Festivals and Competitions
Festivals and competitions are all about enjoying life and celebrating the place we live. There’s something for everyone when you visit Cheboygan. So check the events calendar and keep an eye out for the events you can’t afford to miss!
The is The Great Up North and Cheboygan is proud to be right at the heart of it. Whether you’re from the area or visiting for the week or just a weekend, we’re ready to roll out the welcome mat and show you around.
Our Waterways Festival the second weekend of July is known for bringing together visitors and local folks to one of the most unusual and exciting weekends of competitions and summer entertainment anywhere in Northern Michigan.
Sponsored by the Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce, the Waterways Festival (formerly Riverfest) has a long tradition in Cheboygan. It’s a true celebration of our river town life. It features a parade, kid’s day, the World Championship Wanigan Race, river clean up, wooden boat show, kayak races, concerts, great food, tournaments, an arts festival, and all kinds of summertime fun… right in the heart of downtown Cheboygan.
The World Championship Wanigan Race
The annual World Championship Wanigan Race is really something special and it takes place on Saturday of the festival. Back in the great days when Cheboygan was the logging capital of the north in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, or so the story goes, lumbermen would strap logs together and make a cooking raft to gather on and eat their hot meals. This Cheboygan Jaycees sponsored race keeps the tradition alive as teams of five (four paddlers and a cook) from all over compete with their versions of a “Wanigan.”
From the Highway 33 Bridge down the Cheboygan River to the Lincoln Street Bridge, the teams paddle for glory while cooking chili and keeping it at a boil!
Interested in joining the fun? Visit the Cheboygan Jaycees official website or contact the Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce and we’ll provide the details, the sign up forms, and raft specifications. This year’s Waterways Festival and World Championship Wanigan Race happens on the second weekend of July. Hope to see you there!
Downtown Music Festival
The Downtown Cheboygan Music Festival is a FREE admission, two-day event held the last Friday and Saturday of July which celebrates all types of music in the heart of Downtown Cheboygan! Whether you are dining in a local eatery, shopping in a retail store, or taking in the flavors of the festival, it’s always fun to come together and spend some time in the downtown district!
Waterways Ice Festival
The annual Waterways Ice Festival takes place during President’s Day Weekend on the snowy shoreline and ice of Mullett Lake. The family fun event brings together folks from all over for wintertime events like bonfires, lighted ice games, poker run, ice fishing tournament, dog sled demos, ice diving, sleigh rides, door prizes, and of course a beer tent and entertainment!
Hosted by the Mullett Lake Marina, the Waterways Ice Festival will keep you warm and pumped up with outdoor winter fun for the whole family. For more details and to register for the events, go to the festival website and take a look around at www.waterwaysicefestival.com
Cheboygan Salmon tournament
On August 3-4, 2012, the 14th Annual Cheboygan Salmon Tournament gets underway once again. Sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Eagles #1282 and the Cheboygan Sportsfishing Association, this event is one of the highlights of the fishing season in Northern Michigan.
With thousands of dollars in prize money at stake, anglers compete in a Boat Division for Salmon and there’s additional competitions for Largest Salmon, Largest Steelhead, Largest Lake Trout, Largest Brown Trout.
It’s quite a sight to see as sometimes up to 100 boats take to the big waters of The Straits of Mackinac and Lake Huron from the Cheboygan harbor, their aim to claim fishing glory and the prize money that comes with it.
There’s live entertainment and dinner on Saturday night and a fishing celebration atmosphere all weekend long!
Contact the Cheboygan Chamber of Commerce for registration details or call Steve at 213-818-1235 or Pete at 231-627-5143 or go to the tournament website at www.cheboygansalmontournament.org
And make Cheboygan your fishing destination all season long!
Cheboygan County Fair
The Cheboygan County Fair in early August each year brings the excitement of the carnival midway to Cheboygan. It also headlines great Grandstand events like the Motocross and Quad Races, Antique Tractor, Truck, and Heavyweight Horse Pulls, Bump and Run Derby Race, Tough Truck competition, 4×4 Truck Mud Run, and of course a signature concert night.
The fair also features an Open Horse Show, Queens Pageant, Kids Day, the Petting Zoo, and the all important Regional Livestock Auction on the last day of the fair! Gates are open from 8 in the morning until 11 at night with admission free until noon. So if you are looking for a great time at a great fair at an affordable price, come to Cheboygan for the Cheboygan County Fair!
Visit the fair website at www.cheboyganfair.com The site received 3rd place out of 35 at the recent state fair convention in the category of “Best Website.”
The Rusty Stud 250 Snowmobile Race
An exciting stop on the Great Lakes Antique Snowmobile Series, The Rusty Stud takes place every January and really kicks off the after New Year’s fun in the Cheboygan area. The racing series is open to antique sleds in races that feature single cylinder Lemans style enduro racing from 100 to 250 miles. The circuit includes the towns of Cedarville, Drummond Island, Newberry, Sault Ste. Marie, and of course The Rusty Stud 250 in Cheboygan.
So mark your calendar for Cheboygan in early January if you like snowmobile racing! For more information, go to the website for the Great Lakes Antique Snowmobile Series at www.greatlakesseries.com
Don’t miss The Rusty Stud!
Top O’ Michigan Marathon Power Boat Race
For 63 years, boating enthusiasts from around Michigan, the country, and even from South America (a hotbed of power boat racing, actually) have been racing through Michigan’s Inland Waterway during the Top O’ Michigan Outboard Marathon Boat Races. It’s the longest running marathon in the nation. They begin at noon from DeVoe Beach in Indian River. The Top O’ Michigan Boat Races require boaters to maneuver around tight curves and through rough-waved waters. They must also handle natural obstacles such as sandbars and fallen trees in the waters.
Saturday’s course is 45 miles and starts at DeVoe Beach in Indian River, goes a half mile to a turn buoy on Burt Lake, returns to the mouth of the Indian River, and then runs the entire length of Indian River into Mullett Lake to a check point in front of Breaker’s Bar in Topinabee. The course continues along the west shore of Mullet Lake and up the full length of the Cheboygan River to a turnaround in the city of Cheboygan. The riverbanks are crowded with fans in Cheboygan on this day, one of the biggest in northern powerboat racing.
The course on Sunday features the southern stretches of the Inland Waterway, so when you stay in Cheboygan for the races you’ll have a whole weekend of powerboat action!
Drivers must register their boats through the American Power Boat Association. Go to the APBA website for more details and to register at www.apba.org and go to the race website at www.tomorc.com See you at the races!