Ten Can’t Miss Events at the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival

Grand Haven‘s Coast Guard Festival kicks off on July 25th! Today, guest blogger Stefanie Herder from Visit Grand Haven describes ten can’t miss events at the ten-day festival.

Coast Guard Ship - Photo Credit Ed Post

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

The Coast Guard Festival unofficially began in 1924 as a Coast Guard personal-only picnic, which included rowing competitions for service members stationed in Grand Haven. Over the past 90 years, the festival has become a premier event in Michigan with an annual attendance of more than 350,000 people including the nation’s highest-ranking Coast Guard dignitaries from Washington D.C. Because of the city’s the long history with the Coast Guard, Grand Haven was named the official ‘Coast Guard City USA’ by the United States Congress on November 13, 1998. Needless to say, the Coast Guard Festival is a pretty big deal for us Grand Haven folks.

This year’s Coast Guard Festival is July 25th – August 3rd and it’s sure to be the biggest and best yet! So in honor of the 10 day festival, here are the 10 Can’t Miss Events of the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival:

Coast Guard Festival Run
There is no secret to why over a thousand runners choose to participate in the annual Coast Guard Run. The race route is challenging but picturesque complete with stunning views of Lake Michigan and the famous Grand Haven pier and lighthouse. It even convinced this very non-runner to put on some running sneakers and participate in the event for the past two years.  The view is a well-deserved reward after having to scale the notorious hills on Grand Avenue.

Kids Parade
Shortly after the completion of the Coast Guard Run, families start claiming their spots in anticipation of the annual Kids Parade. Families, children’s groups, marching bands, and more are invited to take part of this community event. My little tradition for the past couple years has been to run the Coast Guard Run, have my favorite breakfast dish at the Dee-Lite in downtown Grand Haven, and then watch the parade. The perfect way to start a Saturday if I do say so myself!

Coast Guard Festival Community Picnic
Just like the first Coast Guard Community Picnic in 1924, this is a time for the community and Coast Guard personnel to celebrate the USCG’s long history in the Grand Haven area. The public is welcome to enjoy food, games, and music at Coast Guard Park in Ferrysburg.

Ship Arrivals & Ship Tours
The USCGC Hollyhock, USCGC Bristol Bay, and USCGC Biscayne Bay are set to sail into Grand Haven’s port. Everyone in town lines the Grand Haven boardwalk and pier to welcome the ships to the festival. I love walking down from our office to watch the ships parade down the river channel and back before they dock at Escanaba Park.  After the ships arrival, the public is welcome to come aboard for free tours presented by the ship’s crew throughout the remainder of the week.

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

Downtown Carnival
Downtown Grand Haven’s Washington Avenue transforms into a carnival midway complete with rides, games, and the sweet, sweet smells of elephant ears. In this unique setting visitors are entertained by carnival goers from street side patios of downtown eateries as the bright carnival rides light up the evening sky.

Street Dance
This event has long been a favorite to both locals and visitors during the annual festival. A block of Washington Street in downtown Grand Haven is closed for the evening so we can do as the event name promises – dance in the street! This year’s entertainment is provided by The Gents who will fill the street with your favorite rock and roll classics. With the carnival midway and historic downtown as your backdrop, get ready to dance the night away!

Craft Fair
The Coast Guard Craft Fair is one of the most popular craft fairs in Michigan with over 170 crafters from around the state and nation. During this two day show, Grand Haven’s Central Park is transformed in to an outdoor market filled with original, handcrafted goods. There’s always something new and unique to see at the Craft Fair.

National Memorial Service

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

At the heart of the Coast Guard Festival is the National Memorial Service held at Escanaba Park along Grand Haven’s waterfront. During this moving tribute the attention is focused on the brave members of the United States Coast Guard, particularly those who have “passed over the bar” in the past year.

Grand Parade
The Coast Guard Grand Parade is one of the largest and most popular parades in the state of Michigan. Nearly 100,000 people line the streets of downtown Grand Haven to show their appreciation for the men and women who serve in the United States Coast Guard as well as celebrate “Coast Guard City, USA”. In this 2-hour parade you’ll see marching bands, clowns, military units, Coast Guard dignitaries, local sports teams, colorful floats, and much more. I’m a HUGE parade lover and this one does not disappoint.

