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.

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.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Things To Do In Port Austin This Weekend

Located at the tip of Michigan's Thumb, Port Austin has been a destination for vacationers and day trippers alike. It's a haven for those who want paddle on the water, hike a trail or peddle around on a bike and for those who want just simply want to kick back and watch the sun shine over Lake Huron all day long.

While things to do in Port Austin are quite plentiful in the summertime, there's some weekends where there's even more happening. This weekend is one of those.

Photo courtesy of
Surrounded by water on three sides, one of Port Austin's biggest diversions is kayaking. For the beginner taking on the activity may seem a little intimidating at first but once they get the hang of it their hooked.  Starting on Friday and running through the weekend the annual Port Austin Kayak Symposium covers many aspects of the fast growing sport.  The symposium is one where the teaching is entirely student driven.  Tell the teachers what you want to learn and they'll will coach you at your own speed in a fashion in which you learn best.  A lot with lesson there will guest speakers, demonstrations, guided paddles, plus bonfires, cookouts and parties. There's still some spots open for this weekend and you can register at Riverside Kayak's website.

Speaking of fresh produce the Port Austin Area Historical Center celebrates the start of strawberry season with treats, activities & music at their Annual Strawberry Social on Saturday from 3 to 6pm.

While in Port Austin this Saturday don't forget to take a stroll around the streets of town. You'll notice many front yards will be filled with music. Many homes in the downtown region have donated their porches for Porch Fest.  Offering a wide variety of music throughout the day, Porch Fest is now in it's second year and

After your adventure is done and people ask you what you did over the weekend you can hold up your hand, point at the top of your thumb and simply say "here."

Find out all the things happening this weekend at our events page.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Free Concerts, Great Theater and Bocce Balll…Who Knew?!

Eastern Michigan summers bring people to the water’s edge to bask in the sunshine, splash in the fresh lake water and to view an incredible horizon line. Who knew you’d also get free concerts, great theater, vintage shows and the best master sand sculpturing competition in the state? The Greater Port Huron Area and its blue shores meander along Lake Huron and the St. Clair River and pack the summer days with fun and excitement for the whole family.

Free waterfront concert series take place in nearly every shoreline community in the Greater Port Huron Area. The concerts usually occur on the same day every week, and the days vary by town. Music genres range from current hits and songwriters to oldies but goodies, jazz, county and more. Bring your own lawn chair or blanket and be ready to enjoy the water view and the moving rhythm.

Unexpectedly, delightful theater has also ripened in the Greater Port Huron Area. Lexington Village Theatre brings rocking musical acts, comedians and fun entertainment to the stage in Lexington. Grab dinner in town then a play or musical at two venues in Marine City: the River Bank Theatre and Snug Theatre. The Citadel Stage conveys an intimate ambiance to Port Huron’s theater scene while the McMorran Place Theater presents a grand stage. The Barn Theater of Port Sanilac is indeed a barn; however, its rousing talent brings brilliant performances to the stage and the crowd to their feet.

Awesome festivals also take place along these eastern shores. Blue Water Sand Fest, occurring July 14-16 in Port Huron is a master sand-sculpting competition and the only one of its kind in Michigan. Master sculptors from around the country compete to create the greatest sculptures from sand and therefore present an incredible display for public viewing. Quick sculpting contests as well as amateur contests are also part of the fantastic festivities that take place.

Harbor Beach’s Maritime Festival is happening July 6-9 and brings a great weekend of entertainment to the shores of Lake Huron. Live music all day and all weekend, tasty eats, friendly competitions like frog jumping, hotdog-eating, bocce ball (reportedly Michigan’s biggest bocce ball tournament) and even an invitational jet ski race take place right on the beach. What says summer-fun more than that?

Antique car shows, vintage boat shows, impressive art shows and even kayaking events will take place this summer in the Greater Port Huron Area amongst an array of other adventures to partake in. For more details on these events and other things to do on the blue eastern shores of Michigan, please visit