Featured in Pure Michigan 2015 Spring/Summer Issue, beginning on page 83.
Butterflies are Blooming
Grand Rapids, March 1–April 30
Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory welcomes a colorful crowd of more than 40 butterfly species when the nation’s largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition arrives at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Listen for the tune of songbirds and the hum of waterfalls as you wander through the flowers that canvas the butterflies’ home. The Midwest’s own citizen, the monarch, demonstrates the butterfly’s metamorphosis—from milkweed-munching caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly—for all to see in the Grace Jarecki Seasonal Display Greenhouse (888/957-1580; www.meijergardens.org).
Great Bear Chase
Calumet, March 7
The Swedetown Trails swell with close to 600 cross-country skiers when the end-of-the-season event gets underway. Seven different competitions, each separated into age divisions, give skiers a chance to compete in either classic or freestyle races at 10K, 25K and 50K distances. This year, a 50K skiathlon lets skiers combine 25K on skate skies and 25K on classic skis into one big event. The competition kicks of with the Junior Bear Chase on Friday night, but don’t miss the spaghetti feed before the youngsters begin their race. Make sure to stick around for pasties after Saturday’s races and the presentation of the sought-after handcrafted wooden skis, made locally and awarded to the first place finisher in each age group of the classic race. Those top 10 male finishers and the top 5 female finishers in the freestyle 50K will garner a locally made copper plaque. The top male and female finisher of each race also receive a locally-made copper bear paw (906/369-2460; www.greatbearchase.com).
Clare Irish Festival
Clare, March 13–16
Saturday morning’s 5K and 10K road races attract runners in kilts, while the afternoon parade draws visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the leprechauns. Bagpipers, the Scottville Clown Band and the White Pine Pipe and Drum Corp also join the march through town. Afternoon festivities include a recipe contest, bed races, karaoke, a kids’ carnival and a craft show. Feast on corned beef and sip green beer while watching a clogging troupe, Celtic band or jazz group (989/386-2442; www.clearlyclaremi.com).
Port Huron, March 14
Start the Irish revelry early with a morning 5K run, 10K run or 2K walk on the Leprechaun Loop. Spend the afternoon watching a lively parade full of floats, pipe bands, Irish flags, green hair, leprechaun hats and music, and finish the night with a pub crawl (transportation available) (800/852-4242; www.bluewater.org).
Oscoda, March 28–29
More than 50 pairs and 20 individuals kick off canoe-racing season with an hour-long race in icy Van Ettan Creek at 1 p.m. Spectators can cheer on paddling participants at view points along the route. For those wanting to get involved on land, 5K and 10K runs finish the weekend on Sunday (989/820-5196; www.miracing.com).
National Trout Festival
Kalkaska, April 22–26
Catch the opening of fishing season in the nation’s trout capitol. Treat your taste buds to trout-themed cuisine from local restaurants at Taste of Trout, and cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award. On Friday, the kids prance through town for the Youth Parade, and Skerbeck Carnival and live music carry on their festival-long entertainment. The Grand Royale Parade continues the promenade on Saturday, entertaining more than 12,000 guests. The weekend fun keeps rolling with child and adult fishing contests, Kalkaska Idol, 5K and 10K runs and Whispering Pines Animal Kingdom. Spend the evening at the rodeo and end it with fireworks at dusk, and make a final splash on Sunday with a classic-car show and remote-controlled airplane and helicopter demonstrations (231/384-1509; www.nationaltroutfestival.com).
Maple Syrup Festival
Shepherd, April 23–26
Sweeten the weekend with real maple syrup from the Shepherd Sugar Bush and a favorite maple candy. Carnival rides start the festivities on Thursday, and continue with Friday’s Firetruck Parade and Sunday’s Maple Syrup Parade. Enjoy the festival’s sugary sap at the pancake and sausage meals Friday through Sunday. Watch the festival king and queen be crowned on Friday, and compete in a laser tag tournament. With a 5K run on Saturday, classic-car show, tractor pull and craft show starting on Friday, the festival promises to be a sweet treat for all (989/828-5422; www.shepherdmaplesyrupfest.org).
Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, April 26–May 2
The Blessing of the Blossoms on Sunday welcomes more than 250,000 guests to the state’s oldest and largest multicommunity festival. With Mr. and Miss Blossomtime reigning over the week’s festivities, take in traditions such as vintage baseball, Shoebox Float and Youth Parades and a 5K run/walk. The Grand Floral Parade, featuring efflorescent floats, equestrian groups, precision drill teams and marching bands—all led by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Motorcycle Drill Team—is the big finale of the weeklong celebration (269/982-8016; www.blossomtimefestival.org).
