Pastyculture: Calumet hosts 14th Pasty Fest

Main Street Calumet photo Downtown Calumet turns into one big street party during the village’s annual Pasty Fest, which is being held this weekend for the 14th year.

CALUMET — Main Street Calumet’s Pasty Fest began 14 years ago in recognition of one of the cultures, which came to the area during the copper-mining era, according to Leah Polzien.

Polzien, Main Street Calumet executive director, said miners and their families who came from Cornwall, England, had a significant effect on Calumet, particularly with one of their favorite foods.

“We wanted to support the Cornish pasty history in the area,” she said.

For those who are new to the area, pasties are a pastry filled with meat and vegetables, which Cornish miners took with to work for their lunches. Over the decades, a wide variety of fillings have become popular, such as eggs and sausage in the breakfast pasties.

Polzien said because of Western Upper Peninsula Health Department regulations, the pasty bake-off will no longer include pasties made by individuals in their homes. The bake-off will now feature only commercially made pasties. The commercial vendors will sell kits, which contain their pasties.

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette File The Calumet High School marching band heads up Fifth Street in Calumet in 2013 during Pasty Fest, which takes place on Saturday.

“Then you can vote for which one you like best,” she said.

There will also be a pasty-eating contest, Polzien said, but it’s about how fast they can be eaten, not how many.

“It’s more like a race,” she said.

Polzien said Pasty Fest starts at noon Saturday. In years past, the parade started at 11 a.m., but this year it starts at 2 p.m. Vendors will be on Fifth Street from Wedge Street to Oak Street.

“We have a variety,” she said of the vendors.

Several musical acts are scheduled for Pasty Fest from noon to 6 p.m., Polzien said, including Bob Norden, Bob Hiltunen, Tom Katalin, Kevin Blackstone, Kerry Paul and Last Minute Mile.

Other events include a horseshoe tournament in Agassiz Park, and a car show next to the Keweenaw Heritage Center; the show is a fundraiser for the KHC.

There will be demonstrations of gymnastics and belly dancing. The Calumet High School drama club also will perform.

Polzien said there will be some interactive activities like hula hooping and yoga by Supernova Yoga of Calumet, and cardio-drumming.

“It’s like an aerobics class,” she said of the drumming.

The Main Street Calumet farmers market will be open during Pasty Fest, Polzien said.

Last year was the first year Pasty Fest took place on Fifth Street rather than in Agassiz Park at the request of downtown business owners, because when it was in the park, business was drawn away from them, Polzien said. However, there was a storm that day, so it was decided to move activities downtown.

“There’s hope for economic benefit,” she said.