Rock the Bay City Fireworks Festival this 4th of July with These Tips for Families

Credit: Craig Sterken Photography
Credit: Craig Sterken Photography

 

In case you haven’t heard, the Great Lakes Bay Fireworks Festival is kind of a big deal (understatement of the century, anyone?)

With two parks absolutely bursting with festivities – including the Skerbeck family carnival, live performances, entertainment tents, a car & bike show and one of the largest fireworks displays not just in Pure Michigan, but in the whole Midwest – the waterfront community of Bay City is absolutely alive with Independence Day sights, sounds, tastes, and treats.

Will you and yours join the approximately 250,000 who make it a tradition to attend the 3-day festival each year? We hope so! That’s why we’re sharing our tried-and-true tips for making sure your family has a blast at this year’s Bay City Fireworks Festival, July 2-4, 2015.

Get Ready to Rock

Credit: Craig Sterken Photography
Credit: Craig Sterken Photography

Before we get into all the extras ready to be soaked up by you and your family on your trip to Bay City this 4th of July, let’s talk essentials – like just how many fireworks you can tell your kids they’ll see, and where you should set up camp to view them from.

  • Location, Location!  Fireworks will be launched from 3 locations: Ball diamonds in Veteran’s Memorial Park, barges in the Saginaw River, and from a location in Uptown Bay City.
  • Epic Display: While celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2012, the Bay City Fireworks Festival (BCFF) fired off 50,000 shots in 50 minutes! For the grand finale on July 4, 2015, the BCFF plans to launch 35,000 to 40,000 shots in 36 minutes, creating an experience nearly on par with the commemorative blowout finale!

Your family could see the fireworks from just about anywhere in Bay City, but to truly soak up the action, Veterans Memorial Park (Westside, or west of the Saginaw River) and Wenonah Park (Eastside) are the places to be!

Eastside: Wenonah Park

The BCFF scene at Wenonah Park includes blankets spread about the grassy park as children and adults gobble up cotton candy, hot dogs and fresh-squeezed lemonade from the vendors and dance to live music- acts from Country to Blues begin at varying times each night.

  • Admission is $5 per person.
  • Coolers are welcome; pets, personal fireworks and alcohol are not. Hankering for an adult beverage anyway? Head to the entertainment tents to cool off and refresh with one.
  • Sponsored by AT&T, a VIP viewing area is available with multiple packages and options including a Thursday and Friday night $20 per person rate which includes a picnic-style dinner.  You can snag your spot now in the VIP area by calling 989-280-1591.

Eastside Family Secrets

  • There’s a Spot: Consider parking at the Dow Bay Area Family Y (paid parking, includes blocked off area to watch show from).
  • Eat Before The Show: Sorry, grillmasters. We know you were ready to flex that hotdog flipping, steak-charring muscle of yours, but no grilling is allowed in either park. Luckily, our Bay City restaurants are full of flavor and will help tide you over for the festival (but make sure the kids save room for some cotton candy!)
  • Slow Going: Be prepared for traffic afterwards – some say 1.5 hours, others say more. Fair warning. (And did we mention, totally worth the wait?)

 Westside: Veteran’s Memorial Park

Credit: Craig Sterken Photography
Credit: Craig Sterken Photography

Just across the river, the Westside scene is rockin’ at Veteran’s Memorial Park with live music, the Skerbeck carnivalTeen Zone Glow Party, Paint Party and Foam Party, the Car & Bike Show and more! John F. Kennedy Drive is closed to traffic for the festival, and “the main drag” is lively, colorful and packed with food vendors and entertainment.

  • Admission is $1 per person.
  • Coolers are welcome; pets, personal fireworks and alcohol are not. Again, if you’re looking to enjoy some adult beverages, cozy up nearby one of the entertainment tents.