Holland, May 2–9
Celebrate more than 85 years of Tulip Time with more than 6 million tulips. Traipse along 6 miles of tulip-lined streets known as Tulip Lane. Step back in time at the marktplaats, reminiscent of 19th-century Netherlands with Dutch foods, crafts, dancing and shopping. Stop by the marktplaats Tuesday through Saturday for lectures from a master tulip gardener. A white-gloved inspector checks the streets before wooden-shoe-wearing scrubbers clean for Wednesday’s Volksparade. The jubilee continues with Thursday’s Kinderparade of 7,000 local youngsters and Saturday’s Muziekparade, featuring Holland High’s Marching Dutchmen, complete with wooden shoes. Artisan demonstrations of traditional wooden shoe carving and weaving keep the old world charm alive at the marktplaats. Stick around for live entertainment every evening, and keep an eye out all week for 1,300 authentically clad Dutch dancers. Make time to check out De Zwaan, Windmill Island Gardens’ own working windmill (800/822-2770; www.tuliptime.com).
National Morel Mushroom Festival
Boyne City, May 14–17
Get a full serving of these flavorful fungi and savor the views of Lake Charlevoix at this four-day festival. Start the weekend at 5:30 or 8 p.m. on Friday at Wine and Dine. This limited-seating, $45 flat-fee event at the Beach House Restaurant in Boyne Mountain Resort features five stations of morel hor d’oeuvres and complimentary wines. Continue the culinary-theme on Saturday at Taste of Morels, from noon to 3 p.m. A dozen local restaurants cater tapas-style samplings of different morel dishes with beer and wine available. If you want to gather your own meal of morels, a guided hunt on Friday and a competitive hunt on Saturday offer opportunity. Stay all weekend for a morel breakfast at VFW Hall, a crafts fair and concerts in lakefront Veterans Park (231/-582-6222; www.morelfest.com).
East Lansing Art Festival
East Lansing, May 16–17
East Lansing bursts with art and excitement as more than 200 juried fine art and fine craft artisans from all across North America arrive for a creative exhibition and marketplace. Up-and-coming artists get a chance to shine at the Emerging Artist program. An outdoor stage also features musical acts of varied genres, including blues, folk and Celtic, all weekend. Diverse foods and eclectic flavors are available at the food court, which focuses particularly on local restaurants and culinary entrepreneurs. Little Picassos can spark their creativity at hands-on art activities, children’s theater performances, storytelling and instrument workshops (517/319-6804; www.elartfest.com).
Native American Festival
St. Ignace, May 23
Come and honor the first Native Americans and the Anishinabe culture with drumming, dancing, food, music and cultural demonstrations on the Museum of Ojibwa Culture grounds (906/643-9161; www.stignace.com).
Alma Highland Festival and Games
Alma, May 23–24
With more than 40 clans in attendance, Scottish traditions take over the weekend. From Border Collie exhibitions to the U.S. Open Pipe Band Championship Supreme; from Highland dance competitions to hammer throws, caber tosses and other Scottish heavyweight athletic events, the festival is filled with authentic Scottish events. Entertainment tents with traditional music by Chelsea House Orchestra and the like, as well as a parade featuring pipers and drummers, are highlights of the weekend. Saturday’s 5K and 10K runs, kids’ fun run and arts-and-crafts fair are festival staples (989/463-8979; www.almahighlandfestival.com).
Fort Michilimackinac Reenactment Pageant
Mackinaw City, May 23–25
Colonial Michilimackinac, a reconstructed French fur-trading post, comes alive when a cast of Native Americans, French voyageurs and British redcoats reenact a 1763 Native American attack on Fort Michilimackinac. On Saturday at 1 p.m., the cast joins marching bands, floats, the Scottville Clown Band, military units for the Michigan’s largest Memorial Day parade (231/436-5574; www.fmpcfestival.org).
Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
Detroit, May 29–31
Belle Isle Park packs tons of action into a quartet of competitions: IndyCar Series’ Dual in Detroit; TUDOR United SportsCar Championship; Pirelli World Challenge Series; and SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road, a new motorsport in which high-powered trucks race side-by-side through an a vehicular obstacle course. A fan zone, Saturday concert, local bands and family fun build excitement (866/464-7749; www.DetroitGP.com).
