Maritime Festivals Celebrating Escanaba’s History Set

With mile-long parks and celebrated views of the lake, a love of year-round fishing, and historic and present-day interests in Great Lakes shipping, residents of Delta County cherish a way of life built around the Lakes. It seems only natural, then, that a maritime festival celebrating this important attribute would come to life on local shores.

Officials from a few local organizations have come together to organize just that—the Bays de Noc Maritime Festival is scheduled to make its debut on Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 in Ludington Park, Escanaba. Organizers are billing this as the first festival in a three-year event, culminating with a huge celebration in 2013 to coincide with Escanaba’s sesquicentennial celebration, Esky 150 and the 200 year anniversary of Admiral Perry’s successful campaign.

The Municipal Dock will feature exciting rescue demonstrations from the US Coast Guard, with their cutter, helicopter and rescue boats demonstrating a rescue operation. The Coast Guard will bring in their helicopter from Traverse City and is looking into the possibility of another rescue boat from Sturgeon Bay, in addition to the Escanaba rescue boat. The organization will put on just one can’t-miss show, as they will still be on active rescue duty in the event of an emergency.

In the yacht harbor, the Coast Guard will take part in vessel exams and safety programs, with possible other displays and activities related to the Coast Guard. Information on joining the Auxiliary will also be available, with current members present to meet and discuss the role and activities of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

The Delta County Historical Society will have the Lighthouse open free of charge for the day, with the surf rescue boat out for viewing. The committee is working on creating a historical display tent, that will feature pictures and artifacts from local and great lakes maritime collections.

The City Marina will feature two tall ships to be moored at the dock. The Inland Seas, will have a special sail for the festival, and then be open to the public in the afternoon and evening for tours. A second tall ship, the schooner Madeline, recognized as Michigan’s official state schooner, will be available for tours all day.

Other events scheduled for the festival include a lamprey display and education from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a possible Venetian parade, a maritime-themed concert by the Escanaba City Band during their regular Wednesday night show, with the possibility open for an appearance during the day’s festivities, as well. Music will be onstage throughout the day at the Municipal dock and food vendors will also be available.

Those planning the event hope to bring to life the history and importance of maritime issues to current residents of Delta County. While Escanaba used to boast four 100-ft. ore docks, because of the completion of the Soo Locks and other economic factors, the shipping industry has shrunk. Because of the recent interest in local shipbuilding contractors, Escanaba’s future place in Great Lakes Industry is waiting to be written. Educating residents on the past can help ignite passion and ideas for the future.

Mollie Larsen, one of the event organizers, said, “This event is a lucky confluence of people coming together to create an amazing celebration. Co-Chairs Maria Maniaci and Anita Carlson bring their personal interest and love of tall ships and the Coast Guard together and the end result is one incredible event.” Organizers are expecting that this festival will bring many visitors to our downtown and Ludington Park.

For more information on this year’s festival, or to donate time and energy to the cause, please contact Mollie Larsen of the Bonifas Arts Center at 906-786-3833 or by email at

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