Westside Family Secrets

  • Start Early: Early to mid-afternoon is the best time for families to visit the carnival. As the nighttime sets in, the carnival gets busier and less fun for teeny people.
  • Let’s All Go: Located next to Liberty Harbor Marina, the Teen Zone’s free Thursday-night “Glow Party” or Friday-night “Paint Party” and Saturday-night “Foam Party” ($10 pre-sale/$15 at gate) are a blast for kids of all ages! Parental supervision is required for youngsters. Also, just outside of the teen tent is a foam pit for little ones. Take advantage of this unique spot, families! It’s sure to be a hit with the kids.
  • Have a Ball Here: Hang out and watch the fireworks near the ball diamonds by the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge. Live bands play, and it’s not as crowded as the main drag. Also, the ballpark lights remain on after the show creating a safe, well-lit place to hang out until traffic clears.
Credit: Great Lakes Bay Magazine
Credit: Great Lakes Bay Magazine

Before You Go

  • Multiple Options: The Bay City Fireworks Festival is a 3-day get-down, with the grand finale event – July 4, 2015 – drawing the largest crowds. Many families attend all three days, visiting the carnival one day and returning separately for the finale, or visiting Wenonah Park one night and Vet’s Memorial Park the second. Others attend only pre-finale nights. So, spread the love over all 3 days of festivities and make the most of your time on Bay City’s waterfront.
  • Stake Out Your Stay: Especially if you’re packing up the little ones for the trip, finding a place to crash (and finding it early) is a must. After all, there’s no length of ride home we could imagine going well after the kiddos have a little too much fun and sun and a lot of cotton candy. Even if you don’t make it into one of our Bay City hotels in the center of the action, you can still book your stay at any regional hotel (many within a 20-minute drive).
  • How We Roll: Parking is available, but finding it can feel tricky. (Shhh! Many families park along the side streets of neighborhoods, and walk in approximately ¼ mile to the festival). Consider bringing a wagon for little ones, which doubles nicely as a mobile bed later in the evening.
  • Keep Cooler: With carnival treats and food vendors galore – locals rave about That Guy’s BBQ and B&C Pizza, by the way – who needs a cooler? If you do feel the need to pack a snack or two, coolers on wheels are the ticket; ice cold drinks and finger foods are the fare.
  • Wipe Out: Portable bathrooms with kids? Indeed. Pack sanitizing wipes? You bet! (Thank us later?)  Heads up: Even local families rent hotel rooms during the BCFF, if for nothing more than a personal restroom and a place to call homebase before, during, and after the celebration, regardless of whether they sleep there! Book from your choice of Bay City hotels or claim your room at one of our nearby regional hotels (and do it soon!)
  • Plan For Fun: Feeling spontaneous? Normally, we’re all for it! But with the size of this event, we think it’s best if you refresh yourself prior to your visit at the BFCC website to double-check information, times, prices, etc.

One Last Tip

Consider decking your family out for the BCFF in “glow garb” (available all over the festival) and pick something easy to spot, like three neon blue necklaces or two neon green bracelets on each wrist. After dark, in a sea of people, you’ll be able to easily spot your family, the kids won’t have to beg for the latest light-up toy at every turn, and best of all – instant souvenir! Be sure to get a picture of your family all aglow for a little takeaway from your Bay City Fireworks Festival experience, and hashtag your photos on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook with #GoGreat and #BayCityFireworks to share.

Credit: Great Lakes Bay Magazine
Credit: Great Lakes Bay Magazine

So you read this entire post of tips for families even though you’re not traveling with kids?

That’s okay.  We still love you (and we’d still love to have you here).  So, go ahead – treat yourself, your spouse, and your friends to a more adult-friendly version of the festivities. Try a Bay City Fireworks Dinner Sail aboard the Appledore IV Tall Ship (featuring a relaxing dinner aboard the ship, followed by VIP seating for the fireworks display), or a Bay City Fireworks Dinner Cruise on the Princess Wenonah on July 3rd or July 4th (featuring live entertainment and an Atrium-catered meal while aboard, followed by VIP Viewing Area seating at Wenonah Park for the fireworks show).

