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.

Pure Michigan June 2014 Events Roundup

Summer is in the air and festival season is full swing in Michigan. Communities around the state will host a variety of celebrations, and it is the perfect opportunity to see what Pure Michigan is all about. Native Michiganders and visitors alike, there’s something for everyone happening this month. 

Below is a roundup of some of the many events going on around the state in June. Visit michigan.org for a complete listing of Michigan events.

Week of June 1 – June 8

Islandfest
May 30 – June 1, Grosse Ile
Islandfest, is a time to celebrate the beginning of summer and enjoy some small town fun. The week-end-long event features arts & crafts, a fine arts show, children’s activities, a midway, live music featuring 50 Amp Fuse, parade, car show, Friday evening fireworks, historical tours, aircraft displays and rides, a variety of foods and beverages for all ages, monster truck rides, and so much more. Islandfest is a free, fun, family oriented event where all are welcome. Come join the fun!

Jazz on Jefferson
June 4, Saginaw
Jazz on Jefferson is a free music and arts festival on Saginaw’s Historical South Jefferson Avenue that features regional and local artists and musicians. Festival-goers can enjoy festivities that include music, food from local restaurants and an antique and classic car and motorcycle show.

?????????????????????????????????????????Carson City Frontier Days
June 5 – 8, Carson City
Welcome to the 42nd Annual Carson City Frontier Days. The skies will be filled with hot air balloons in the 9th Hot Air Balloon Shoot-Out this year. Back by popular demand is the chainsaw carver with his amazing art, Kids’ Zone, the outdoor movie on Friday night and the fireworks to finish out the night on Saturday.

National Asparagus Festival
June 6 – 8, Hart
The National Asparagus Festival celebrates West Michigan’s famous crop with activities for all ages. This festival features live entertainment, an asparagus food show, the Grand Parade, the Spear-It 5k, an arts and crafts fair, a variety of kids activities and the opportunity to meet the Asparagus Queen!

Baraga County Lake Trout Festival
June 7, L’Anse
The 8th annual Baraga County Lake Trout Festival will take place Saturday, June 7, 2014,  which coincides with Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend. No fishing license is necessary on that weekend. (in case of inclement weather, the Festival will be held Sunday June 8). Activities will include 5K, kids games, bike race, arts and crafts fair, music by local talent, and more. All events will take place at the Waterfront Park and marina in downtown L’Anse.

Civil War Re-Enactment Weekend
June 7 – 8, Lexington
Union, Rebel, and Civilian Re-Enactors relive the Civil War on the the village streets and Harbor of Lexington, Michigan. Encampments show life at the time of the civil war. There is a fashion show on Saturday and the speaker, Patsy Chapman, will speak about the underground railroad. Each day the canons fire over Lake Huron.

Week of June 9 – June 15

lilac-bushMackinac Island Lilac Festival
June 6 – 15, Mackinac Island
The idea of the festival was to bring people to the island to enjoy a great horse drawn parade amidst the lovely lilacs that fragrance the island in June. Now a ten day festival, includes comedy show, afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel, music, walking tours, hayrides, arts and crafts, 10K run, Lilac Festival Queen, dancing, wine tasting, bingo, Lilac strolls and much more.

Hamburg Family Fun Fest
June 11 – 15, Hamburg
The Hamburg Family Fun Fest brings family fun to the park line never before, attracting more than 50,000 attendees. Feature attractions include amusement rides, circus, petting zoo, talent competition, classic car show, arts & crafts just to name a few. A variety of concerts will be held throughout the weekend on two stages.

Michigan Sugar Festival
June 11 – 15, Sebewaing
The Michigan Sugar Festival celebrates the Sebewaing-area’s contribution to the sugar industry and sugar beet crops. The event features a grand parade, a midway and the crowning of the Michigan Sugar Queen. There are town-wide garage sales and plenty of family fun.

Bavarian Festival 2014
June 12 – 15, Frankenmuth
The Bavarian Festival is located in the Harvey Kern Pavilion in Heritage Park. Sing and dance to Bavarian music played by costumed German bands. Taste the hearty Bavarian foods, plump bratwurst, barbecued chicken and homemade pretzels.

Antiques and Collectibles Show
June 14, Gaylord
Antiques and Collectibles, under the Pavilion On Court in downtown Gaylord. Free admission, plenty of parking nearby, 20+ dealers of quality antiques & collectibles. Furniture, primitives, textiles and vintage fabrics, glass, pottery, post cards, toys and much much more for sale. RAIN OR SHINE!