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

Fireworks Extravaganza
The Coast Guard Festival Fireworks are a 74 year old community tradition and one of the hallmarks of the annual festival. This fireworks display is known as one of the best in the state of Michigan and continues to get bigger and better each year. The show takes place after the completion of a special Coast Guard Festival edition of the Musical Fountain along Grand Haven’s waterfront. Paired with the carnival lights, large crowd, and music – it’s a magical scene.

Check out Coast Guard Festival in action in the video below!

 

 

 

Have you been to Grand Haven’s Coast Guard Festival? Tell us about your experience! 

Stefanie Herder Bio Pic - Photo Credit Marci CisnerosStefanie Herder is the Customer Service Coordinator for the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. She was born and raised in the Grand Haven area and graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management in 2006. Stefanie and her husband, Josh, enjoy taking full advantage of the four seasons Michigan has to offer including fishing, hiking, camping, snowshoeing, kayaking, golfing, and snowboarding.

 

Five Tips for Attending Ann Arbor’s Art Fair

The Ann Arbor Art Fair hits downtown Ann Arbor this July 16th-19th. With the work of 1,000 artists on display, there is a lot of ground to cover if you want to see it all! Today, Maricat Eggenberger provides some helpful tips for navigating the fair. 

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Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

This July 16-19, the Ann Arbor downtown will be transformed with over 1,000 juried artists featuring their artwork from all over the country. If you have ever attended the Ann Arbor Fair, you understand the diversity of art work represented and the lively atmosphere of Ann Arbor’s downtown and campus streets.  If you haven’t attended before, we hope you’ll make a trip to see what the Ann Arbor Art Fair is all about. We’ve crafted a list of our top 5 insider tips for before and during your visit to the Ann Arbor Art Fair, one of the largest outdoor art fairs in the United States.

Getting to the Fair & Parking: Parking for the Art Fair is very easy and inexpensive if you choose to use the Park and Ride Options available. Simply park at Huron High School, Maple Village Shopping Center, Pioneer High School or Briarwood Mall.  There are shuttles that will take you right downtown to the fair! For more information on the pick-up locations and ticket costs, check out the Art Fair Parking and Shuttle page.  Getting to Ann Arbor during the next few months may be met with navigational challenges if you don’t plan ahead. Orange construction barrels can be seen along most area roads indicating lane closures, and in some cases complex detours. Our local news outlet, the Ann Arbor News, has been doing an excellent job of keeping us up-to-date, but you can also check out Michigan’s Department of Transportation site for a detailed map including current and future construction plans.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Navigating the Fair: The best way to navigate the fair is to make sure you are armed with an Art Fair map.  Maps can be found on the Art Fair website. In addition, Art Fair guides are available at all welcome booths found throughout the fair.

Engage with the Fair: This year you have the opportunity to engage with the fair through Social Media!  Follow the Fair on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and then through your engagement you could be the winner of some great Art Fair throwback gear! Use the hashtag #ArtFairTBT when sharing your old photos from your trips to the Art Fair to enter. During your visit be sure to share your photos of your awesome art finds, delicious dining excursions and fun adventures using the hashtags #AnnArborArtFair and #VisitAnnArbor!

Ann Arbor Art Fair - Social MediaExperience the Art Fair Entertainment: In addition to the streets of booths to enjoy, the Art Fair also has live entertainment scheduled for during and after fair hours! Also, don’t forget to check out the Cooling Misting Station and the Art Activity Zones!  For more details on the musical performances and fun activities, check out the full schedule.

Plan Ahead: July in Ann Arbor can reach high temperatures, plan ahead with water bottles, cool and light clothing and watch the forecast for chances of rain.

Maricat EggenbergerMaricat Eggenberger is the Communications Manager for the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She’s a proud Michigander that loves traveling, anything eco-friendly and the little adventures in life.

What Not to Miss at the Traverse City Film Festival and National Cherry Festival this July

Summer is festival time in Michigan, and July brings two really big ones to Traverse City: the National Cherry Festival and the Traverse City Film Festival. Everyone has their favorite events, and guest blogger Mike Norton of Traverse City Tourism offers his own personal preferences.

I’m not normally a crowd person — but there are times when I will gladly hang out with thousands of other people.

Ball games, for instance. Oh, and the Junior Royale Parade at the National Cherry Festival.

