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12 Things to Do in July in Michigan

by Lisa Diggs

Summer has finally arrived, as has the heat. No complaints, though, it’s just good to see the sun. It also means boats, beaches, and loads of events. Here are just a dozen examples to explore around the state this month.

July 9-13 Alpenfest – Gaylord
This Alpine-inspired celebration honors the city's heritage and partnership with sister city, Pontresina, Switzerland. Come out on Tuesday evening for the Burning of the Boogg. Put your troubles on paper, slip them inside the Boogg and watch them go up in smoke! Enter the costume contest on Wednesday morning, or just enjoy the walking parade. This 5-day event is filled with good eats and good times including the Alpenfest 10k, kid's games, a ladies ankle contest, men’s knee competition, juggling classes, a pancake breakfast, a diaper derby, an ugly dog competition, and even Die Groeste Kaffepause, otherwise known as the world's largest coffee break.

July 12-13 Saline Celtic Festival – Saline
If watching Outlander makes you long to go back in time and visit the Scottish Highlands, fear not, an opportunity for a taste is on the horizon. Pop into Saline and you can witness live jousting and fencing, along with sheaf-tossing, log-lifting, and stone-throwing feats of strength. Celtic music, pipes and drums, and traditional dance are prevalent along with the chance to buy Celtic-inspired merchandise. Take the kiddies to Wee Folks Island where they can participate in arts and crafts, games, story time with a Scottish Princess, visit a mermaid, and even cool off in the river.

July 14 Detroit Kite Festival – Detroit
Belle Isle is undoubtedly one of the City of Detroit’s most beloved gems. Any chance to while away a day there is already a treat, but it may be at its most colorful on this one Sunday of the year. From 10am-5pm kite lovers are invited to gather in the cricket field next to the casino and let their rainbows of cloth take flight. The event is free and includes on-site kite-making by the Detroit Institute of Arts, kids’ activities, professional kite flyers, and music from DJ Cove Love. Local Food Vendors will include Motor City Franks, Mitey Nice, Dos Los Tacos, Carolyn's, Sewa's Treats, Simply Spanish, Paradise Natural Foods, and Lucky's Mobile Food Emporium. Remember, a recreation passport is now required to drive onto this State Park.

July 17-20 National Baby Food Festival – Fremont
Baby food may not have actually been invented in Fremont, Michigan, but it certainly was perfected there. So why not throw a festival to celebrate that? Freemont is home to the iconic Gerber brand. With an appropriate emphasis on the wee ones, this event includes some wacky competitions like frog-jumping, turtle-racing, bubble gum-blowing, bed races, a baby crawl, and of course baby food-eating. There’s also a petting zoo, live entertainment, arts and crafts, farm and flea market, pinball tournament, dunk tank, midway, sidewalk sales, car show, and the Grand Parade at 10:30am on Saturday.

July 18-21 Ann Arbor Art Fair – Ann Arbor
No list of July events would be complete without this legendary artists’ spectacle. If you love art in all its many forms, then this is the place to be. Each year, more than a half million visitors come from around the state and the nation to enjoy this show which is comprised of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, South University Art Fair, and the State Street Area Art Fair. It consistently ranks as one of the top art events in the nation, and is worth a visit for the people-watching alone. 

July 18-21 Hot Air Jubilee – Jackson
What is more delightful than spontaneously spotting a dirigible wafting through the air on its own? A sky filled with the colorful crafts, of course. Stop by Ella Sharp Park during Jackson’s Hot Air Jubilee, and you’ll get that chance. Weather permitting, the balloons will launch on Friday morning and evening, Saturday morning and evening and again on Sunday morning. While balloon rides are not an option, helicopter rides will be available on Friday afternoon, on a first come first served basis. The jubilee is free to attend, with a $5 parking fee to be inside the park, proceeds of which help support the jubilee.

July 18-21 Tall Ship Celebration – Bay City
The tall ships are coming. The tall ships are coming! After what feels like a long hiatus, the tall ships are finally sailing back to Bay City. They are expected to arrive in Saginaw Bay between 2pm-4pm on Thursday, July 18, and be welcomed by a street party starting at 5pm. Tours and a host of other activities begin at 10am on Friday. Admission to the Tall Ship Celebration requires a $10 daily ticket. Souvenir Passports are also required if you want to tour the boats. Each passport is $8 and good for the entire weekend.

July 19-21 Faster Horses Music Festival – Brooklyn
Michigan International Speedway comes alive in July with the roar of fans instead of motors. Faster Horses is one of America’s premier country music festivals with three full days of some of the biggest names in the business. This year’s headliners include Maren Morris, Keith Urban, Tyler Rich, Danielle Bradbury, Cassadee Pope, Toby Keith, and Zac Brown Band. Come for the day or camp for the weekend. If you love country music, this is our state’s don’t miss event.

July 20 Port Huron to Mackinac Yacht Race – Port Huron
A tradition that dates back to 1925, Bayview’s Port Huron to Mac race is the premier sailboat competition in the state, and one of the longest freshwater races in the world. The start of which, is a great excuse for summer fun. Get up early, grab a chair, and settle in to watch the yachts and a bevy of other boats, parade out of the harbor. Then enjoy some time exploring downtown Port Huron and/or a local beach.

July 23-28 Ausable River Canoe Marathon – Grayling
This impressive event is known to many as a rabaska race. A rabaska was once a large canoe made of bark that the Algonquin people used to navigate waterways. Today these canoes are sturdier, faster, and ideal for racing. Paddlers will take to the river for a variety of battles, the most prestigious of which is the marathon. The AuSable River Canoe Marathon is considered to be North America’s toughest, richest non-stop canoe race, and part of the sport’s “Triple Crown.” It goes from Grayling to Oscoda on the famed AuSable River. Spectators are welcome and appreciated as they keep the paddlers going throughout the night. In some cases, it’s a step back in time to the days when Algonquin rabaskas explored our rivers, as fans have to seek out access to the river in total darkness, hoping to spot their favorite crews.

July 26-27 Michigan Summer Beer Festival – Ypsilanti
Craft beers are popping up at more and more events around the state each year, but if you’re looking for the ultimate Michigan brew-tasting experience, you can’t beat a trip to Ypsi for this party. Approximately 150 Michigan breweries will be sampling over 1,000 different craft beers along the banks of the Huron River at Riverside Park in historic Depot Town. Purchasing tickets in advance is highly recommended as the event tends to sell out. 15 sampling tokens are included in the price of a ticket, each good for a 3-oz sample. Additional tokens are for sale at the event for just 50 cents. Take some time to explore the eateries and shops of Depot Town and drop by the Michigan Firehouse Museum or National Hudson Car Museum while in the area.

July 27-28 Art on the Rocks – Marquette
There is no bad time to visit beautiful Marquette, yet the last weekend in July is particularly enjoyable. Thousands will gather is in Mattsen Lower Harbor Park to peruse incredible art amidst serene surroundings. Considered by many to be one of the finest art shows in the country, this event is a feast for the senses. It is nestled in a picturesque setting between Marquette’s historic downtown and the Cinder Pond Marina on beautiful Lake Superior. You know summer has surely reached da Yoop when it’s time for Art on the Rocks.


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