March 3, 2024

Celebrating Mother Earth

Earth Day events across the North include education, music, and more
By Ross Boissoneau | April 15, 2023

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans rallied and railed against the pollution and environmental impacts of indiscriminate industrial development. That first Earth Day spawned an environmental movement that continues to this day.

The one-day event has grown in stature and in length, with many organizations now supporting Earth Week. It’s become a global celebration, and that certainly includes northern Michigan. Here are eight ways you can celebrate Mother Earth this weekend.

1. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

This year, Earth Day kicks off National Park Week, which commemorates the beauty, culture, and wildlife of our country’s 400+ national parks. Sleeping Bear Dunes is waiving its entrance fee on April 22, offering visitors a low-cost and beautiful way to experience springtime in Michigan along the miles of trails and panoramic views of the dunes and Lake Michigan.

This year’s National Park Week theme is “Your Park Story,” and you can share photos and good times on social media using hashtags #EarthDay and #NationalParkWeek.

2. Cadillac

For many years, the Cadillac community has hosted a celebration of Earth Week, and this year is no different. Chad Phillips serves as the de facto chair of the Cadillac Earth Day Committee, an informal group of about a dozen environmentally-conscious community members. He says his group came together after a local gardening group that had overseen the festivities dissolved.

“Our primary focus is education. Since our group has run it, we have given every kid in attendance a tree to plant,” Phillips says. “We invite community organizations to take part and have booths where folks can learn about the importance of clean water, invasive species, renewable energy, growing plants, and much more.”

Though the official Earth Day is Saturday, April 22, the Cadillac event will take place Sunday, April 23, at the Cadillac Commons. There will be some two dozen community groups on hand, as well as music and activities. Phillips says he expects turnout to return to pre-pandemic levels: As long as the weather cooperates, he anticipates around 250 people.

3. Manistee

The Great Lakes Environmental Festival will take place April 21-23 at various locations around town. The official vision of the organization is to “improve the environment we all share,” and the many activities bear that out.

The festival will offer a film competition, presentations, demonstrations, exhibits, even a 5K race. Speakers will include Allan O’Shea from CBS Solar Service, Jim MacInnes of Crystal Mountain, AFFEW Friends of the Environment President Julia Chambers, a representative from the Michigan Tech Great Lakes Water Research Center, and Paul Bilinski, PhD, Professor of Biology at West Shore Community College. An environmental expo will take place April 22 at the Waggoner Center, 260 Saint Marys S Parkway, from 10am-3pm. For a complete rundown on all the action, go to

But wait, there’s more: Presented by Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the environmental documentary 2040 will have a free showing at The Vogue Theatre in Manistee on Tuesday, April 25, with doors opening at 6pm. Speakers include Jamie Vaughan (Trout Unlimited), Nick Sanchez (Old-Growth Forest Network), Maddy Baroli (Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science), and Bernie Ware (retired farmer). Gene Lagerquist (Spirit of the Woods) will be moderating.

4. Grass River Natural Area

The 1,492-acre nature preserve offers various events, activities, and educational opportunities throughout the year, with seven miles of trails, including 1.5 miles of boardwalk floating above northern fen and cedar wetlands. Its two-hour Earth Day Bird Walk on Saturday will take place at 9am. Participants will learn how to identify birds by sight and sound and how to log observations online using the eBird website or app. Interested? You’ll need to pre-register by contacting the administrative office at (231) 533-8314. Cost is $5, and you’ll need binoculars.

To find out more about the many ongoing activities during Earth Week, go to

5. Traverse City

The Grand Traverse County Resource Recovery (RecycleSmart) Department will be hosting an Earth Celebration Event at the Civic Center in Traverse City on Saturday, April 22, from 11am-3pm. It will feature music with Seth Bernard and Chris Good, 12 to 2pm; an opportunity to meet Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl; a scavenger hunt with prize drawings; make-and-take eco-crafts; a balance bike library and helmet and bike fitting; a butterfly exhibit; an interactive display of mattress recycling; free paper shredding; and on exhibit will be a Ford Lightning all-electric truck.

6. Cheboygan

The Cheboygan Area Public Library will host a free expo with mini-adventures on Saturday. Hands-on projects will include building bird houses, mason bee houses, nature weaving, and seed planting. Attendees will investigate how to make their own compost as well as learn about amphibians, turtles, lamprey, and sturgeon.

Did we mention magic? Well yes, of course there’s magic. At 10:30am and again at noon, the Magic of Recycling Show will thrill while providing valuable tips. Plus “Trees,” a story and project, will take place upstairs in the children’s room. All the activities are free and open to the public.

Are we done? Not yet! An e-waste collection will also take place Saturday on the west side of the former West Elementary School. It’s a place to dispose of computers, small home appliances—almost anything with a cord, including accessories or the cords and cables themselves. The EPA estimates that about 60 percent of discarded electronics end up in the trash, and hazardous chemicals in them could leach out of landfills into the groundwater and streams. And the disposal fee? It’s all free, except a small charge for CRT TVs. Visit for a complete listing of e-waste accepted.

7. Petoskey

The Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council is inviting people to participate in Earth Day BINGO. It kicked off April 1 and is running through Earth Day, April 22. Download your Earth Day BINGO card at, stop in at the Watershed Council office in Petoskey, or call (231) 489-7290 to request a card by mail.

“Activities featured on the Earth Day BINGO card include a variety of suggestions for all ages to better care for our water, land, and air,” says Watershed Council Water Resources and Communications Specialist Calla Beers. “From simple steps like unplugging electronics not in use and using reusable cloth napkins and beverage containers to shopping locally, everyone can chip in and help Michigan lead the way to a cleaner, healthier planet.”

It’s free to participate, and each Earth Day BINGO card has more than 20 different activities to try. Once you complete five activities in a row (across, down, or diagonally), you can return your card to the Watershed Council to receive a special “Make Every Day Earth Day!” sticker and be entered into a drawing to win one of three prize packages.

8. Leelanau County

From April 17 through April 23, the Leelanau Conservancy is promoting “finding your Leelanau adventure” in a myriad of ways. The week’s slate of events includes a Palmer Woods trail crew kickoff Tuesday, April 18, at 5pm; a habitat restoration workbee on Thursday, April 20; a hike at the protected winery 45 North on Friday, April 21; and a concert with Jack Pine at Tandem Ciders Sunday, April 23, at 3pm.

Learn more and sign up at



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