The St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival allows visitors to “catch the luck of the Irish.” There are a one-mile run, 5k and 10k to kick off the festival, and a “Follow the Rainbow” scavenger hunt. A Shamrock Parade, kid’s activities, and the Takeout Pup Crawl are also part of the excitement each year.
Manistee’s Tightline for Troops is held in May each year, a charity fishing tournament for disabled veterans. The tournament was the brainchild of Bob Guenthardt and the first event was held in 2010. The event is free to veterans and priority is given to Purple Heart recipients, Disabled Veterans, and POWs.
Although Ludington is known for its beaches, lighthouses, and state park, many visitors comment about the stunning red, white and blue petunias planted around the downtown area. The petunias, grown by Gustafson’s Greenhouse, are planted by hundreds of volunteers and the Ludington Petunia Parade has become an annual tradition each spring.
Motorcycles of all types travel each May to Baldwin, Michigan, just a 45-minute drive from Hamlin Lake for the Baldwin Blessing of the Bikes event. This popular event began in 1972 with just four motorcycles but has grown to between 5,000 and 10,000 each year. A vendor’s market downtown offers bike-related items and there are tattoo artists on site. The blessing ceremony is held on the third Sunday in May at 1 PM.
Travel just half an hour from Hamlin Lake to Hart and Shelby for the National Asparagus Festival. This event recognizes the most famous crop in the area as only California and Washington produce more of the vegetable than Michigan. The event begins with the Asparagus Queen Pageant and Fund Raiser. The next day an arts and crafts fair as well as an outdoor movie are part of the excitement. A 5k is held on Saturday as the arts and crafts fair continues. There is an asparagus farm tour, the Taste of Asparagus competition, a kid’s area, a parade, and live music. The event ends with a breakfast on Sunday.
Celebrate Independence Day at the Ludington Freedom Festival which begins on July 3rd with children and a pet parade. Children decorate their wagons or bikes and many dresses their family pet in patriotic colors to win prizes. The next day the festival kicks off with a Grand Parade with floats, bands, politicians, and the Scottville Clown Band. At dusk, a firework display lights up the sky with excellent viewing at Steams Beach or Waterfront Park. People arrive early and make an evening of the event with picnic lunches and sparklers. Be sure to check out the Manistee Forest Festival also held during the Independence Day Holiday. There is carnival rides, beach dances, a festival tent as well as an arts and crafts show.
Anglers who enjoy salmon fishing will enjoy the Ludington Offshore Classic Fishing Tournament which provides them with a way to earn money for their catch. Held in July, the tournament begins each day at 6 AM with a shotgun start. All youth boats must be in by noon while other boats must be inside the pier heads by 2 PM. The tournament is open to boats 18’ or longer and equipped with a marine radio. In 2019, the top prize was $10,000 which was taken by Hiatus Charters. In the Big Boys competition, Blue Fairways took home the $17,500 top prize.
Gold Coast Artisan Fair, located in Ludington’s Rotary Park, has vendors from across the state offering handmade items. The items include jewelry, photographs, paintings, and more. The fair is held the second week of August on Saturday and Sunday.
Ludington Suds on the Shore Festival is an annual craft beer tasting festival held at Rotary Park. The event, which is held in mid-August, raises funds for the United Way of Mason County and features vendors from all around Michigan offering more than 100 samples of craft beer, hard cider, and Michigan wine. Live music and food vendors are also part of the event.
Spirit of the Woods Folk Festival began in 1978 and is held on the third Saturday of June each year. It is a day full of music on two stages as well as activities for children, arts and craft vendors as well as great food. There is a dance to close out the festival.
The Hops & Props festival celebrates the rich boating history of the area as well as the growing craft beer industry in Michigan. Over 100 varieties of beer, cider and wine are available. There are a wooden boat parade and live entertainment as part of the event as well.
On weekends in October, the Manistee Ghost Ship is docked off Arthur Street in Manistee. Visitors navigate the steep stairways into the Ghost Ship with spooky beings jumping at them as they move through the ship. The ship is so scary it is not recommended for children under the age of seven.
Kick-off the holiday season with the Ludington Aglow on the Avenue Christmas Parade. Normally held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the event coincides with Small Business Saturday. Most stores in the downtown area are open later that day, allowing visitors to begin their Christmas shopping. You can purchase a Christmas tree in the downtown lot, visit the holiday craft show at the Art Center and then visit with Santa after the parade.
The first weekend in December, the Manistee Victorian Sleighbell Parade & Old Christmas Weekend takes place. The highlight of the parade is the Belgian draft horses that pull a 30-foot Christmas tree down River Street. There is a Festival of Trees, guided tours of Dempsey Mansion a Sno Shake Sho Art Exhibit, and tours of the Ramsdell Theater.
The New Year’s Eve Lighted Ball Drop is part of the “Light up the Lake” celebration on New Year’s Eve. Thousands gather in downtown Ludington to take part in this fun event. Families can be seen shopping in the many downtown stores or having a meal in some of the many restaurants. Sandcastle Children’s Museum holds a balloon drop party for children and there is an entertainment tent with live music. A DJ street dance party is also a fun part of the celebration. The event ends with a firework display after the ball drops.
Fight cabin fever by attending the Pure Ludington Brrrewfest with 20 craft beer breweries offering tastings of their most unique flavors. The event is usually held at the end of January in Ludington’s Rotary Park. Tickets include a commemorative glass and six drink tokens.
WinterFest in Pentwater & Hart held on weekends throughout February include fun events like sledding at Pentwater Village Green, a 5k Run/Walk and 1-mile Fun Run, as well as ice skating, a perch fishing tournament, and more. Enjoy cross-country skiing at the Pentwater Pathways Open while you sip hot chocolate, munch cookies and hang out around the campfire at the trailhead.