Fireworks as viewed from Palmer Park in St. Clair. Photo by Grace Grogan
As we approach the 4th of July weekend many towns across the United States will be having fireworks, festivals, parades, and other ways of celebrating our Nation’s freedom. The Blue Water Area is no exception. What I find a bit disappointing is that so many cities hold their fireworks on days other than the 4th of July, and I am pleased that where I live, St. Clair, Michigan, fireworks are still held on the 4th of July over the St. Clair River each and every year. What is even more wonderful about this area is that all summer the Blue Water Area is filled with a variety of things to do all summer.
Soldiers take a break during the Feast of the St. Clair in Port Huron. Photo by Grace Grogan
The summer kick-off is the Feast of the St. Clair, held every Memorial Weekend in Port Huron. This festival has been held for thirty-four years and is a living re-enactment of 18th century life. During the event Pine Grove Park is home over 100 colonial star camps and has more than 600 re-enactors who participate. Attendees can visit four different periods of Blue Water history, Native Americans, French explorers, British traders and American Revolutionaries. Battles are re-enacted and period life is demonstrated, including cooking, crafts, and children’s games. The re-enactors actually camp in the park during the event, cooking their own food over an open campfire, sleeping in authentically styled tents and dressing in period costume.
The new River Walk in Port Huron located on Desmond Landing. Photo by Grace Grogan
After the Feast of the St. Clair, you are never without something to do in the Blue Water Area. Be a Tourist in Your Own Town lets both locals and tourists visit a wide variety of museums, the lighthouse, take a cruise on the Huron Lady II, and participate in numerous other activities, with transportation between locations provided by the Blue Water Trolley. Whether riding during the event or at any other time, you can sit back and for your ten cent fare enjoy a one-hour tour of various attractions and historic sites in Port Huron. Well worth the investment!
The BW Sandfest is a professional sand sculpture event conducted by The Sand Lovers and is held on the grounds of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse in Port Huron. Photo by Grace Grogan.
It doesn’t matter when in the summer you visit, there will always be something to do. Art Fairs are held a various times in Lexington, Port Huron, Marysville, St. Clair, New Baltimore and Algonac. Fishing is a popular sport and you will find things such as the Salmon Steaks in St. Clair or the Pickerel Tournament and Festival in Algonac.
If you are into cars or antique boats you will not be disappointed. Many car shows and cruise nights are held including the Port Huron Cruise Night and Car Show, The St. Clair Classic Car Show, Antique Boat Show in St. Clair, and the Antique Boat Parade in Algonac. Marysville hosts two car shows back-to-back with Rumble in the Park featuring hot rods, custom and muscle cars followed by The Past and its Wheels featuring cars built before 1959, including the Wills Sainte Claire cars that were built between 1921 to 1926 in the Marysville Factory. The Wills Sainte Claire Museum is open the second and fourth Sundays of the month August through September and is one of many area museums. Other local museums include the Carnegie Center, Thomas Edison Depot, Huron Light Ship, Bramble, and many small local museums in the various towns along the waterfront including New Baltimore and St. Clair.
Port Huron Float Down and Bramble Museum. Photo by Grace Grogan
Don’t leave yet because we have more fun activities for you to attend. The Bay Rama Fish Fly Festival is held every year in New Baltimore is now in its 50th year and is the only Fishfly Festival in the world. It includes a carnival midway, live music, and various family activities such as pie eating contests and various games. Maritime Days in Marine City is an annual three-day event that includes music, food, fun and a parade. A new event, now in its second year is the Blue Water Sand Fest, voted by USA Today as one of the top 10 in 2013, its first year here in the Blue Water area. The event is held on the grounds of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and features professional, advanced amateur and amateur sand sculptures.
Offshore Racing on the St. Clair River between Michigan and Canada. Photo by Grace Grogan
Events surrounding the water abound. In St. Clair you won’t want to mist River Fest and Offshore Classic Racing. The event features a carnival, spectators can visit dry docks, wet docks, and of course watch the offshore powerboat races on the beautiful St. Clair River.
Port Huron also hosts an Offshore Powerboat Race event and the famous Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Sailboat Race. This sailboat race is a popular event in Port Huron, featuring a carnival midway and various activities downtown and along the waterfront. Walk along the Black River to view the boats that have arrived to participate in the race, live manikins, food and fun abound. Thursday is family night, and Friday is boat night, a huge celebration the night before the race. Saturday morning line up along the Black River to view the boats as they parade out of the river and onto Lake Huron to begin the race. An annual event on the water that draws thousands of participants and spectators is a free event, the Port Huron Float Down. Participants climb into inner tubes, rafts and any other type of floating device at Lighthouse Beach just north of the Blue Water Bridges and then float down to Chrysler Beach in Marysville. A fun event for all whether floating or watching.
Boat Night in Port Huron takes place the Friday before the Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Race. Photo by Grace Grogan
As the summer winds down into fall, an event you won’t want to miss is Whistles on the Water in St. Clair. This event features antique steam whistles from lake freighters and passenger ships and is one of the largest gatherings of large steam whistles in the world. The whistles are attached to one of the largest portable steam boilers on earth specifically designed to blow whistles using a fire-tube boiler that generates steam pressure to blow the whistles. Free ear plugs are provided to visitors as when the whistles blow it is really loud! A fun activity for children is a set-up on the waterfront of smaller whistles where the children can pull the cord to sound off one of several whistles. The event is combined with “Chalk the Walk” which allows both adults and children the opportunity to color the walks of the St. Clair Mall with drawings using sidewalk chalk.
Whistles on the Water is held in St. Clair, Michigan. Photo by Grace Grogan
This is just a brief overview of various activities in the area and you may want to check Discover the Blue travel guide to get a more complete lineup of everything there is to do in the beautiful Blue Water area. You won’t want to miss taking a walk along the boardwalk in St. Clair, the longest freshwater boardwalk in the world. Stop by Desmond Landing in Port Huron to visit the Boat Nerd and stroll the new River Walk you will find there, walk the pier in Lexington, stroll under the Blue Water Bridge along the Thomas Edison Parkway in Port Huron, or walk the boardwalks in Marine City, New Baltimore and Algonac.
I love living in the Blue Water area, which to me is small town living with all the advantages of a tourist town. It is a Melting Pot of things to do, with something for everyone. If you’ve never visited the Blue Water area, put it on your next vacation itinerary, you won’t be disappointed!
Blue Water Trolley – It only costs a dime to ride! Photo by Grace Grogan
The beautiful St. Clair River as viewed from Palmer Park in St. Clair, Michigan
The Thomas Edison Depot Museum sits under the Blue Water Bridges on the Thomas Edison Parkway in Port Huron. Photo by Grace Grogan