Mackinac Island Lilac Festival
Mackinac Island, June 5–14
Fragrance fills the air during the 10-day celebration of more than 1,000 lilacs, including plants more than 100 years old. Sip afternoon tea at the renowned Grand Hotel before learning how to care for lilac bushes at Walk and Talk with Lilacs or taking a Legend and Lore trek through the forest. The popular Taste of Mackinac Culinary event takes place on Thursday and features samples from restaurants, fudge shops, wineries and breweries. The event’s final weekend includes a traditional dog-and-pony show and the Lilac Festival Grand Parade at 4:00 on Sunday. It’s one of the longest running horse-hitched parades, comprised of marching bands, bikes and the Lilac Festival Queen, but no motor vehicles (906/847-3783; www.mackinacisland.org).
Jackson County Rose Parade and Picnic in the Park
Jackson, June 7
Close to 100 entries make the Rose Parade one of Michigan’s largest. Featuring local bands and floats from community business, churches and agencies, the parade is a community event. Lasting about an hour and a half, the parade starts in downtown and ends next to Ella Sharp Park, the destination for after-parade events. Activities for the kids include coloring tents and face painting. A fire truck pull attracts teams for a fee, but is free for visitors to enjoy, as is the classic car show. Fill up on barbecue and food from other vendors during the day at the park (517/764-4440; www.jacksonrosefestival.org).
Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival
Frankenmuth, June 11–14
Little Bavaria hosts the state’s oldest and largest annual German gala, featuring authentically clad bands, traditional food, beer and dancing. Kinder Tag on Saturday is all about the kids, with a morning parade. On Sunday, join 75,000 visitors for the annual Bavarian Parade, the perfect start to Sunday’s festivities in Heritage Park—free of admission. Move along all weekend to Bavarian tunes played by authentically dressed German bands at the Pavilion (877/879-8919; www.bavarianfestival.org).
Waterfront Film Festival
South Haven, June 11–14
Michigan goes Hollywood when more than 80 independent films from across the globe arrive in the beachtown. Walk or catch a free bus ride to the premieres, and stay after the showings for Q&A sessions with filmmakers. Panel discussions with the actors, directors and producers let the festival’s 16,000 guests go behind-the-scenes. Make sure to bring a lawn chair for opening night, when an outdoor movie premieres on the lakefront, and downtown streets are blocked off for live music, food vendors and one big celebration with the stars (269/767-8765; www.waterfrontfilm.org).
Cereal City Festival
Battle Creek, June 12–13
See Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam and other cereal characters in Friday’s parade down Michigan Avenue; it showcases the cereal industry’s birthplace with floats, bikes, kids and those favorite breakfast mascots. On Saturday, Kellogg’s, Post, ConAgra and Prairie Farms invite visitors to eat free at the world’s longest breakfast table. Healthy living activities, conversations with living-history characters and close to 100 vendors attract 70,000 visitors to the festival. Musical entertainment and a classic car show complete the weekend (269/420-4031; www.bcfestivals.com).
The Flag Day Weekend and Parade
Three Oaks, June 12–14
The nation’s largest celebration of the American flag is a three-day event with Art in the Park and a pet parade. Activities for the kids are available, including a talent show for children and adults on Saturday. On Sunday, the world’s largest Flag Day parade begins at 3 p.m. and features more than 100 units honoring the United States flag, veterans and servicemen and women (269/612-0215; www.threeoaksflagday.com).
National Asparagus Festival
Oceana County, June 12–14
Fill up on this healthy spear at one of the nation’s only two asparagus festivals. A farm tour and food show focus on the flavorful veggie. Listen to live music on Friday and Saturday night, and stop by the arts-and-crafts fair during the weekend. Stay moving on Saturday with a 5K run/walk and parade. Settle down at the airport on Sunday to watch planes fly in for breakfast, at cost, and an aircraft display (231/861-8110; www.nationalasparagusfestival.org).
Free Fishing Weekend
Statewide, June 13–14
Everyone is welcome, no license necessary. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources sponsors the free weekend to promote awareness of the state’s water resources and fishing opportunities (517/284-6057; www.michigan.gov/dnr).
NASCAR Spring Cup Series Quicken Loans 400
Brooklyn, June 14
Get to Michigan International Speedway early for weekend festivities and a site at the state’s largest campground (8,800 campsites!). Qualifying races and the ARCA Racing Series begin on Friday night. On Saturday, the future of Sprint Cup racing competes in the Xfinity series. The big event takes place on Sunday, when drivers race around the fastest two-mile oval in NASCAR; Jeff Gordon posted a track-record qualifying speed of 206.558 mph last year (800/354-1010; www.mispeedway.com).