Want more insider travel tips from our local experts? Follow us on the #GoGreat Blog!

Meet The Blogger:

Jen Wainwright is a freelance writer in Bridgeport, Michigan. She specializes in marketing communications copy, feature articles and compelling content/blog posts. Jen enjoys experiencing multicultural opportunities in the Great Lakes Bay Region with her family, camping and laughing. You can find her at www.jenwainwright.com.

To 4th of July and Beyond: Summer-fun Oscoda Events for the Entire Family

Photo Courtesy of the Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of the Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Michigan in the summer provides memories no one will forget. Swimming in the Great Lakes, hiking along beautiful trails and ending the day at a family barbecue. Today, the Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau tells us exciting ways to celebrate the Fourth of July and activities to enjoy over the summer on Michigan’s sunrise side.

Fourth of July Celebrations

11 a.m. – Take a guided nature walk at the Lumberman’s Monument. You will hear interesting facts about the areas lumbering past, while enjoying the wonderful sights.

12 p.m. – Enjoy a picnic lunch before heading to the downtown celebration parade at the American Legion. It’s just $5 for a delicious meal and free to members.

1 p.m. – Watch the magnificent parade in downtown Oscoda on US 23 beginning at Cedar Lake Elementary School and heading south to Mill St.

6 p.m. – Come out and enjoy a community picnic at the Oscoda Beach Park. Either bring your own delicious treats or come to enjoy ours. There will be games, sandcastle building and so much more.

7 p.m. – Concerts on the lawn are a summer tradition. The Tawas Bay Players Singers will perform at the Oscoda Beach Park. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the summer jams. Pop and popcorn will be available to purchase.

Sunset – For an end to a perfect day, sit back and enjoy the fireworks display over beautiful Lake Huron at the Oscoda Beach Park. The Oscoda Lions Club and Oscoda Rotary Club will be selling hot dogs, chips and soft drinks. It will be a sight the entire family won’t want to miss.

Eagle’s Nest Overlook

Photo Courtesy of the Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of the Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Eagle’s Nest Overlook is one of the most famous overlooks in the Huron National Forest. A pair of eagle’s have called it home since 1985. A summer day where one can’t see eagles soaring over Cooke Pond is rare. So bring your binoculars and view one of the most spectacular sights in Pure Michigan.

Ausable National Scenic River

Photo Courtesy of the Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of the Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The AuSable National Scenic River is a 23-mile portion of the AuSable River that stretches from Mio to Alcona Pond. The river receives national recognition for its outstanding and remarkable scenic, recreational, biological and historical values. Byway travelers will find abundant of recreation opportunities, from motorized trails for off-road vehicles and snowmobiles to quiet trails for hiking and cross-country skiing. For a more relaxed experience, visitors will enjoy the lush forest and breathtaking vistas from the many scenic overlooks along the route.

Iargo Springs

Photo Courtesy of the Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of the Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Iargo Springs lies adjacent to River Road and has been used continuously since pre-settlement times as a drinking source. Tradition has it that government surveyors named the site in the 1840s, having gotten the name from the local Indians who used the location for tribal powwows. This spot provides a spectacular panoramic view of the AuSable River and large natural springs. Go on a hike up to the spring area boardwalk, observation deck and read explanation signs along the way.

Sunrise Side Wine & Hops Trail

Photo Courtesy of the Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of the Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Known for its location and convenience, Sunrise Side Wine & Hops Trail Alliance entices thousands of visitors each year to experience over a dozen wineries, locally crafted brewmeisters, and attractions. Wine and hops aficionados will discover beautiful scenic views, one of a kind attractions, eateries and quaint towns rich in history and flavor. Spend a day or more traveling through Michigan’s friendly Sunrise Coast.

Reid Lake Foot Trail

Photo Courtesy of the Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of the Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Once part of a northern Michigan farm, this 3,000 acre tract includes forested uplands, swamp hardwoods, beaver impoundments, marsh and open lake areas. Wildlife abounds including deer, turkey, beaver, birds and fish. The forest in the area is primarily hardwoods and creates a small, remote, lake environment. The lake is a small, 13-acre, with a variety of fish. Twelve miles of gently rolling trail will lead you around Reid Lake.

