With Plenty of Places to Go…
It was nine years ago when Upfront & Company closed, and suddenly, one of our more popular event venues was no more. And for a few years, it seemed that finding that perfect spot for your event required extended lead-time and more than a little luck. Weddings and formals in particular were scrambling to find the right site… available when they needed it.
And then the pandemic threw a wrench into everybody’s plans, closing venues and shutting down events. But now, as venues have opened, and reopened, events have returned as well, like many we’ve written about here.
It’s not just new buildings that represent the growth of the event center lineup, but rather many of our new spots are the result of some creative repurposing. It seems that two years of slowdown gave building and business owners some time, and impetus, to find new ways to use their space.
Sure… you could always call just about anywhere and say, Hey… we’re coming in with a dozen people, could you put some tables together? But now, any business with a room that can offer a little privacy, and space for a respectable gathering, can, and probably has, become a credible venue option.
Weddings in barns? Been there. Reunions in bars? Done that. Your annual meeting at a funeral home? It’s happening. No kitchen? No problem. Just bring in a couple of food trucks. And with the big tent revival, bad weather for outdoor events is no longer a deal breaker.
With plenty of options, choosing the venue that best complements your event, from all the available options, is now the new challenge.
New to the Scene…
You’ve likely noticed the interesting home set back in the trees off 41 down by the Birchmont Motel. It was built in 1994 to serve as the motel owner’s summer home. But with some of that “creative repurposing,” local wedding planner Nicole Lasich has turned the place into an upscale event setting. It’s called Park Place, paying homage to that high-rent landing spot in the game of Monopoly, and with a nod to owner Derek Parker.
This new Park Place offers an indoor facility for intimate gatherings, and a tent out back for bigger ceremonies and celebrations. Tucked back in the trees, overlooking Marquette Bay, wedding parties find a lot to like here.
Nagelkirk Gardens has recently gone through a considerable renovation, adding an event site to their established nursery. As you might expect from the veteran landscapers, their garden setting dresses up any event.
According to owner Elizabeth “Sam” Nagelkirk, the range of events is up to the imagination. “We’ve hosted yoga in the garden, a funeral, a concert; and we have a Christmas party coming up in December.”
Though big indoor happenings still need to look to the familiar larger venues like the big hotels, the Masonic Center, and NMU… more modest gatherings are welcome at a surprising number of traditional, and non-traditional, venues. Maybe when we thought we lacked appropriate sites, we just didn’t look hard enough.
Long-timers can tell you that the Northwoods was THE destination back in the day, but after being closed for a number of years it’s been revived as Barrel+ Beam, which, along with many of our restaurants and pubs, also hosts local functions.
The list of options is actually quite long. Think of all the events you’ve been to over the years and you’ve probably been to most of these places once or twice, places like… The History Center, the Peter White Public Library, the Marquette Golf Club, the Masonic Center, the Women’s Federated Clubhouse, and Marquette Mountain, to name a few. And there are the popular outdoor settings like Carp River Gardens, Belsolda Farm, and the courtyard at the Holiday Inn, seen at the top of the page.
Funeral homes are getting in on the action, too. According to Mark Canale of the Canale Tonella Funeral Homes, “Funeral homes all across the country are now creating spaces for celebrating all of life’s events, including weddings.” And why not? The old rules no longer apply.
And of course, the city of Marquette has a surprising number of sites, both in, and out of doors, available for events of all sizes.
Up North Lodge is taking advantage of some recent praise for being one of Michigan’s best outdoor dining destinations, and they’re taking it up a notch. A whole new building is going up, just off their busy backyard, that’s going to serve as an event center to augment their already celebrated restaurant.
According to manager Jesie Melchiori, the new facility will be a full-service, stand-alone building, from kitchen to bar to bride’s room. “The potential for us to host any type event is endless and we cannot wait!” She says they hope to be open for New Year’s Eve.
Up the road, we find the new Upper Peninsula Brewing Company in downtown Negaunee, which, when open, should be able to replicate what the Ore Dock has done in Marquette. With two floors and plenty of space indoors and out, they’ll be able to handle all sorts of events, big and small.
And talk about thinking outside the box… the proposed partnership of the Cognition Brewing Company with Ishpeming’s Grace Episcopal Church illustrates how open-minded collaboration can help two operations keep the wheels turning, while bringing new life to under-utilized space.
Last week in this space, we wrote about the comeback of many of our favorite events. And now we realize…when paired with the right event, the venue itself can be half the fun. See you there.
Speaking of events and venues, don’t forget about Brits and Brews, this weekend at the Ore Dock… a musical fundraiser benefitting Music for All Kids tonight, and JJ Packs tomorrow night.
Featured wedding photo credit: By Kimgirl — www.bykimgirl.com/weddings