Your Guide to Michigan’s Odd and Unusual Festivals

We rounded up some of the state’s most niche events, celebrating everything from fishflies to Elvis


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It’s festival season — and not just the musical kind. Michigan is home to a variety of odd and off-the-wall festivals, celebrating anything from cheeseburgers to Elvis Presley, and just about everything in between

This summer, pack up the car and check out some of the state’s niche attractions.


Camp Bacon — May 30-June 3
Zingerman’s Camp Bacon in Ann Arbor is the ultimate celebration of the not-just-for-breakfast meat. The five-day festival will feature tickets to exhibitions available for purchase, including presentations by bacon producers, food experts, and guest speakers; plus, a bacon film festival, bakin’ with bacon classes, a Bacon Ball with James Beard Award-winning chef Rick Bayless, and kids activities. Admission to the Camp Bacon Street Fair at the Sunday Artisan Market in Kerrytown is free. zingermanscampbacon.com

National Asparagus Festival — June 8-10
Oceana County, known as the “Asparagus Capital of the Nation,” celebrates its local agriculture every year with the National Asparagus Festival. Deep-fried asparagus, asparagus soup, even asparagus burritos will be on the menu. Guests can also celebrate the spears with arts and crafts, a 5K, an asparagus farm tour, and the annual Asparagus Queen Pageant. nationalasparagusfestival.org

Fishfly Festival — June 20-24
Established in New Baltimore in 1964, the Bay-Rama Fishfly Festival is certainly one of the more unusual celebrations in the state. Festivities include a beauty pageant, a bubble gum-blowing contest, fireworks, a watermelon-eating competition, stein-holding contests, and a cardboard boat regatta. Quite the celebration for such a pesky critter. bay-rama.com

Wolverine Lumberjack Festival — June 22-24
Every June, the small village of Wolverine (population less than 300), hosts its annual Lumberjack Festival in celebration of the great outdoors. The family-friendly weekend includes lumberjack shows, kayak and canoe races, a horseshoe tournament, live entertainment, a parade, vendors, and more. Flannel shirt optional. wolverinelumberjackfestival.org

Michigan Challenge Balloonfest — June 22-24
This annual festival and competition is anything but hot air. The Michigan Challenge Balloonfest, held in Howell, will feature dozens of hot air balloon pilots competing for national rankings. Outside the competition, the festival will include a night glow event, a juried arts festival, carnival rides, fireworks, skydiving, stunt kite shows, an open-air market, and kid-friendly activities. michiganchallenge.com

Michigan Elvis Fest — July 6-7
Organizers are quick to point out that this is not an Elvis impersonator competition. Instead, it is a two-day-long celebration of “The King” featuring some of the best tribute artists in the U.S. Now in its 19th year, the Ypsilanti festival will also include tribute performances to artists such as The Blues Brothers, James Brown, and Tom Jones, kids activities, a car show, vendors, and a beer tent. The festival also benefits charities, including Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity. mielvisfest.org

National Baby Food Festival — July 18-21
Fremont is the Baby Food Capital of the World and home of Gerber Products Co. Each year, the city celebrates its local legacy with the National Baby Food Festival. Drawing about 50,000 annual visitors, the four-day-celebration will feature a baby crawl competition, kids activities, car shows, arts and crafts, live music, a parade, and, of course, a baby food-eating contest. BYOB (bring your own bib). babyfoodfestival.com

Yale Bologna Festival — July 26-29
The city of Yale, a nearly 2,000-person community, attracts nearly 20,000 visitors every year for its annual Bologna Festival. A tradition since 1989, the lunchmeat-themed celebration will include a “bologna baby” competition, a bologna run, a golf cart parade, outhouse races, fireworks, and the crowning of the King and Queen Bologna. yalechamber.com

Michigan Pirate Festival — Aug. 6-10
Every August, swashbucklers find a home inside the Loutit District Library in Grand Haven for the annual Michigan Pirate Festival. Now in its 12th year, the family-friendly festival features a variety of pirate-themed entertainment like puppet shows, meet-and-greets, storytelling, and costume contests. Hosted by the Brethren of the Great Lakes, the largely kid-centered event is one of the biggest pirate celebrations in Michigan. michiganpiratefestival.com

Cheeseburger in Caseville — Aug. 10-19 
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this summer, Cheeseburger in Caseville is a dream for Jimmy Buffet fans. The 10-day tropical-themed festival is packed with events and activities like kiteboarding clinics, an ice cream-eating contest, sandcastle competitions, face-painting, a classic car show, and all the burgers you can eat. casevillechamber.com

Rubber Ducky Festival — Aug. 12-19
This weeklong celebration held annually in downtown Bellaire celebrates the favorite bath time toy with a variety of activities and events. Saturday will be the biggest day of the week, featuring a race of 2,000 yellow ducks down a quarter-mile stretch of the Intermediate River. The festival will also include carnival rides, a craft fair, sidewalk sales, a parade, and more. bellairechamber.org

Howell Melon Festival — Aug. 17-19
This 58-year-old tradition celebrates the elusive Howell Melon, a cantaloupe hybrid only available in the Livingston County city. This year’s festival will be highlighted by the 41st annual Melon Run, arts and crafts, food and drink vendors, live entertainment, a car show, and carnival rides. Don’t forget to try the exclusive Howell melon ice cream, available only during the festival. howellmelonfestival.com

Great Lakes Surf Festival — August 18
The inaugural Great Lakes Surf Festival will take place this summer at Pere Marquette Beach. The one-day festival invites all Michigan “boardheads,” including surfers and paddle-boarders, for a day of clinics, workshops, and classes. Specific activities will include yoga sessions, a gear swap, kayak races, and an attempt to set a world record by having 1,000 paddle boarders ride in a one-square-mile area. greatlakessurffestival.com

 

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