Pine Mountain Music Festival
Dickinson, Houghton and Marquette counties, mid-June–mid-July
Classical music and opera concerts bring music lovers to this summer series. Evening opera concerts, Bergonzi String Quartet concerts and a free concert for children provide music appreciation for all ages. Throughout the festival, more than 20 performances take place. Those wanting to delve deeper into the music can chat with performers and directors at an opening gala, dinner and reception (906/482-1542; www.pmmf.org).
30th Anniversary Leland Wine and Food Festival
Leland, June 18
Savor the festival flavors with award-winning regional wines, fresh food prepared by local restaurants specifically for the festival and live music, all under big, white tents on the beachfront park on Lake Michigan. Ring in the weekend with Artscape, a pre-festival opening event on Friday night in the Old Art Building. Attendees can sip on vintner’s flagship wines, indulge in appetizers from local eateries and view the artwork vying to be the festival poster for next year—all while listening to a live pianist. Festivalgoers can continue to cast their vote for the next year’s festival poster artwork through Saturday, with the winner revealed later that day (877/535-2631; www.lelandmi.com).
Detroit River Days
Detroit, June 19–21
Soak up the sights and sounds of River Days with more than 100,000 guests. From the Renaissance Center to Milliken State Park and Harbor, the International Riverfront exhibits tall ships, sand sculptures, riverboat tours and Jet Ski demonstrations. Artists showcase their large works of art at the popular Detroit River ArtScape competition, and more than 50 national and local acts perform (313/566-8200; www.riverdays.com).
Antiques on the Bay
St. Ignace, June 20
Check out original, unmodified classic cars displayed along St. Ignace’s downtown waterfront. All vehicles are 25 years or older, and period clothing brings the cars’ history to life. Entertainment and a rally on Mackinac Bridge are also part of the free, family-friendly festivities (906/643-8087; www.nostalgia-prod.com).
St. Marys River Cruise
DeTour Village, June 21
Treat Dad to a memorable Father’s Day with a cruise around DeTour Reef Lighthouse on a 65-foot double decker. A mile offshore, this 83-foot tall Classic-Revival-style lighthouse sits on a man-made crib instead of an island. Day cruise-goers set sail from the Lake Huron side of St. Marys River and travel north to the Soo Locks, where the boat crosses into Lake Superior. Buffet-style breakfast and lunch are provided, and historical narration animates the river and lighthouse (906/297-6051; www.drlps.com/news-events/river-cruise).
Ford Fireworks and Official Rooftop Party
Detroit, June 22
Motor City hosts one of the largest international fireworks shows, a 30-minute spectacular for more than 1 million onlookers. Viewing points are open at certain locations in downtown Detroit, but the best view for the big show is at the Official Rooftop Party, where the family fun—including music, games, prizes and food—starts in the early evening on downtown’s Miller Parking Garage. The fun continues all evening at this fundraiser for the Parade Company, which stages America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van Furniture(313/923-7400; www.theparade.org).
St. Ignace Car Show
St. Ignace, June 25–27
Nostalgia runs deep at Thursday’s Kewadin Casino-sponsored Cruise Night, when several hundred antique and classic cars, hot rods, custom cruisers and pickups coast into town. Friday night’s Down Memory Lane Parade keeps the memories of yesteryear alive with cherished participants like the St. Ignace Fire Department, complete with its 1929 Model A Ford. Saturday offers a sentimental display of hot rods, classic and antique cars, pickups and custom cruisers lining State Street (906/643-8087; www.nostalgia-prod.com).
Michigan Challenge Balloonfest
Howell, June 26–28
More than 40 hot-air balloons brighten the sky during the state championship competition and mass launches. During the day, stunt kites perform choreographed routines to music, artists display their handmade work in a juried arts festival and skydivers perform precision maneuvers. On Saturday night, the Balloon Glow and skydiving performers—complete with pyrotechnic sparks trailing their paths—keep the night sky alight (517/546-3920: www.michiganchallenge.com).
Art on the Beach
Oscoda, June 27–28
Mosey along Lake Huron’s shoreline in Oscoda Beach Park as the works of 125 juried artisans are displayed for sale. Fine art, crafts, photographs, and even toys, such as handcrafted extreme squirt guns and marshmallow shooters, make for an assorted exposition of art. Food vendors offer their culinary creations to visitors, as well (800/235-4625; www.oscodachamber.com).
Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival
Battle Creek, July 1–5
W.K. Kellogg Airport hosts a high-flying week, beginning with hot-air balloon launches at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., top air shows performing acrobatic maneuvers and pilots aviating precision flights. Enjoy festival fun on land with carnival rides, entertainment performances, an arts-and-crafts festival and novelty and commercial booths. Watch the fireworks on July 4, and eat all week from food vendors serving pizza and ribs (269/962-0592; www.bcballoons.com).
Manistee National Forest Festival
Manistee, July 2–5
Guided tours and sunset hikes welcome visitors to honor Manistee National Forest. Sandcastle sculpting contests, beach dances and fireworks over Lake Michigan celebrate the 280,000-acre preservation. A carnival, juried arts-and-crafts sale, live music and the Independence Day Parade entertain tens of thousands of festivalgoers, as do Saturday’s Customs-n-Classics Car Club Cruise and Sunday’s car show (231/723-2575; www.manisteechamber.com).
Ludington Area Jaycees Freedom Festival
Ludington, July 3–4
The Ludington Area Jaycees keep the 141-year-old Independence Day tradition alive as more than 30,000 people line Ludington Avenue for the holiday’s Grand Parade. Bands, floats, dignitaries and the Scottville Clown Band celebrate the nation and honor its veterans. Competing in categories ranging from Most Creative to Best Pet Costume, creativity runs high at Friday night’s Children and Pet Parade. Kids, pets, bikes and wagons are covered in red, white and blue for the patriotic-themed event—you may even catch Captain America walking by. Finish the celebration the American way—with fireworks over Lake Michigan on Saturday night (231/843-4663; www.ludingtonareajaycees.org).
Fourth of July Celebration
St. Ignace, July 4
A small-town celebration’s nostalgic sentiment and the scenery of Lake Huron and Mackinac Island combine for a memorable Independence Day. The parade starts at 1 p.m., and Kiwanis Kid’s games and a community picnic follow at 2 p.m. Fireworks over Moran Bay begin at dusk, signaling the end of a patriotic Friday (800/338-6660; www.stignace.com).
National Cherry Festival
Traverse City, July 4–11
Tangy tastes and festival fun come together in more than 150 events, including Cherry Farm Market and Cherries Grand Buffet. Cherries D’Vine features cherry-based cuisine and wine pairings, while cherry-farm tours let you see the fruit before the feast. The Cherry Capital of the World also hosts a pit-spit contest, cherry pie-eating contests for all ages, 15K Festival of Races, weeklong hole-in-one golf contests, live music and airshows featuring the famous U.S. Navy Blue Angels. The Cherry Royale Parade and fireworks over Lake Michigan’s West Grand Traverse Bay finish the festival on Saturday (800/968-3380; www.cherryfestival.org).
Fireworks over the Bay
St. Ignace, July 11–September 12, Saturdays
Take your lawn chair to downtown St. Ignace or anywhere along the waterfront to watch the fireworks over Moran Bay in Lake Huron every Saturday night (800/338-6660; www.stignace.com).
Gaylord, July 14–18
Sip to the start of this 4-day festival with the World’s Largest Coffee Break on Wednesday at the pavilion, following the 9 a.m. walking parade. Doughnuts and milk are also available at this free event. Stroll along Main Street’s Alpenstrasse to see authentic dirndls, Alpine vests and felt hats on display at the open-air arts-and-crafts show. Yodeling contests and the tune of 8-foot Alpenhorns bring Alpine sounds to town. Alpenfest Grand Parade, nightly entertainment, and an Alpenfest pin for daily food events make for an alpine good time (800/345-8621; www.gaylordalpenfest.com).
Ann Arbor Art Fair
Ann Arbor, July 15–18
Four juried art fairs equal one big event when more than 1,000 artists fill downtown streets and around University of Michigan’s central campus. Ann Arbor Street Fair, the original; State Street Area Art Fair; Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair and Ann Arbor’s South University Art Fair attract more than 500,000 visitors, munching on fresh food, listening to live music, watching artist demonstrations and engaging in artistic activities (800/888-9487; www.theannarborartfair.org).
