It’s not time to pull out the school supplies and backpacks just yet! There are still many weeks of fun left to be had in Pure Michigan. Take a trip to metro Detroit for a Labor Day extravaganza of witches and peaches (Sure, that’s an odd combination, but The D’s variety in events truly appeals to every traveler). For a weekend worth documenting, you may as well try to visit all of the events. Here are our recommendations:
Michigan Renaissance Festival
Weekends Aug. 22-Oct. 4, Labor Day and Oct. 2
Ever wonder how the Knights of the Round Table lived? A 35-year-old tradition, Ren Fest takes you back to the late 16th century to a fictional English village called Hollygrove. You’ll find yourself rubbing elbows with pirates, wizards, fairies, trolls and other fantasy characters. The costumed presenters will juggle, joust, sing and dance to Celtic, folk and maritime music. There are scheduled shows, crafts, face and body art, jewelry, instruments, children’s toys, handbags, hats and period-specific clothing.
Ford Arts, Beats & Eats
Royal Oak, Mich.
Do you prefer arts, beats or eats? Never mind choosing; have all three at one of the state’s favorite cultural fests. (The numbers prove it; in 2014 more than 365,000 visitors attended). This year marks the No. 18 for AB&E. Arts: Soak up works from artists around the country at the Juried Fine Art Show. They’ll put up their best brushes forward since they’re competing. Works include ceramics, photography, jewelry, sculpture, wood, glass, fabric and digital art. Beats: While deciding which masterpiece will look best over your fireplace, tap your toes to the tunes of local and other musical artists on nine stages across downtown. Eats: The deliciously diverse options come from some of the finest grub spots in The D. Whether you’re eyeing comforting mac ‘n’ cheese or sweet potato pie or a Priority Health-labeled gluten-free, low-carb or vegan option, our tip is to do a few laps before making a selection.
Detroit Jazz Festival
The Detroit Jazz Festival is a downtown gem. It’s one of the year’s premier events that showcases Detroit’s authentic cultural flair. Whether you’re a hardcore jazz fan or not you’ll find an appreciation for the history and longevity of Detroit’s jazz scene. (The festival alone is now in its 34th year.) From Campus Martius Park to Hart Plaza and Detroit’s International RiverWalk you’ll find big names in the industry—think Terence Blanchard, Ramsey Lewis and Pat Metheny. A total of 100 acts will send smooth tunes across five stages. Staying true to its mission of nurturing young jazz musicians, each year the jazz fest hands the spotlight over to college and high school ensembles for performances on the Education Stage. There’s not much else like seeing young people inspired.
Michigan State Fair
Cooking demos. Racing pigs. Carnival rides. Shopping. There’s only one place you can do it all: the Michigan State Fair. A true-to-form family-friendly event, the fair got its claim to fame in 1840 in Detroit by being one of the country’s first statewide fair events. With such a legacy, today’s fair strives to reflect its roots of supporting agriculture, small business and family entertainment while celebrating the new direction of the Michigan Agriculture Industry. The Equestrian Pavilion horse shows are back to feature famous riders and horses from across the state. The Shrine Circus, founded in Detroit, with a repertoire of a century full of performances, will deliver laughs, thrills and elephants. You can also count on live music, a farmers market, an arts exhibit, a beer garden, dog performances … you get the point. It’s going to be a good time.
Romeo Peach Festival
The second-oldest festival in Michigan deserves a few nods. The Romeo Peach Festival started in 1931 and has ripened into a multi-activity affair for the entire family. It’s a visual spectacle in Romeo’s downtown, with several parades and car events. But crowds always find themselves most giddy over the crowning of the Peach Queen. To burn off the calories after your peach cobbler, register for the Fun Run/5K/10K Race. Then round out your experience with the Craft Show and Business Expo, Paint and Pour at the Lion’s Den and a Farmer’s Breakfast. Ever heard of a bed race? It may have nothing to do with the peach, but you’ll find that here, too.
About the Author: Danielle Schmidt is the Marketing Specialist (aka storyteller) for the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. She writes and edits for the Visit Detroit Blog, Visit Detroit magazine and various print and digital materials that promote The D and its comeback, while taking way too many pictures for Visit Detroit’s Instagram account.