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Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Now in its 88th year, the Cherry Festival (July 5-12) is Traverse City’s signature event, drawing as many as 500,000 attendees from around the country. And although some of my friends like to huff and puff about how long it lasts and how it snarls up traffic, most of us have events that we never miss if we can help it. I mean, with more than 150 family-friendly activities (air shows, fireworks, parades, games, races, midway rides, demonstrations, banquets and nightly outdoor concerts) it’s hard to avoid having a favorite.

For some, it’s the stunning airshow over Grand Traverse Bay, especially in years like this one when the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels will be the headliners. Even before the Festival officially gets underway, they’ll be giving us a Fourth of July treat, and for the next two days there’ll be free shows in the sky. Some folks will also be excited that this year the  Detroit Red Wings will be holding their annual development camp in Traverse City during Cherry Festival week.

Others love the nightly concerts down along the beach. This year’s lineup includes Collective Soul, Here Come the Mummies, the Bihlman Bros., the Gin Blossoms, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, the Under the Sun Tour (Sugar Ray, Smashmouth, Blues Traveler, and Uncle Kracker), Justin Moore, and Tommy James & The Shondells.

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Everybody has favorites: the marching band competitions, the food tastings, the fireworks, the midway rides, the excursions out to working cherry farms – after all, the Cherry Festival is still our way of celebrating Traverse City’s role as “America’s Cherry Capital.” And for many folks, the Big Event is the huge Cherry Royale Parade held on Saturday afternoon, the last day of the festival – an enormous procession of floats, bands, marching units, clowns and grinning politicians that draws 50,000 spectators each year.

But my favorite parade is a smaller affair, one that takes place on Thursday evening. The Junior Royale Parade is for kids – in fact, someone told me that it may be the largest all-kid parade in the country. Hundreds of youngsters make their way down the Traverse City streets, marching along, steering their decorated bikes and trikes, leading their reluctant pets, riding on their lovingly constructed school floats or dozing in their baby buggies.

Maybe it’s the early evening atmosphere, so cool and dreamy and filled with just-after-dinner contentment. Maybe it’s the earnest wholesomeness of the whole adventure. But when I’m sitting at the curb during the Junior Royale watching those kids go by, I feel a connection to a sweeter, less frantic time and place. I remember the sights, sounds and smells of summer celebrations when I was a kid – the kind of memories I hope my own kids have, the kind of memories that we should hold on to.

The other thing I’ve always loved about the Cherry Festival is that most of it’s available to ordinary working people. Everything is located within walking distance, and since almost all the events are free, it offers more than a week of affordable family fun. I think that’s one reason why it’s been listed among USA Today’s top ten festivals for several years running.

Traverse City Film Festival – July 29th – August 3rd

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Founded in 2005, the Traverse City Film Festival has been able to lure movie buffs away from the beaches and golf courses with an outstanding selection of independent, foreign, and documentary films, as well as premieres, parties, panel discussions and lectures about the world of film.

Most events are held near downtown — at the vintage State Theatre, the brand-new Bijou by the Bay theatre in Clinch Park, the City Opera House, and the Old Town Playhouse – but there are also free family movies shown each night on a huge inflatable outdoor screen at Open Space Park , on the shore of West Grand Traverse Bay. (Guess what – my favorite part!)

If you’re any type of a movie-watcher, most of these will be films you’ve already seen – probably more than once. But that’s not the point. It’s really about watching a movie while sitting on a blanket on the grass, surrounded by other folks. In fact, to keep the whole thing community-based, the Film Festival folks routinely ask participants what films they’d like to see on the big Friday night movie. This year, it’ll be “Star Wars.” Other free films this year are “Jaws,” “Jurassic Park,” “Casablanca,” “The Goonies,” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

The Film Festival is a “weatherproof” summer event that allows participants to sample from a broad menu of film screenings and other events at any time of day or evening. Since most of the events are concentrated in Traverse City’s compact downtown area, there’s a multitude of shopping and dining options close at hand. (Plus, there’s the added thrill of meeting up with a movie star or two out on the street during Festival Week!)

Other than the nightly films on the grass at the Open Space, most events during the Film Festival aren’t free – but they’re not unreasonably priced, either. Regular movies are $10, and sneak previews are $15. Around here we like to say that it “brings a little Hollywood to Traverse City!”

IMG_2782 copy - CopyMike Norton spent 25 years as newspaper writer and columnist before starting a second career as media relations manager at Traverse City Tourism. An avid cyclist, kayaker and hiker, he lives in the village of Old Mission.