Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Festivities On The Sand

The Blue Water Area has two big beach parties happening this week. Both of them serve up a unique kind of fun that only the eastern shores of Michigan can offer.

Now in it's 5th year The Blue Water SandFest is Michigan's first and only Master sand sculpting and Advanced Amateur competition/festival. For 3 days the grounds of the Fort Gratiot Light Station will see extraordinary sculptures crafted from sand and water that will dazzle and impress visitors to the site.
Photo by Dale Merrill

Voted one of the 10 Best festivals of its sort by USA Today, the Blue Water Sand Fest is much more than just checking out the impressive works of art.
Photo by Dale Merrill

There will be an eclectric array of live music through out the weekend, a Quick Sand Speed Sculpting Show, hands on sculpting lessons, tours of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and much more.

Photo by Dale Merrill

The Blue Water Sandfest runs July 14th-16th in Port Huron.

Discover all the things to do in the Blue at our events page.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Racing Towards The Beach

Every summer Harbor Beach's Trescott St. has many people on it heading down to the water. One Saturday each July though there's transportation a little more unusual than normal making way to the shore.

Based on the same type of set up one would see at an American Soapbox Derby Association competition, it's time for the annual Harbor Beach Cart Derby on Saturday, July 15th.

This community event, co-sponsored by the City of Harbor Beach and The American Legion, is open to to ages 8 years old an up with four division competing throughout the day.

The first green flag drops at 9 in the morning with the over 18 group and races continue through to around 2 in the afternoon. Come on down, cheer them on and make summertime fun memories for the young and young at heart.

See photos and more from last year's derby at the Harbor Beach and American Legion Cart Derby Facebook page.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Beach Life is the Best Life -- It's Maritime

The Harbor Beach Maritime Festival starts this coming Thursday, July 6th and runs through Sunday. We knew just the guy to get talk to for all the details. Welcome guest blogger Clark Ramsey.

Right on the heels of America’s biggest block party comes the best beach party on Lake Huron. The Harbor Beach Maritime Festival takes place the weekend after the Independence Day festivities in the small town nestled along the shores of Lake Huron in Michigan’s Thumb. It’s four days filled with music, sand, water and sun – combined with some of the friendliest and welcoming people in all of the Great Lakes State.

The Maritime Festival is most known for its open-door policy: concerts on the beach with no cover charge. That’s right, you heard me right, no cover charge! This is not a limited time offer (although operators are standing by) and has been that way since the festival began in 2001. What began as a celebration to commemorate the transfer of ownership of the Harbor Beach Lighthouse from the federal government to the City of Harbor Beach, it has now turned into a city-wide party with some of the biggest talent in the Midwest.

This year’s festival features 13 different music acts on two separate stages. The Hooligans kick off the music Thursday night during the self-proclaimed “largest bocce tournament this side of the Mason Dixon Line.” Whether that is considered Fake News or not, it doesn’t change the fact that there are 64 four-person bocce teams playing on 20 courts just feet from a Great Lake.

Friday pushes the Maritime Festival into full gear with both music stages underway, the weekly Farmer’s Market on the Murphy lawn, a 64-team corn-hole tournament (this is the Midwest after all…) with the party going all the way until Midnight. Imagine yourself on a beautiful sandy beach, enjoying a cold beverage (that you brought yourself and didn’t have to purchase on site), listening to some excellent live music, conversing with friends, admiring the World’s Greatest Man-Made Harbor, the Harbor Beach Lighthouse and suddenly Mother Nature reveals a massive constellation and star galaxy right above your head. ALL OF THIS COULD BE YOURS IF…. you’re in Harbor Beach July 6th through the 9th (the author of this post is a game show host…). It truly is a remarkable sight and every band that has performed at Maritime over the 17-year history says the same thing “this is truly the best place we have ever played.”

If you didn’t have too much fun Friday night, you can join the 300+ runners and walkers for the Harbor Beach Community Hospital 5k. Considered one of the most beautiful courses in the state, it begins beach-side and follows the shoreline on the Harbor View Trail (paved) all the way to the Marina, onto the break-wall and back to the beach for the final push. If a Great Lake can’t motivate you to run faster, nothing will (that’s my excuse at least).

Shortly after, the H&R Block Jet Ski Invitational gets underway on the same course the professionals used to race on; and if you really feel like putting your body through the ringer, sign your team up for the beach volleyball tournament, beginning at 10am. Music begins at 1pm and officially starts the all-day beach party. The beach and water is open to the public and be sure to take advantage of our hidden gem. A small village of inflatables is available for everyone to enjoy (free of charge) and the Harbor Beach Conservation Club display is next door.

At 1pm the fast-paced world that we live in comes to a screeching halt as the world-famous Maritime Festival Frog-Jumping Contest begins. Imagine living in the time of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer while watching contestants get their favorite amphibian to jump the furthest (collective length after three jumps). This event is definitely a crowd favorite. Due to eligibility issues of some of the international competitors, the hot dog eating contest is taking a one-year sabbatical (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it – actually the host has a wedding out of town…).

All the while on Saturday, music continues to fill the light offshore breeze from the stage underneath the tent and the mainstage, featuring our freshly-completed mobile stage. This has been three years in the making and gives Harbor Beach the ability to have a pop-up concert, whenever and wherever we so choose. It is definitely an added benefit to the community.