National Baby Food Festival
Fremont, July 15–18
Everyone’s a Gerber baby when the company’s birthplace hosts its annual festival. Baby crawl and baby photo contests, bed races and frog-jumping contests delight kids of all ages in the Baby Food Capital of the World. The children’s parade of decorated bikes on Wednesday, tricycle races for adults on Friday, an arts-and-crafts fair Friday and Saturday, a weeklong Kid’s Zone and entertainment every night ensure festival fun at any age (231/924-0770; www.babyfoodfest.com).
Hot Air Jubilee
Jackson, July 17–19
Find a spot in Ella Sharp Park for hot-air balloon launches at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Stay after dark for Night Glow, when tethered hot-air balloons are illuminated, and live musical performances. During daylight, browse craft booths and classic cars, or stop by Kids’ Kingdom, featuring inflatable games and a tent full of contests and prizes (517/782-1515; www.hotairjubilee.com).
Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race
Port Huron and Mackinac Island, July 18
On Saturday at 10 a.m., more than 200 sailboats begin the race from Port Huron to Mackinac Island, the world’s second largest freshwater race. Mariners sail on two separate courses, a 204-nautical mile shore course for cruising and a 252-nautical-mile cove course for sailors seeking a challenge. Arrive early for carnival fun at the kick-off point in Port Huron (313/822-1853; www.bycmac.com).
St. Ignace Fish Feast
St. Ignace, July 18
The ‘Home of the Great Lakes Fish Fry’ brings fish delicacies from local restaurants, live music and beverages to St. Ignace Marina Pier. Kids can join the fun at Trout Fishing Pond or with a variety of other games. Fireworks over the bay promise a show for all (800/338-6660; www.stignace.com).
Sunrise Side Wine and Food Festival
Harrisville, July 18
The Big Top tent on Lake Huron’s Sunrise Side signals the start of this flavorful festival. Winemakers pour their choice wines, brewers tap kegs of local brews and regional restaurant chefs serve unique eats. Listen to live music and walk through the display of local artwork while you pamper your palate at Northeast Michigan’s largest wine and food festival (989/724-5107; www.alconacountychamberofcommerce.com).
Quake on the Lake
Pontiac Lake, July 18–19
Pontiac Lake actually quakes as boats speed through hot laps, qualifying heats and finals on the fastest course in the country, the lake’s one-mile oval. More than 19 world records have been set at the event from vehicles like inboards and Grand Prix boats, which can reach up to 160 mph. For some land-based speed machines, check out high-performance cars, classic cruisers and hot rods at Flaming Pistons Autorama (248/568-2925; www.quakeonthelake.org).
Charlevoix Venetian Festival
Charlevoix, July 18–25
The lakefront festival has been enjoying the spirit of summer since 1930 with Venetian Games such as tennis; foot races; swimming; croquet, soccer; and bike, board and blade races. Aquapalooza kicks off the festival with an on-the-water party, while national and local musical acts, a street parade and sailing keep up excitement all week. On Friday, the parade finishes with a fireworks finale. At dusk (around 9:30 pm) on the final Saturday, visit the dock on Lake Charlevoix to bid bon voyage to the celebration at the Venetian Boat Parade, where watercrafts decked in electric lights compete in various categories (231/547-3872; www.venetianfestival.com).
Little Traverse Yacht Club Annual Ugotta Regatta
Harbor Springs and Petoskey, July 24–26
Little Traverse Bay swells with 80 sailboats for one of the nation’s oldest regattas. Spectators can find excellent viewing areas at Harbor Springs and Petoskey’s downtown waterfronts; Bluff Drive in Harbor Springs, Zorn and Josephine Ford Parks and Petoskey State Park. Enjoy maritime moments all weekend between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day (depending on wind delays), walking along the docks of the City Marina afterward to view the sailboats (231/526-7919).
Saginaw Chippewa Annual Tribal Powwow
Mount Pleasant, July 24–26
The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe honors its Native American heritage at one of the Indian Nation’s largest events. Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Campgrounds hosts more than 400 dancers performing to traditional songs and dances, drum groups competing and Michigan’s largest powwow. Authentic crafts and foods and traditional regalia commemorate and demonstrate Native American culture (989/775-4000; www.sagchip.org).
AuSable River Canoe Marathon
Grayling and Oscoda, July 25–26
Canoeists paddle the AuSable River for 120 miles, racing through night and morning for more than 11 hours. Beginning in Grayling at 9 p.m., the professional canoe race starts Le Mans-style: racers carrying canoes overhead, sprinting to the river and jumping into their watercrafts. Onlookers can travel from bridge to bridge to watch the race unfold, and can also pull over their vehicles near the dam to observe. The athletes complete the endurance challenge between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday in Oscoda (989/820-5196; www.ausablecanoemarathon.org).
