by Richard Lamb–Advance Editor
Perfect weather, great bands and happy crowds at the big tent all made for a memorable Nautical City Festival (NCF). Crowds filled the tent for music from DJ Tim on Thursday, Jedi Mind Trip on Friday, The Rock Show Band on Saturday and “Pan” Franek, Zosia and the Polka Towners for Sunday’s finale to the festival. A fireworks show Sunday evening put a ribbon on a successful weekend that saw many activities aimed at all ages that brought people together to celebrate a good time.
“Friday and Saturday night were huge in the tent. The live Saturday night band made everyone feel good. People were talking about how much fun they had and how good it felt in here,” said NCF chairwoman Kim Margherio. “The bands were terrific.”
“The parade was really nice and I was busy all weekend,” said parade grand marshal Kevin Wickersham. “A lot of friends and family recognized me and were shouting and waving.”
Wickersham helped line up floats at the parade site and could be seen working in the tent each day of the festival. Monday found him helping clean up the big tent, taking down the sides and moving picnic tables along with some festival committee members and volunteers.
Many things went right about the 2023 festival. There were no security issues, even with the large number of people in the big tent. Tuesday’s poker tournament drew 95 participants and Margherio said the crowd for trivia doubled from last year. Sunday’s cornhole tournament drew an enthusiastic crowd who stayed to the end of play.
“I thought the fireworks were wonderful. It was a different finale but is was awesome,” Margherio. The festival added money that added time to the fireworks display.
Some concerns were raised when the amusement company set to be a part of the Montmorency County Fair, did not show up to its event. Family Fun Tyme Amusements did however make it to the NCF, bringing eight rides or inflatable amusements, five cars with games and one food booth selling traditional carnival fare. Missing were rides more popular with older children and adults.
“The carnival was smaller, but it was still successful. We have to remember they are under a lot of pressure these days, especially in finding workers. Everybody has to be more understanding and more kind,” Margherio said. “We got something, which is better than nothing. Financially (the amusement rides) were way down, but they were still here. It was a very nice group of people and very nice to work with them.”
The committee chose to not put down the wooden dance floor, as it has shown its age over past events. Some thought might be given to providing a better surface for dancing other than the asphalt.
Overall, the festival met its goals for this year. Mayor Scott McLennan had praise for the festival, calling it more well-attended than in past years.
“I think the thing that impressed me most is the cooperative nature of all the volunteers who are working to make this happen. It is so extremely important that people understand that the only way these festivals are going to happen is if people step forward and help,” McLennan said.
Even those who only volunteer for two hours make a difference, he said.
“By the time the festival is over the primary volunteers who are here all the time are exhausted. So, having people who say they can help for a couple of hours is critical.”
Financially, Margherio estimated the festival was able to cover its costs and put some money ahead for next year, although the final numbers have not been tabulated. There is a $7,500 deposit due early next year, representing half of the cost of the big tent, and another sizable deposit due on next year’s fireworks.
Margherioand McLennan acknowledged the contributions of the city department of public works. The city is a huge reason why the festival is a success, Margherio said and are always willing to help out in many ways.
“I don’t think the community understands exactly how much work and how many hours we put in, unless you have been involved with it,” Margherio said.
“It is just so exceptionally wrong for people to criticize a group of volunteers who are trying to bring happiness to the town,” McLennan said.
This year’s NCF committee members included Margherio and Jean Garratt, from the Kiwanis Club; KC Roth and Timeen Adair from the Rogers City Servicemen’s Club; Karen Bailey and David Regelbrugge from the Rogers City Area Chamber of Commerce; Paul Bennett and Terry Tosch from the Knights of Columbus; Jan Pankner and Karen Spens from the Rogers City Zonta Club; and Tricia Taratuta and Missy Bannon from the Rogers City Optimist Club.