Things will be great when you go DOWNTOWN

Cars on display from a recent Muscles on Main event.


Story by Jackie Stark * Photos by Peggy O’Connell

People in Escanaba have been spending their summer vacations outside and downtown, with a plethora of events scheduled all summer long to keep people gathering together.

“If people can’t find something to do in Escanaba, they’re not looking,” said Peggy O’Connell, president of Escanaba Downtown Partners in Business, a volunteer organization of business owners who get together to promote the downtown.

Take, for example, the 60th annual Wally Byam Caravan Club International convention, which converged on Escanaba from July 22 to 29, bringing with it Airstream enthusiasts from across the country.

The club is the world’s largest Airstream club, with 118 individual clubs/units across Canada, the United States, Australia and Europe.

Before the Airstream caravan arrived, and after it leaves, Muscles on Main has been raising funds (and will continue to) for different charities in the area. The second Wednesday of every month through September, the 1200 block of Ludington Street is closed off for the event, which includes bucket raffles, silent auctions, 50/50 raffles and more.

The first Muscles on Main of the summer benefitted the Youth Assistance Program and the second benefitted Tricounty Safe Harbor. The August event will benefit the Delta County Cancer Alliance, and the fourth and final Muscles on Main in September will benefit backpack programs for kids that provide food to kids who might not have food outside of school.

“They’re very well attended,” O’Connell said. “Even during the first one when we had rain, we raised over $850 with it pouring rain outside.”

O’Connell said the events have been successful since they began.

Cars on display from a recent Muscles on Main event.

“Last year on our first year, when we didn’t even close off the street, raised over $4,700 for those organizations,” O’Connell said, adding the events also are meant “to bring people downtown, to make them aware of all the stores and restaurants that are downtown and are available to them and give people an opportunity to get out in the summer and get together.”

Escanaba residents will also Rock the Dock throughout the summer, with live music at the municipal dock in Escanaba. One Rock the Dock event was held already in July, with another scheduled to take place from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, August 5.

“The last one was huge,” said Kim Peterson, director of the City of Escanaba Parks and Recreation department. “I would encourage people to bring their coolers, bring their lawn chairs, bring some beer, bring some wine, sit down and enjoy the band.”

The event includes bounce houses, a rock wall, an art project coordinated by the Bonifas Arts Center, a $20 bean bag tournament sponsored by the Delta County Credit Union, and much more. In August, hits from the ’80s and ’90s will be performed by the Cadillacs.

“We’ve added the Show and Shine Car Show to it because of our Muscle on Main series,” O’Connell added. “It’s a really fun afternoon and evening out.”

And just a few days before Escanaba rocks the dock, they’ll show their appreciation for the men and women in uniform with the second annual Back Our Blue event starting at 5 p.m. on August 2 at the municipal dock.

“It’s a big event where people come together to support law enforcement,” O’Connell said. “We do T-shirts and yard signs that people can put around town; any profits from it go to law enforcement related charities. They did really well with it last year.”

For those looking for other family-friendly events, there will be a kids’ fishing derby on August 12, hosted by the Bay De Noc Great Lakes Sports Fishermen. Sponsored by Wal-Mart, families just need to show up at Ludington Park with their kids and some fishing poles. Prizes and lunch will be offered as part of the derby, which begins at 11 a.m.

The farmers market also has a new home at the new Escanaba Marketplace, located at the 1500 block of Ludington Street. Complete with a kitchen, restrooms, outdoor courtyard and stage, this 1,846-square-foot pavilion is the newest public addition to Escanaba’s downtown.

According to the DDA’s website, the $1.1 million project (funded through a combination of grants and DDA funds) was intended to enhance the farmers market, offer a new venue for the public to enjoy festivals and events downtown, and to offer businesses and private individuals a space to host celebrations, meetings or shows.

Construction on the project, which began last year, was completed in time for a July ribbon cutting.

Last, but not least, are Music Mondays, taking place six times throughout the summer, in which live music is offered for free to the public, with a “Meet the Band” session to follow. In August, bands include ToHuBoHu and Cadillacs.

“There so many events that go on in that park that are free to the public,” said Pasqua Warstler, executive director of the Bonifas Arts Center, which organizes the series, “Music Mondays being one of them.”

For a town of roughly 12,000 people, Escanaba has plenty of public events to keep its residents, and visitors, entertained and occupied throughout the summer.

For more information on the events listed in this article, or for other events and projects, visit the Bonifas Arts Center, Escanaba DDA,  and Escanaba City websites.


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