The music acts continue into the night and keep getting better, leading up to the best fireworks in the state of Michigan…after the 4th of July. But for real, as David Letterman used to say “call the dog, wake the children, call your neighbor, because this is an extravaganza you don’t want to miss!” A spectacular spectacle of American Patriotism lights up the summer sky over the harbor just after dusk (typically 10:15pm). Any spot from the beach or water is a great way to view the 25-minute fireworks show. Immediately after the last shell, Brett Mitchell and the Giant Ghost retakes the stage and rocks out until the cows come home (actually much later than that).

Sunday brings a wrap to the festival with an ecumenical service in the morning, a fish fry, car show, dueling pianos and the community big money cash raffle. It truly takes an army to make this festival happen and we are extremely grateful for those who make it a reality. It is an expensive venture, but is made possible by very generous businesses and sponsors so that the Maritime Festival can remain a free and fun event for all to enjoy.

So tell your friends, clear your calendar and turn your iPhones to “Do Not Disturb” because everything is happening down at the beach, in Harbor Beach.

For more information and to register for events, go to

Harbor Beach: Life’s at ease, with an offshore breeze!

Clark Ramsey is a former Chairman of the Harbor Beach Maritime Festival and remains on the festival committee presently. He was born and raised in Harbor Beach and chose to make it his home after graduating from Michigan State University in 2011. Clark is the vice-chair of the Harbor Beach Parks & Recreation Commission, sits on the Harbor Beach Planning Commission and hosts various events throughout the area – most notably, The Harbor Beach Gameshow Series which takes place every Mother’s Day weekend at the Harbor Beach Community Theatre. It is his goal in life to spread the gospel of the great things Harbor Beach has to offer, and bring Harbor Beach up in conversation as much as possible (eight times in this profile alone). His day job is the Director of Marketing at Scheurer Hospital, while moonlighting at his own production company, Clark Ramsey Productions; sports broadcasting with The WLEW Sports Network, and is the founder of a non-existent business, The Clark Ramsey Manor. He enjoys boating, porch-sitting, tennis, Spartan Athletics, reading books, candle-lit dinners, long walks on the beach and complaining about the weather.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Red, White and Blue Water Area: Independence Day Weekend Celebrations

The 4th of July celebrations will be plentiful in the upcoming week. Picnics and parties are on many agendas to celebrate the United States independence from the British Empire. Two of the main things that people look forward to during the holiday are the fireworks displays and parades. Many of Blue Water Area communities will be having both over the weekend.

Port Sanilac kicks off celebrating Friday, June 30th, with a lighted boat parade that starts at the harbor and winds along the lakeshore at dusk. Saturday it's time for their annual Independence Day at noon. That evening you can enjoy fabulous explosion of light, color and sound over Lake Huron at their fireworks display.

Friday, June 30th also kicks off the 79th Annual Algonac Lions Club Pickerel Festival. Along with the fishing tournamet there will be all kinds of family such as fun as a carnival midway, daily entertainment, food, arts & crafts and more. On Sunday, June 2nd they're having the antique boat parade along the waterfront at 4pm and fireworks at dusk.

On Tuesday, July 4th itself, festivities are in full swing too. Port Austin starts off with floats and pageantry with a parade at 1pm. At dusk, families and friends will gather at Bird Creek County Park, Veterans Waterfront Park, Port Austin State Harbor and along the shoreline to watch the fireworks.

St. Clair invites you to grab and blanket or lawn chair and come sit down along their boardwalk on the evening of the 4th around dusk. That's when their fireworks happen over the river there.

Find out more about these and the many other summer events happening around the Greater Port Huron Area at our events page.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Urchins Of The Thumb: Mountain Babies Play Port Austin's Porch Fest This Saturday

This weekend, people on porches across the village of Port Austin will extend more than just their always friendly waves and warm greetings.

Now in its second year, the Porch Fest welcomes musicians from all around the region to come and play songs in the porches, yards and gazebos of Port Austin residents. Featuring 30 different acts this year, the casual gathering gives visitors a chance to hear a wide variety of music, take a stroll, maybe grab a bite to eat and check out the beauty that the tip of Michigan's Thumb has to offer.

One of the groups returning to play the festival this year is Mountain Babies. Though the band is Port Huron based these days, their shepherd Dave Peters has a lot of ties to Port Austin. We had a little chat with him about what area means to him.

The region has had an lasting effect on Dave and served a lot of the inspiration and subjects on their 2015 album The Cottage, The Creek & The Spirit.

That thread of exaltation still runs through their music on their latest release Existence Of Resistance. Sometimes, it's obvious with song titles such as "Pine Cones & Grindstones" but also is in mood in general as songs such as the arcadian feel of songs such as "The Temple."

It's like one can practically see the stars twinkle in the clear night sky and smell the smoke of a bonfire while the song plays.

Port Austin's Porch Fest runs from 1 to 5 pm this Saturday, June 23rd. Mountain Babies play at 4 pm at 111 W. Spring St. To find out more and to see a full schedule of all the acts playing check out Porch Fest's website.