• First, news about snow… or lack thereof. It was definitely a bummer to see the U.P. 200 cancelled, but the resourceful folks responsible for our Sled Dog Friday night fun really came through.
NMU, the new sponsor of the event, stepped up, and along with the other organizers created the Festival of the Sled Dog. Northern marketing guy Derek Hall explains. “Board members, sponsors, vendors and volunteers all came together quickly to create new events in Marquette and Grand Marais. It was a great demonstration of communities supporting this amazing cultural event.”
Did we miss the traditional start of the race? Absolutely. But those who ventured downtown on that cold February night were likely not disappointed. NMU, Downtown Marquette, Double Trouble Entertainment, and the dedicated volunteers all pulled together and rescued a big part of one of our premier events. Nice work!
• Did you see that the Drifa Brewing Company is for sale? That’s the cute little brew pub down on South Lake Street, across from the site of the former Shiras Power Plant. This unique cooperative brewery, owned by its more than 650 members, opened just five months before Covid hit, and like most other businesses, struggled to keep the place afloat while dealing with all the pandemic restrictions.
In response to the limitations of indoor service, and as a complement to their tempting tap room, they added an inviting outdoor beer garden which now allows thirsty patrons to enjoy the view of Marquette Bay, in spite of the overgrown erector set across the street.
The popularity of Drifa (pronounced Dreefa) has never waned, thanks in part to the co-op dynamic. Members, each with a financial stake in the operation, along with our large contingent of craft beer lovers, have stepped up to the tap and continued to keep the head brewer busy, often selling out the suds brewed for that day.
Yes, it’s for sale, but according to Mindey Talus, board secretary and one of the founding members, it will be business as usual until a new owner is identified. “The board is determined to represent its members in the best way possible by having our magnificent brewer pump out his tasty brews. We have events planned for every week and music scheduled all the way through the summer.”
As south Marquette continues to add homes and hotels, and South Beach becomes an even busier summer destination, Drifa will surely remain a popular place to gather.
By the way, Drifa is an old Norse word meaning snow drift. So, technically, this information fits today’s informal Word on the Street “snow” theme. Yeah.
• Speaking of snow… I know they’re trying to keep us safe, but that annoying and typically untimely full-screen Emergency Alert System announcement that invariably interrupts my viewing of The Masked Singer to tell me there’s winter weather on the way is, and I think I already said this… annoying and untimely.
Can I survive an interruption to The Masked Singer? Probably. But if that announcement ever takes over my TV right when a game-winning shot is in the air, I’ll be apoplectic. (I came up with a fancy word because I didn’t know where else to go with this.) Besides, do we really need a warning of the possibility of “winter weather.”
Anyway, there are probably less-intrusive ways to alert the television viewing audience of impending doom, like a simple crawl along the bottom of the screen. There. Problem solved.
And, by the way, just so you don’t lose any respect you might have for me, I don’t watch The Masked Singer. It may not be the worst show on television, but it’s in the conversation.
• As long as we’re on the subject of the now appropriately nicknamed boob tube, have you seen the new show called MILF Manor? Me neither. Even though I’m familiar with that unfortunate acronym, I was briefly fooled regarding the show’s subject matter when I saw it was airing on TLC. That’s the network that used to be known as The Learning Channel, but apparently sex sells more than smarts. MILF Manor? No thanks. Our society only gets dumbed-down when we let it.
• Have you been wondering when Jimmy John’s is going to open on North Third Street? Me too, but every time I inquire I get no definitive answer, and frankly, I’ve gotten tired of asking. It’d be a shame to miss another summer, but businesses are still struggling with staffing issues and other post-pandemic adjustments. So, the last word here is, they’ll be open when they’re open.
Further up North Third we’re still keeping our eye on the Third Street Marketplace. Fish Express, formerly one of the city’s more popular food trucks, is now open inside the building with an actual sit-down or take-out restaurant. Jay Clancey’s Kognisjon Bryggeri, a sister operation to Ishpeming’s Cognition Brewing Company, should be opening soon. And word is there’s a pizza type joint planning on joining those two businesses, meaning the marketplace, after a couple years in development, is finally taking shape.
• Tired of hearing the complaints about the hazardous conditions on M-553 out by Rippling River and Marquette Mountain? Well, buckle your seat belt ‘cuz I’m not done driving this issue. It came up again at this week’s Traffic & Parking Committee meeting with the same result… frustration among citizens and city staff with the Michigan Department of Transportation’s rigid stance on state highway speed limits.
I understand the methodology they use to set speed limits, but in this case, the raw numbers used in their formula fail to take into consideration the salient factors that make a 55 mph speed limit unreasonable, and downright dangerous, for that stretch of highway. Multiple crossing areas for skiers, bikers, hikers, runners, and snowmobilers combine to make the area the proverbial “accident waiting to happen.”
It looks like we’ll have to work through our elected representatives to affect any kind of change. If you’re as concerned as I am, you can reach out to State Representative Jenn Hill or State Senator Ed McBroom and let them know how you feel.