors officially opened at 9:30 a.m. There were still crowds on hand when the show wrapped up at 4:30 p.m., according to Johnson, who said this year’s event was the club’s 38th.

“We were packed from the time we started to the time we quit,” he said.

The biggest draw for the more than 1,500 spectators, he said, are the minerals.

“I think the biggest thing is the minerals themselves, not only locally, but from all over the world.”

It’s amazing, Johnson said, to see someone “take what you think is just a plain rock and turn it into something that is very, very beautiful.”

Johnson said the show had 21 vendors from Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Kentucky.

“It seems to be growing,” he said. “We have the (visitors) that have been coming for years, but we have a new group that we see coming.”

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.