What started as a jazz jam by the bay a decade ago has turned into Petoskey’s biggest summer bash.
“Nine years ago, it was suggested to the chamber that Petoskey develop a signature festival,” explains Kathy Bardins, Festival Coordinator. “Festival on the Bay was the result, and began as a jazz festival for the first two years. It developed into a regional/local music festival in the third year, with the goal to provide our visitors as well as our residents with a great threeday event.”
THREE DAYS OF FUN
‘A great three-day event’ is an understatement where Festival on the Bay is concerned.
The event has grown exponentially since its inception, and in the past five years has brought in more than 7,000 attendees, Bardins says.
The wide range of events is likely the reason; in addition to plenty of live music, Festival on the Bay offers sporting and water events and a concession midway.
The entertainment tent, which has an admission fee of $2, has a full schedule, and will be featuring such local favorites as Larry McCray, the Jelly Roll Blues Band, Charlie’s Root Fusion, Brent James and the Contraband, and the always-popular Steel Drum Band from Petoskey High School.
Even though $2 is a steal for all that music, Bardin explains that there’s an even more economical way to take part in all that the festival has to offer.
“We will also be selling Festival on the Bay buttons for $5,” she says, “those will cover both the entertainment tent admission and the kids’ area admission for the weekend.”
CRAFTS TO CANOES
Other popular events at Festival on the Bay include the Jiimaan (Native American) canoe rides, the Wellness Walk, the Sunset Cruise, Vintage Baseball Exhibition Games, the Downtown Treasure Hunt, the Arts and Crafts Fair (which takes place in downtown Petoskey’s Pennsylvania Park, and much more, including a range of events that are new to this year’s festival.
These include the Great Bear River Duck Race fundraiser; the Chalk Festival (purchase a sidewalk square to perform chalk art); Whitewater and Kayak demonstrations; a Sea Kayak tour of Little Traverse Bay; and a Corporate Challenge team event in which participants will compete in “wacky events” to earn a trophy from Camp Daggett and the Adventure Center team.
There’s so much going on over the festival’s duration that it won’t be easy for visitors to get bored.
Larry McCray brings on the Motor City blues.
LOCALS AND VISITORS
“This event serves visitors and residents both,” Bardins says, “we have many, many local residents who look forward to the Festival on the Bay and join in each year. Our hotels are all fully booked during the weekend, too, so we know that we have many visitors who come to town for the festival.”
Carlin Smith, President of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, agrees that the festival appeals to both “year-rounders” and vacationers.
“I think the festival started with great community support ,and we continue to have that local participation, with locals continuing to be the foundation of the festival,” Smith says, “through that local buy-in, it has expanded to be more of a regional draw, and we’re bringing in more and more people for day trips.
“Something that has come more slowly, but is starting to come, is for the festival to draw people from outside of the area for overnights,” he continues, “last year I talked to more people than ever who were visiting from downstate or from other states and Festival on the Bay was part of their itinerary. I hope this market continues to expand.” “Next year will be our 10th anniversary,” Bardins enthuses, “so watch for lots of new and exciting ideas and activities.”
The Petoskey Festival on the Bay takes place August 19-21 throughout downtown Petoskey and the bayside area. Visit www.petoskeyfestival. com for a complete schedule of events.