HOUGHTON - The annual Parade of Nations and Multicultural Festival returns to Houghton and Hancock for its 23rd annual installment Saturday.
More than 60 countries will be represented in the parade, which starts in Hancock at 11 a.m. and wraps up at Dee Stadium at noon. This year's theme is "Celebrate."
"The floats will revolve around that theme," said Darnishia Slade, assistant director of international programs and services at Michigan Technological University.
Stephen Anderson/Daily Mining Gazette
Community members from the People’s Republic of China walk in the 2011 Parade of Nations. This year’s parade is slated to start at 11 a.m. Saturday.
This year's grand marshals are Nancy and Dianne Sprague, who were recognized for their longtime support of cultural endeavors in the area.
Parade judges are Glenn Anderson, Hancock city manager; Tara Evans, assistant director of Tech's international programs and services; and Jennifer Donovan, Tech's director of public relations.
At the Dee, the Multicultural Festival will have 43 booths, up seven from last year, including 17 national and ethnic cuisines. This year's has probably the highest number of arts and crafts booths in its history, said Bob Wenc, community outreach liaison for Michigan Tech.
The Society of Intellectual Sisters returns after a year off with their "SIS-ka-bobs," while the Black Students Association will return with its assortment of barbecued food.
"That's one people count on," Wenc said.
This year's events include representation from several new national cuisines: Bangladeshi, which will have two booths; Nepalese; and Brazilian.
"I looked at the desserts - oh my gosh," Wenc said.
For local businesses, Hunan Garden will return, joined this year by Ming's Asian Bistro. The Library Restaurant & Brew Pub will also sell sushi at the festival for the first time; it may have food from its upcoming Mexican restaurant, Habaeros.
This year's parade and festival won't have a headlining act. Instead, Slade said, they're going to spotlight some local talent. Performing will be the Copper Country Cloggers, Michigan Technological University dance team, Medievalist Club, Kivajat Dancers, music from the Hassle Group, several performances from the Indian Students Association, singing from Zichen Qian and a performance of the National Anthem by Karen Colbert.
Between acts at the Dee, there will be a 50/50 raffle. Emcee Mark Wilcox will announce a trivia contest, with the top prize a $70 gift certificate to a local business.
People will also be able to visit alpacas from Keweenaw Alpacas. There will be cheek painting for children, as well as full face painting from Roxanne Carson of Baraga. Native Nails will also be doing temporary henna tattooing.
There will also be a kids' booth with a free pony ride.
There will be arts and crafts from countries including Bolivia, Ghana and China. Ray Just of Northern Minerals will have an array of copper specimens and jewelry.
"We have more of these kinds of booths than we've had in the past," Wenc said. "It's exciting. They're very unusual."
Organizers include representatives from Michigan Tech and Finlandia University, as well as Homestead Graphics and Eagle Radio.
"It's a great mix of the community, both universities," Slade said. "Our goal is to continue to expand."
Anyone interested in volunteering to help be part of the Parade organizing committee for future years can contact Tech's International Programs and Services department at 487-2160.