Maker Faire Detroit
Dearborn, July 25–26
Spark your inner inventor when 400-plus developers exhibit their works, ranging from robots to flame shooters; solar-powered mechanical sculptures to fashionable finds, at The Henry Ford Museum. The family-friendly event encourages unconventional ingenuity, unbridled creativity and forward thinking by celebrating the technology, artistry, engineering and education that today’s at-home inventors embody. While marveling at the next big thing, take a look back at the inventive oddities of days gone by, such as Henry Ford’s 1896 quadricycle (313/981-6001 or 800/835-5237; www.makerfairedetroit.com).
Cruz’in Classic Car Show
Montague, July 31
Auto history comes alive at the car show: all classic cars, hot rods and muscle cars are pre-1975. Find a point along the mile route from Whitehall to Montague, and watch the 7 p.m. parade of vintage vehicles, ranging from the earliest automobiles to well-restored classics, corvettes, and cruisers adorned with flaming exhaust pipes. After the parade, chat with car owners as they line the streets of downtown Montague. Classic records play for the whole family’s enjoyment at this alcohol-free evening (231/893-1155; www.whitelake.org).
Waterfront Arts Festival
Escanaba, August 1
Artist demonstrations, a young artists’ market and an art raffle supplement this juried arts festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Artists display paintings, glasswork, pottery, jewelry, fiber creations and other fine arts and crafts in Ludington Park on Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc. The Escanaba City Band, family-friendly music and a barbershop quartet add musical accompaniment at the band shell. Stop by food vendors to refuel during the artistic event (906/786-3833; www.bonifasarts.org).
Nautical City Festival
Rogers City, August 4–9
Opening night begins with the Sailor’s Memorial, honoring the lives of sailors lost and boats that have gone down in the Great Lakes. The local Veterans of Foreign Wars conducts the memorial service, which is followed by a performance of the city band at the Lakeside Park Band Shell. In the main tent by the harbor, a $40 Texas Hold ‘Em tournament also takes place on opening night. Wednesday is Kiddie Day and the first day of the festival’s amusement rides. Kiddie Parade and a teen dance at night in the main tent complete the day for youngsters. The juried arts-and-crafts show runs from Friday through Sunday, featuring more than 100 exhibitors and food vendors on the courthouse lawn. Those looking for some competition can take part in the weekend men’s and women’s softball tournament or Saturday’s volleyball tournament. An antique car show on Saturday, German and Polish dinners during the festival, live music under the main tent and Sunday’s parade make for a ship-shape festival (989/734-2535; www.nauticalfestival.org).
Abbott’s Magic Get-Together
Colon, August 5–8
The world’s largest manufacturer of magic tricks promises a spellbinding weekend in the Magic Capital of the World. Acclaimed magicians mesmerize with street and evening stage performances, at ticket-price. Magic dealers teach their tricks and offer magic for sale to those wanting to try their own sleight of hand. Buskers captivate crowds on city streets. Visitors can learn about some of Colon’s most well-known illusionists at the cemetery tour, which features 30 magicians’ graves. Complete the enchanting experience with a crafts fair and fireworks on Friday (269/432-3235; www.magicgettogether.com).
National Blueberry Festival
South Haven, August 6–9
Blueberries and beaches are the perfect combination when more than 40,000 visitors arrive for fruitful fun. Blueberry Central at Huron Street Pavilion offers fresh-picked blueberries, pies and jams, or you-pick bunch of berries. Basketball and volleyball tournaments and sand sculpting keep visitors active, while daily music entertainment from local acts, cover bands and a featured performer let guests relax on the riverfront. A pint-size pie-eating contest, carnival rides and storytelling are highlights of Friday’s kids’ activities. Saturday’s 5K and 10K runs, golf scramble and parade and Sunday’s car show fly-in breakfast at the airport—complete with blueberry pancakes—ensure a sweet treat for all (800/764-2836; www.blueberryfestival.com).
River Raisin Jazz Festival
Monroe, August 6–9
Live jazz washes over the banks of the Historic River Raisin for the 14th year, when free concerts by regional and national acts perform in St. Mary’s Park. Past performers include Kenny G, David Sanborn and Michigan-native Bob James. In town, the Fine Art Fair features close to 60 artists selling their work. St. Mary Catholic Central School hosts the food court, featuring everything from barbecued chicken to giant turkey legs (800/252-3011).