Pictured Rocks Day
June 14, Munising
This will be the second year for Pictured Rocks Day which will be held at Bayshore Park in Munising. There will be bands, vendors, food, beer tent, nature shows, stand up paddle board, and kayaking demonstrations.

Week of June 16 – June 22

Tecumseh’s Classic Car & Bike Show
June 19, Tecumseh
Get your motor running and head to Tecumseh to see over 200 cars and motorcycles on display in the United Bank & Trust Hickman Financial Center parking lot located at 205 E. Chicago Blvd. and the adjacent downtown parking lot from 6–8pm for all to enjoy.

Antiques on the Bay Classic & Antique Auto Show
June 20 – 21, Saint Ignace
The first of three auto-related events features restored classic and antique vehicles on display along the downtown waterfront. Entertainment and autos dating 25 years or older are all part of the fun. Registration and a Mackinac Bridge Rally are slated for Friday, with autos on display Saturday. Admission is free for the public.

riverdaysDetroit River Days
June 20 – 22, Detroit
The 2014 festival will continue to celebrate Detroit’s maritime, ecological and culinary culture while again featuring many proven crowd-favorite, family-friendly activities and programming elements from previous festivals. Interactive exhibits, large-scale sand sculptures, strolling entertainers, eco-friendly kids’ zones, carnival rides, and live concerts with performances featuring more than 50 local, national and international music acts will be back this year. $3 admission fee, after 5pm admission is $5.

Spring Fest Arts & Crafts Fair
June 21 – 22, Pentwater
Experience the beauty of spring and summer at our annual Arts and Craft Festival. Over 100 vendors provide hand-made crafts, a special skill or art, a skilled trade or antiques on the Village Green. We’ll have live music on the Green. This is a weekend not to miss.

Week of June 23 – June 30

Ford Fireworks
June 23, Detroit
The Parade Company is excited to pump up the City of Detroit, on June 23rd as we produce the 56th Ford Fireworks presented by Target, along the Detroit River. This event attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators for one of the most anticipated summer nights in Detroit,  one of the nation’s largest fireworks displays.

Ann Arbor Summer Festival
June 13 – July 6, Ann Arbor
The Ann Arbor Summer Festival is an exhilarating celebration of performing arts, outdoor entertainment, and community spirit. A boutique music and arts festival, the three-week gathering offers dozens of performances, activities, exhibitions, and screenings representative of the best in music, dance, comedy, film, circus and street arts, and family entertainment. the Ann Arbor Summer Festival produces two concurrent programs, one indoor and one outdoor, at various venues and spaces across the University of Michigan campus and in downtown Ann Arbor.

Freighter in locks with lots of peopleSoo Locks Engineers Day
June 27, Sault Sainte Marie
A Michigan landmark will open its doors to the public, when the Soo Locks hosts its annual open house Soo Locks Engineers Day on Friday June 27, 2014. The day celebrates the engineers who built the Soo Locks along with the men and women of the past and present who maintain the Locks. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers invite people of all ages to come explore the Soo Locks and avail themselves the rare opportunity to walk across the Lock walls. These walls make it possible for freighters to traverse the 21-foot drop between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. To gain a real understanding of how this engineering marvel works only a visit will do.

Lansing Beer Fest
June 28, Lansing
Lansing Beer Fest, Saturday June 28, 2014, 1pm – 6pm. Come out and enjoy the downtown Lansing area of Reo Town. Lansing Beer Fest is an outdoor beer festival on Washington Avenue that will exclusively feature 30 Michigan Breweries and 100+ craft beers. Food trucks, live music, vendors and more! Visit the website link for ticket information and featured breweries. This is a rain or shine event. Event held on Washington Avenue in front of Reo Town Pub.

Yoga At The Detroit Zoo A Record Setting Event
June 29, Royal Oak
Join The Yoga Movement at the Detroit Zoo on Sunday, June 29, 2014, for a special morning of yoga, music and fun. Participants will also have the opportunity to be part of an attempt to set the new Guinness World Record for “Longest Yoga Chain”. From beginner to expert, Yoga At The Zoo! is for everyone who enjoys yoga or wants to try it. Afterwards, participants can enjoy the Detroit Zoo at their leisure. Participation is limited to 2,500 and open to all ages. Tickets are $30 and available at the website link.

Harbor Festival
June 27 – July 6, Ludington
Harbor Festival is filled with nine days of exciting activities for you and your family to enjoy. With everything from touring our historic lighthouses to letting your little ones take spin on the Baby Badger, or taking in the incredible fireworks display at the beach, you are sure to walk away with memories that will last a lifetime.

Which June events do you plan to attend?