The second annual Marquette County Waterfall Week, set for April 21-27, 2014, is fast approaching. If you know what this means, great! We’ll see you out in the woods, and hopefully at the four participating breweries. If you’re still stuck on the “Waterfall Week” part, that’s okay too. Let’s take a closer look at a week-long event that’s fast becoming a Marquette area tradition.
Marquette County is a rugged place – the drop from the heights of the Huron Mountains to the shore of Lake Superior exceeds 1,000 vertical feet in some areas – so it’s no surprise that it’s home to 77 waterfalls, more than any other county in Michigan. To celebrate the county’s watery beauty, the Marquette CVB launched Waterfall Week in the spring of 2013. Thanks to partnerships with four of the county’s brewpubs, the event has earned a more colloquial name: “Views and Brews.”
The idea behind Views and Brews/Waterfall Week is a simple one: Locals and visitors travel to one of seven area waterfalls, snap a picture to document the achievement, and visit one of four Marquette County breweries/brewpubs to claim a prize. This year, said prize is a souvenir pint glass, courtesy of Traverse City-based Custom Stems, that displays logos from all four breweries and the Marquette CVB. Each participating establishment will have 90 commemorative glasses on hand, so be sure to get yours early in the week! (If you can’t go until the second weekend, though, don’t worry: Anjila Holland, Associate GM at Ore Dock Brewery in Marquette, expects to give away at least 20 more pint glasses after exhausting the 90 special ones. The only catch: You have to buy a beer to get a glass. Fair trade, we’d say.
Four breweries are participating in this year’s Waterfall Week: Blackrocks Brewery, Ore Dock Brewing Company and The Vierling Restaurant/Marquette Harbor Brewery, all of Marquette; and Jasper Ridge Brewing Company, of Ishpeming. The brewmasters – and they really are masters of their craft – at each place have developed special brews to be released at the beginning of Waterfall Week.
Each brew incorporates a popular Marquette County waterfall into its name. Ore Dock has Dead River Drops Saison, for instance, and Blackrocks is going with Yellow Dog Ginger Cream Ale (sorry, kids, but this ginger ale has a bit of a kick). You don’t have to visit each brewery’s chosen waterfall to sample these beers: A picture from any of the seven waterfalls is good enough to earn you a complimentary pint glass and a delicious, specially brewed liquid treat.
The second annual Waterfall Week isn’t solely about selfies, rushing water and beer. It’s also about discovering Marquette County’s incredible natural assets. The seven chosen waterfalls have something for everyone: Some, like Morgan Falls and Yellow Dog Falls, lie within a few hundred yards of a parking lot and don’t require climbing or scrambling. Others, like Dead River Falls and the Upper Falls of the Carp River, reward dedicated climbers who aren’t afraid to scramble uphill over tree roots, stones and other obstacles.
Waterfall Week’s central promise to participants – one waterfall selfie, one beer – is appealing, but what if you want to visit all seven waterfalls?
Go right ahead, say the even’t organizers. A geocache scavenger hunt invites participants to visit all seven waterfalls and answer a riddle at each one. Each correct answer leads you a step closer to the hunt’s ultimate answer – last year’s was the word “breweries,” but “This year’s is a secret,” says Holland. Everyone who answers correctly will be entered into a drawing for one of five prizes: four “baskets” from each participating brewery and a $200 voucher for an overnight stay at a Marquette County hotel. They’ll also leave the geocache boxes out at each waterfall site until at least a week after the event, so latecomers who don’t care about entering the contest are welcome to visit – and grab some stickers from the participating breweries – whenever they have the chance.
The Views and Brews challenge is open to everyone over the age of 21. Of course, Marquette County’s waterfalls don’t check IDs, so you’re welcome to bring your kids along, include them in your photos, have them figure out the geocache riddles for you, and even bring them to the participating brewpubs. (They all have non-alcoholic beverages for youngsters.)
We hope to see you at one (or more) of Marquette County’s beautiful waterfalls – and cozy brewpubs – later this month! Just remember to prepare for the U.P.’s famously temperamental spring weather: Last year, Waterfall Week kicked off with a storm that dumped a foot of snow in the county’s higher elevations.