A taste of summer for the Great Lakes Bay region


Is the high cost of gas making you rethink the road trips you had planned this summer?

Is the growing number of canceled flights making you a little anxious about your summer vacation plans?

It may be time to plan a “Staycation”.

Staying in Michigan, or even the Great Lakes Bay Area, may be the right plan for your family. As more and more people look to stay this summer, travel companies in Michigan are aiming to attract people to explore their local surroundings.

Jill Shorkey, Midland travel expert at Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Officesaid the area abounds with green spaces and outdoor recreational activities, such as the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County and the Pere Marquette Rail Trail in Midland County.

State Travel Director Dave Lorenz said he also expects more Michiganders to avoid out-of-state road trips and flights. In fact, due to travel demands, staff shortages, delays, and fuel costs, Lorenz recommends travelers postpone their flight, at least for now.


He said the state’s travel team is marketing more to the Great Lakes region (Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, etc.) this year as people will be looking to travel relatively shorter distances. He said a national campaign would not make sense this year.

Michigan residents could also choose to be “tourists in their own towns,” Lorenz said, staying at a local hotel and then doing the things that visitors do. He said the Great Lakes Bay area would be a perfect place for that.

“It’s a great thing about (the) region,” Lorenz said. “(He) really has it all.”

Here’s a quick look at some of the upcoming events you can look forward to this summer. For more information, visit www.gogreat.com Where www.michigan.org.

Food and drink festivals

Food and drink-focused festivals will be held across the region this summer, including in Midland. The seventh annual Tapped Craft Beer Festival will be held from 6-9 p.m. on June 18 at the Larkin parking lot. Local food vendors, breweries, live music, lounges and outdoor games will be on hand, along with a beer garden on the top floor.

Tapped won’t be the only beer-soaked celebration in Midland. MiBrew Trail, a Hearst publication, is hosting the first Great Lakes Beer Festival from 2-7 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Dow Diamond. More than 50 craft breweries and cider houses will be on hand to provide refreshments for adults, as well as concessions, live music and a cornhole tournament.

Auburn will celebrate agriculture with its 51st annual Cornfest. From July 7 to 10 there will be a market, a cornhole tournament and a parade at the end of the festival on July 10.

Later in July, Munger will host its annual Potato Festival July 28-31. People can enjoy potato brats and the contest to crown the potato queen.

Further east in Michigan’s Thumb is a small town that hosts one of the biggest festivals in the state. From August 12-21, the Caseville Cheeseburger Festival will enter its 24th year, with plenty of cheeseburger stalls to try. Its annual Tropical Fools Parade will take place on August 17.

But if residents of the Great Lakes Bay Area are willing to take the longer drive north to Traverse City for its famous National Cherry Festival. Arts and crafts, parades, pancake lunches, beer tents, and of course, any cherry-related food you could think of!

Arts and Crafts

For those looking to enjoy the visual arts, they won’t have to look far to find them. During the first weekend of June, downtown Midland will be taken over by its annual summer art fair and Art Seen festival.

The Summer Art Fair, which takes place June 4 and 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., features plenty of art and food vendors for people to enjoy. The Art Seen Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the same dates, featuring community mural projects at Ace Hardware and behind Little Forks Outfitters. Community members will be able to paint parts of the murals.

In anticipation of summer in Bay City, the 48e The YWCA Riverside Art Festival will take place June 11-12 in downtown Bay City. An art contest will be held along the Saginaw River.

Music

Speaking of the Cherry Festival, this festival will also feature a host of big names for concerts throughout the festival. Names like Sheryl Crow, Boys II Men, ZZ Top, Collective Soul, Nelly, etc. These concerts will take place from July 2 to 9 at various prices. A complete overview and the concert schedule can be found on the cherry festival website website.

Later in August, those wishing to enjoy more traditional European music could attend the Frankenmuth Summer Music Fest. German-Polish polka music will be the main focus of the five-day festival. The music festival will take place from August 9-13, with ticket prices ranging from $16-25, with teens paying $10 and children entering free.

Continuing with traditional music, but perhaps with more variety, the 49th Annual Wheatland Music Festival will take place in the town of Remus, in the middle of Michigan. From September 9 to 11, the festival brings together musical artists practicing traditional styles from across the country and around the world. Find the complete program of musicians on the festival website website.

County Fairs

Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties are all hosting their own county fairs this summer.

Midland County will host its fair from August 13-21 and will feature 4-H competitions, rodeos and a demolition derby.

The Saginaw County Fair will host its fair August 2-6, featuring lawn mower races, tractor draws and a motocross showcase.

Finally, Bay County will host its fair a week before Midland from August 9-13. This fair will feature magicians, exotic animal displays and the Maple Leaf amusement park.

Other Notable Events

In the Tri-Cities area, Midland hosts the Michigan Antique & Collectible Festival, a city staple for half a century. It will take place June 4-5 and September 24-25 at the Midland County Fairgrounds.

Further south, downtown Frankenmuth will celebrate its Bavarian heritage with its annual Bavarian Festival. From June 9 to 12, polka music, games, a parade and more will be part of the celebration.

Back in Midland, the Great Lakes Aby Invitational Golf Tournament will take over the city July 10-16. Over 140 of the world’s best golfers will compete at Midland Country Club.

Finally, Midland will celebrate summer with its annual River Days festival. From August 4-7, downtown will be packed with attendees enjoying food, music and the hushed roar of hot air balloons.

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