ROGERS CITY - Prepping for the largest Nautical City Festival to date is in its final stages as the celebration kicks off today.
In order to celebrate the centennial of operations at Calcite Quarry, festival planners have pulled out the stops, Dennis Downie, festival committee chairman, said.
"We've spread our wings and gone outside the box quite a bit here," he said. "It should be a fun time for everyone, it should be great. All we need is good weather."
Running through Sunday, a large number and variety of events are happening in Rogers City. From arts and crafts activities to pet shows, from shipwreck tours to car shows, from card tournaments to a polka mass, there's a little bit of everything going on in this Northeast Michigan community.
This year, the crowning event will be an air show, Downie said. Team RV, a group of professional stunt pilots, will rehearse Friday for their performances on Saturday and Sunday. The crew will be signing autographs in the big tent after both daytime shows, and displaying their aircraft Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Presque Isle County Airport.
Joining Team RV pilots for their static display Saturday will be an organization honoring a group of African American World War II fighter pilots, Downie said. Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., will be there with the famous red-tailed planes, along with other aircraft. They're arriving Friday planning a few flights for Saturday, and will offer rides.
What: Nautical City Festival
When: Today through Sunday
Where: Rogers City
One of the original Tuskegee airmen is planning to come from his home downstate to talk to the public before at least one of three free showings of the movie "Red Tails," Downie said. It'll be shown at Rogers City Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and 1 and 7 p.m. on Saturday at Rogers City Theatre, and the plan is for the veteran to talk about his experiences with the group of legendary fighter pilots.
The main goal of this year's Nautical Fest, aside from celebrating Rogers City in a fun way, is to mark a century's operations at Calcite Quarry, currently owned by Carmeuse Lime & Stone, Downie said.
"It's kind of a way to say, 'Thank you for your 100 years of support to the community,'" he said. "We wanted to recognize their efforts."
Aside from driving the city's economy by providing jobs, Carmeuse also has provided considerable financial support to various community projects and events, Downie said.
Several events center on the quarry and its operations over the past century, Downie said. Among them are a slide show being shown Thursday, and an exhibit at the Presque Isle County Historical Museum's annex today through Saturday.
Others give festival-goers a chance to get close to the current plant and its equipment, Downie said. The public can see the massive machinery used to transport the raw material at the plant's main gates, at the end of Calcite Road.
"They're going to have their dump trucks, their payloaders and other large equipment" and allow people to sit on them, he said.
Tickets for bus tours through the plant Friday and Saturday are selling fast, Downie said. The cost is $5, and they can be purchased at the county museum's gift shop or by calling 734-4121.
In Lake Huron, Lady Michigan and crew will be giving shipwreck tours Friday through Sunday after making a trip to Rogers City Thursday, Downie said.
Another noteworthy event will be Sunday's grand parade, Downie said.
"The parade is going to be really something," he said. "(Team RV) is going to do a 'Missing Man' formation over the parade route."
Leading the parade will be John "Scissors" Szczerowski and Roger Stricker, the oldest living employees of Bradley Transportation Co. and Calcite, respectively, Downie said. They'll serve as co-grand marshal.
Along with the aerial fanfare and Calcite-related activities, there are the traditional events: the spitzer and euchre tournaments, horseshoes, dances and food, Downie said. Another card game, Texas Hold-em, will be played under the big tent tonight from 6-7 p.m., with spitzer and euchre tournament players taking their tricks on Saturday.
The idea is to have something for everyone, so most of Wednesday's events are made for kids or teenagers, Downie said. At 6 p.m., the Kiddie Parade will run from Westminster Church on Third Street to the Lakeside Park Band Shell. Immediately following the parade at its ending location is the Picnic at the Park. Teens can dance at the big tent from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Many more kid-friendly events are lined up for the festival, including amusement rides beginning Wednesday.
This is only a sampling of the events, with a full list available at many Rogers City businesses and the Rogers City Area Chamber of Commerce, 292 S. Bradley Highway. The festival website also has a full schedule, at www.nauticalfestival.org.
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.