Meteorologists and students may have reason to believe summer is over, but is it? The weather still allows for plenty of summer fun, yet the calendar hints at fall. Decide for yourself. Here are our 12 things to do in Michigan in September 2021. Be sure to check with organizers in advance to make sure of any COVID-related changes or requirements.
September 3-26 Open Cockpits at the Air Zoo – Kalamazoo
Weekends, at one of our state’s coolest family attractions, are about to get even more exciting. Postponed from February, this is a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with some beloved aircraft. It’s an amazing chance to “climb behind the stick,” and get a true feel for the pilot’s experience. In addition to actual planes, the Air Zoo is also filled with challenging simulators, inspiring stories, and fun rides that are worth the trip. The Open Cockpit experience is included for free with each weekend admission throughout September.
September Frontier Days – Charlotte
September 10-12 Wine and Harvest Festival – Paw Paw
Have you ever wanted to channel your inner Lucy or Ethel? Well, this is your chance, through its grape stomping competitions. Wine is also flowing with tastings at the state’s oldest wineries and the festival tent. You can even tour a winery to really get some interesting insight. You’ll need to be 21 to enjoy Paw Paw’s favorite nectar, but not to enjoy the entire event. There is plenty of family fun. Start with a 5k run, kayak race, or bicycle tour. Wander between live entertainment, classic cars, and a marketplace. Jump on a carnival ride, take part in a turtle derby, or wave during the parade. Plus, don’t forget to hang out for the fireworks.
September 10-12 Potato Festival – Posen
This annual celebration of the spud has a definitively Polish flavor. That’s appropriate for a community that has a long history of welcoming Polish settlers. Polka music provides the soundtrack of the event, so bring your dancing shoes. Once you work up an appetite, you can indulge in scrumptious potato pancakes. There are also many other hallmarks of summer fun like a 5k run, arts n crafts, a cornhole tournament, a parade, and even a demolition derby. Posen is located between Alpena and Rogers City, not far from the Lake Huron shoreline.
September 11 Michigan Brewer’s Guild U.P. Fall Beer Festival – Marquette
Whether you live in da Yoop, or just love an excuse to visit, this party is worth the trip. Set in scenic Mattson Lower Harbor Park, overlooking Lake Superior, in downtown Marquette, the views are almost as tasty as the brews. The festivities run 1pm-6pm. If you’re an Enthusiast Member, then the gates will open at noon for you to enjoy VIP access. Attendees can choose from hundreds of locally-crafted beers. Tickets are $50 in advance, or $55 for same day purchases, if available. Your ticket includes admission to the festival and 15 tokens for beer samples.
September 11-12 Old Car Festival – Dearborn
One of the most transcendent annual events is returning to Greenfield Village this month. Each year, hundreds of antique vehicles from the 1890s to 1932 rumble in from across the country to this historic refuge. Amidst all the typical trappings of the village like historically inspired street food, music, dancing and activities, you can also see these incredible machines and often meet their proud owners. While Henry Ford’s historic sanctuary always manages to capture a flavor of yesteryear, watching these old cars jaunting about, really enhances the landscape. Plan to stay late Saturday evening for the Gaslight Parade of Cars, live ragtime music, a Dixieland-style parade and the fireworks finale. Space is limited this year, so buy your tickets in advance.
September 16-18 Bright Walls – Jackson
Bright Walls is a public art and mural festival founded and run by volunteer members of the Jackson Young Professionals. In just three years, the festival hosted artists from across the globe and brought 40 murals to the downtown district. This year, you can expect live mural painting, concerts, food trucks, dancing, magic and even a dog-themed event. Welcoming international artists had become a trademark of the event in past years. Unfortunately, COVID-19 travel restrictions has put a damper on that, but not on the fun. Instead, organizers are planning some cool pop-up art installations.
September 16-19 Oktoberfest – Frankenmuth
There are several Oktoberfest celebrations happening throughout the state, but this is the granddaddy of them all. In fact, this one is actually sanctioned by the original in Munich, Germany. You can always get a little Bavarian taste in Frankenmuth, but that’s especially true during this celebration. It features authentic music, dance, food, and of course beer. Be sure to stop into the Frankenmuth Brewery for a wide selection of truly local brews as well.
September 16-October 3 ArtPrize – Grand Rapids
It’s been three long years since the last time Artprize filled the streets of Grand Rapids. The excitement for the wildly popular event’s return is palpable. For 18 days, art is exhibited throughout the city, not just in museums and galleries, bars, empty storefronts and even bridges. ArtPrize awards a total of $450,000 directly to artists, through grants and prizes. This year there is also a big emphasis on buying the creative works to support these artists. Organizers are introducing a new platform that brings together all ArtPrize entries that are for sale into one branded, seamless buying experience. Artists can either set a fixed price or sell their pieces on the platform via auction. The event is free, so why not buy a little art? This is one of the state’s coolest events and a great excuse to wander the streets of Grand Rapids, shopping, dining, and sipping.
September 17-19 Michigan Firemen’s Memorial Festival – Roscommon
There is probably no more honorable fest to attend than this one. It honors those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the protection of others. It’s also a lot of fun for the whole family. New this year is a raffle to replace funds lost from other events canceled due to Covid-19. Plus, firefighters will appreciate the addition of fire training classes and department competitions. This is an excellent opportunity to show your appreciation for fire fighters and to help kids learn more about fire prevention and what these heroes do. All that with good eats, cool rides, fun games, and a memorial parade.
September 18-19 Van Raalte Farm Civil War Muster – Holland
Watch the most troubling time in our nation’s history come to life before your eyes. Walk through military and civilian encampments, including infantry, cavalry, and artillery. Take in a reenactment of The First Battle of Bull Run. Meet and listen to important figures, like Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and George Armstrong Custer. Experience Civil War era music, food, and even a church service. This educational community event is free.
September 25 Friske Harvest Festival – Ellsworth
Before the leaves turn their bright array of colors, here in Michigan, we like to kick autumn off by celebrating the bounty of this year’s harvest. Of course, one of the best places to do that is a farm. You’ll be as hard pressed as cider apples to find a farm that’s more fun than Friske. From 8am-11:30 you can enjoy the pumpkin pancake breakfast. Meanwhile the afternoon features chili, handcrafted pizza, pulled pork, and even pasties. Top things off with fresh cider and donuts. As for atmosphere, there will be live music 11am-3pm alongside mounds of apples and pumpkins. Take a scenic wagon ride. Pick your own apples. Check out the giant apple slingshot. It’s time for some good old fashioned family fun.
Join us on social media for ongoing discussions about Michigan travel destinations. Tweet @BuyMichiganNow to tell us about your favorite places or questions you have. We’d especially love to know which of our 12 things to do in Michigan in September 2021 you get a chance to enjoy. For next month’s events, or to get ideas for your local bucket list, be sure to visit our Michigan Tourism page.