What are some of your favorite summer activities in Oscoda?

Pure Michigan June 2015 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.

June 1 – 6

Jackson Blues Festival
June 4 – 6, Jackson
Enjoy three days of blues performers including international, national and regional bands, with a major act headlining each night. Be sure to bring your lawn chair or blankets. Friday, June 5th at 6 p.m., the first 100 kids will receive a free harmonica, t-shirt and sunglasses as well as the opportunity to perform with the musicians!

Sip and Dab
June 5, Traverse City
Paint with local artist, Shelly Morey, as you are guided through your own paint on canvas masterpiece; all experience levels welcome. Create a memory of art with Sip and Dab while sipping the wines of Peninsula Cellars–Old Mission Peninsula. You may and are welcome to bring your own snacks to this event if you wish.

Forest Frenzy Race
June 5 – 6, Midland
Get caught in the wild excitement of the Forest Frenzy as you push yourself to the limit and face intense obstacles head on. You’ll be forced to crawl under, maneuver over, climb atop, and slip-slide your way through Midland’s City Forest. And, for the ultimate race experience for thrill-seeking athletes, attempt the course in the dark!

Festival of Cars
June 6, South Haven
The Festival of Cars has drawn as many as 200-350 antique cars, trucks, and bikes to downtown South Haven! Free admission for spectators, donations accepted. Special musical guest this year is Local Band “Matt and Dylan”! We are pleased to announce Festival of Cars car show this year will have a monster truck.

Spring Bird Walk
June 6, Charlevoix
Join Little Traverse Conservancy and the Petoskey Regional Audubon Society (PRAS) at the Ransom Preserve where delightful mixtures of habitats are available for a wide diversity of bird species. Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings and Great- crested Flycatcher have been regular in the past.

June 7 – 13

18699_lilac-bushMackinac Island Lilac Festival
June 5 – 14, 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.

Bavarian Festival 2015
June 11 – 14, 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.

Back To the Bricks Car Tour
June 12, Battle Creek
Come downtown from 6:45 p.m. to 9 p.m. and see the classic cars participating in the Michiana Promo Tour. Over 150 classic cars will line the streets of downtown Battle Creek. See the cars and join in the fun at Wave Park where a live DJ will be playing music and giving out prizes.

National Asparagus Festival
June 12 – 14, Hart
The National Asparagus Festival celebrates West Michigan’s famous crop with a unique festival with activities for all ages. This festival features an Arts & Crafts Fair, a variety of children and family activities, the Spear-It 5K Run, an asparagus farm tour, an asparagus themed food show, the Royale Parade, live entertainment, and the opportunity to meet the one and only Asparagus Queen!

Art in the Park
June 13, Hudsonville
The Hudsonville Area Arts Council will host the 7th Annual Art in the Park outdoor arts and crafts fair on June 13, 2015 in Veterans Park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to spaces for over 50 arts and crafts vendors, the event features food vendors, artist demonstrations, children’s play area, and live entertainment. This is a free, family-friendly community event.

June 14 – 20

19117_Pictured Rocks Day 2014 Image aPictured Rocks Days
June 13 – 14, Munising
There will be vendors, bands, food, outdoor activities, demonstrations and other outdoor shows. The festival will take place at Bayshore Park, overlooking the beautiful bay and the city dock in Munising, MI. Mark this weekend on your calendar for a fun-filled weekend for all ages!

Family Ecology Sail
June 14, Bay City
Are you and your kids interested in learning more about the ecosystems in which we all live, work and play? Do you know which watershed you live in? Have you ever wondered what exactly a watershed is? There’s no better place to answer these question than from the deck of a tall ship! Join us on the Appledore IV for a fun day of learning the science of our land and waterways. The Family Ecology Sail is a hands-on experience for everyone aboard. Snacks and juice/water are included.