International SummerFest and Black Arts Festival
Battle Creek, August 8
Honor the community’s Japanese-sister-city agreement by celebrating other cultures with ethnic cuisine, entertainment, children’s activities and art exhibits (269/420-4031; www.bcfestivals.com).
Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show and Festival of Arts
Hessel, August 8
Hessel’s charming harbor becomes a display of classic watercrafts when boats drop anchor. Sailboats, cruisers, racers, canoes, dinghies, fiberglass boats and steam and gas-powered launches compete for the top place in their categories. Listen to live music and saunter along the dock to explore the restored vessels and view the works of 70 juried artisans, on sale at the Festival of Arts (906/484-2821; www.lchistorical.org).
Woodward Dream Cruise
Detroit, August 15
More than 1.5 million spectators line historical Woodward Avenue to watch 40,000 classic cars cruise through the world’s largest one-day automotive event. Bring a lawn chair and take a seat along the 16-mile route from Ferndale north to Pontiac (248/269-4354; www.woodwarddreamcruise.com).
Grand Rapids, August 15–16
Swing into Rosa Parks circle in the heart of downtown for this fourth-annual festival. Close to 10,000 visitors gather to hear well-known and up-and-coming jazz instrumentalist, singers, big bands and ensembles perform. Western Michigan’s only free jazz festival celebrates many area musicians and the local businesses in downtown Grand Rapids (616/443-4647; www.grandjazzfest.org).
NASCAR Spring Cup Series Pure Michigan 400
Brooklyn, August 16
Race to Michigan International Speedway for the closing of its Sprint Cup Series at the fastest two-mile track in NASCAR. Set in scenic Irish Hills, great camping areas abound for early arrivals and nature lovers. Bring your cooler (as long as it meets stadium requirements) and pick up your tickets—they’re free for kids under 12 and affordable for adults, too (800/354-1010; www.mispeedway.com).
St. Ignace History Week
St. Ignace, August 16–22
Local museums offer special presentations, community walking tours, historical fashion shows, genealogy classes and more during this weeklong tribute to the town’s rich history. Native American singing, geocaching and a variety of other events promise a proud celebration of community history, ending with a downtown parade on Friday (800/338-6660; www.stignace.com).
Upper Peninsula State Fair
Escanaba, August 17–23
For 87 years, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula state fair has been a summertime staple. Agricultural exhibits and young entrepreneurs in the stock building; the Miracle of Life Educational Pavilion; chainsaw carving; the UP Steam and Gas Engine Village and the State of Michigan DNR Pocket Park, a small park with archery ranges and fishing for kids, as well as a pond shaped like the Upper Peninsula, are crowd favorites. Fair food is a must with such vendor creations as Croatian chicken, Norm’s French fries, UP-dairy-made ice cream and pulled taffy (906/786-4011; www.upstatefair.org).
Wild Blueberry Festival
Paradise, August 21–23
Double-harvest time promises blueberry bliss at the celebration of low-bush harvest’s end and high-bush harvest’s beginning. Delight in blueberry brunch and a bake sale of wild blueberry pie, buckle and muffins. Puppeteers, magicians, storytellers and jugglers indulge visitors at the arts-and-crafts fair. Unwind with horse-drawn wagon rides at dusk, and let the kids’ artistic talent loose at a minimal-cost craft tent. Entertain the family for the weekend with pie-eating contests for the kids and Blueberry Jamboree’s live music on Friday and Saturday (906/492-3219; www.wildblueberryfestival.org).
Rendezvous at the Straits Powwow
St. Ignace, August 22–23
Visit French encampments, watch demonstrations, shop authentic wares from vendors, watch Native American dancing and drumming ceremonies and sample traditional Native American food during this two-in-one French voyager re-enactment and traditional powwow. The celebration takes place at the Father Marquette National Memorial and concludes with fireworks (800/338-6660; www.stignace.com).
Michigan Renaissance Festival
Holly, August 22–October 4 (weekends and Labor Day)
Be transported back to the 16th-century at the kingdom of Hollygrove. Mingle with knights in shining armor and ladies in majestic gowns at seven themed weekends. Watch live, full-armored jousting, jump right into grape stomping and walk through the Mermaid Lagoon to see live mermaids. Attend theater acts on 17 stages, listen to medieval music and shop from 300 artisans selling leather and wooden goods; glassware and jewelry; and Scotch eggs and giant turkey legs (800/601-4848; www.michrenfest.com).