The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Lupine Junefest kicks off Mercer summer fun


June 16, 2020

Charity Smith/Daily Globe

Brothers Dan and Jerry Jones from Menominee, Mich., formerly of Ironwood, Lori Booth of Ironwood, Bob Jacquart of Ironwood, and Bill Wagener of Mercer were one of the few larger groups participating in Saturday's Lupine Junefest bike ride. Many of the participants were spread out this year, choosing to ride in groups of two or solo. Booth said that they have been participating in the event for eight years, and it "kicks off their biking season." "We will definitely come back next year. It's so pretty out there and it was a beautiful day to be out," she said.


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MERCER, Wis. - The Mercer Area Chamber of Commerce kicked off its summer fun schedule on Saturday with the 14th annual Lupine Junefest, a bike ride through the rural area where lupine wildflowers grow on the side of the roadways.

"It's just about being able to promote our area, and get people out and utilizing our trails," said Chamber Director Melissa Biszak.

This year, the event consisted of three routes of 10, 15 and 28 miles.

Biszak said that they usually offer a 50-mile route, but due to a shortage of volunteers and safety concerns, they did not offer the longest route this year.

The routes ran along County Roads G and H, as well as the Vilas County bike trail, which goes between Mercer and Manitowish Waters. No roads were closed, as bikers rode on the side of the roads. Sheriff deputies did offer assistance to help make sure there were no "issues along the way."

"Its just a really pretty ride and time to get up into the Northwoods," said Wendy Aspinwall, of Rothschild, Wisconsin, who participated in the event for the second year with her husband, Bob. "It's a really good form of exercise and a good way to meet people and see the state."

According to Biszak, participation was down by nearly 50%, with 107 participants this year. "That is not too bad considering everything," she said.

"We're happy this event was going on this year because a lot of the other big events are cancelled," Aspinwall said. "This is a smaller ride which I think helps. It is easier with smaller rides to keep things socially distant."

Many of the bikers said the event starts their biking season. Ed Petersen said he participates in the ride as training for longer bike rides to come later this summer.

"It is just a really beautiful ride. The lupines are fantastic. It's a fun ride and it is just enjoyable," said Amy Smet, of Wasau.

Dan and Dianna Buechel came from Appleton for the ride. "It is just fun to have the hills, compared to the valley where everything is flat," said Dan Buechel.

Dianna Buechel said there was an abundance of lupines this year. "They were fantastic," she said.

Dave Lombardo said that he participates because he enjoys supporting local events and it is "beautiful out there and it's a pretty ride."

Biszak said they will be trying to keep as many of their events as possible this year.

"Obviously there is going to be changes to every event that we have, but as long as we are able to do it and provide some opportunities for people to be able to get out there and be with their families and friends and whatnot, we'll try," she said.

Biszak said that they are especially short on volunteers for all their events. For more information, contact the chamber at 715-476-2389.


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