Ann Arbor Book Festival
June 17 – 20, Ann Arbor
Each night of the festival, Michigan authors and poets gather for a Book Crawl at local restaurants, bars, bookstores, and shops to read from their latest works. On Saturday, June 20th, the last day of the Festival, a Street Fair will be held in downtown Ann Arbor. This day-long, family-friendly event will gather authors, libraries and literacy groups, publishers, artisans and writers groups and will include dynamic programming.

Gallery Walk
June 18, Petoskey
The galleries of Downtown Petoskey welcome the public to this evening of art and fun. This is your chance to visit local galleries in an open house setting; some locations even have the artists on hand. Don’t miss the afterglow party beginning at 9 p.m. giving you the chance to win some wonderful pieces of art from the participating galleries.

Beach Wellness Day
June 20, Bay City
Join us for this 5K, 10K Walk and Run along the shores of the Saginaw Bay and Kid’s Fun Run. This event also features a volleyball tournament, music concerts, a car show, concessions & more! All proceeds benefit the park.

June 21 – 27

Father’s Day Arts & Crafts Festival
June 20 – 21, Whitehall
More than 75 talented and creative artists will participate in this very popular juried art show from 10am – 5pm on Saturday the 20th and from 11am to 4pm on Sunday the 21st. Those attending can purchase a variety of hand-made art and crafts such as jewelry, wood furniture, birdhouses, ceramics, items for the garden, clothing, paintings and prints, folk art, leather goods, floral designs, stained glass, signs, children’s toys, and bath items.

Dawn Patrol Fly In
June 21, Bay City
Skydivers, aircraft, and many more displays. Barrel Plane rides for children at no charge. Airplane tours of the area will be available at the cost of $25 per seat. Dawn Patrol Fly-in Pancake Breakfast served: $7 for adults, $5 for children 5-10, 5 and under free.

Ford Fireworks
June 22, Detroit
The Parade Company is excited to pump up the City of Detroit, on June 22nd 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.

Soo Locks Engineers Day
June 26, Sault Ste. Marie
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.

Pasty Fest
June 27, Calumet
Celebrate the Keweenaw’s “Pasty” history with a parade, children’s games, a pasty sale, live music and dancing with the Pasty Bake-Off for the coveted Copper Pasty Award. Event held at Agassiz Park.

Marquette Trails Festival
June 26-28, Marquette
Featuring mountain bike races, trail runs and family hikes, Marquette’s trails will be open for a fun weekend for all non-motorized trail users. Bring your family out for a good time to bike, run or hike and raise funds for your community trails. All proceeds from this event go to the NTN Singletrack Trailbuilding.

June 28 – 30

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMichigan Challenge Balloonfest
June 26 – 28, Howell
The state championship of hot-air ballooning features balloon launches, entertainment and family attractions.

Grand Haven Art Festival
June 27 – 28, Grand Haven
One hundred juried artists line the streets downtown, displaying their handmade, one-of-a-kind art pieces. Visit the annual Grand Haven Art Festival to find that perfect piece for your home, cottage, and office.

Log Cabin Day at Old Victoria
June 28, Rockland
Celebrate Log Cabin Day at this historic mining village, where history comes alive and the past greets the present. The day will feature delicious cinnamon rolls, baked from scratch in the traditional woodstove. Kids of all ages will love the old-fashioned kid’s games and races on the lawn, and adults will love the show! The historic site will be open to the public, free of charge, and there’s no better way to learn about copper mining history than hands-on!

Ride for Nature Scenic Bicycle Tour
June 28, Spring Lake
Spend a summer’s day on the lakeshore, touring scenic natural areas and picturesque small towns. Each of the four routes on this non-competitive ride will feature parks and nature preserves. Riders are encouraged to stop along the way, enjoy the views, and take a stroll on the nature preserve hiking trails.

These are just some of the many events and festivals happening around Michigan. Which June events do you plan to attend?