• How Sweet It Is – Michigan Festivals and Events Weave Many Partners Into Hometown Traditions

    POSTED June 4, 2018

Warm-weather time becomes the season of festival queens in Michigan. It’s part of a much-anticipated local custom in many communities.

While visiting with our friends at Original Murdick’s Fudge, which opened in 1887 under a different name, owner Bobby Benser and I recently chatted about the annual Mackinac Island Fudge Festival held in August and how the Michigan Sugar Queen often is part of that sweet event.

One of his suppliers, Bay City-based Michigan Sugar Co., provides Original Murdick’s Fudge with its key ingredient. Benser’s Mackinac Island fudge makers then use about 400 pounds of that sugar on a normal action-packed summer day. They use thousands and thousands of pounds of Michigan Sugar every summer in their sweet summer treats, all delivered by horse-drawn drays from the ferry docks, six days per week during the island’s summer season packed with other festivals from late April until late October.

Michigan Sugar also sponsors $4,000 in scholarships annually for the top three Michigan Sugar Queen candidates, which are presented during the Michigan Sugar Festival celebrated in Sebewaing every June. This year’s Sugar Queen will be crowned during the June 14-17 mid-Michigan event.

This is just one example of how Michigan’s festivals and events cross many community borders to weave in important partners from all around the state.

Several of those attending the Michigan Meetings + Events Best of Michigan party on May 23 shared similar stories with me about how their businesses team up with local festivals to create fun times.

It was during one of those conversations that Greg DeSandy, director of sales and event services for Cobo Center in Detroit, mentioned our friend, Sue Bila, president of the Michigan Festivals & Events Association.

She often tells amazing stories about how businesses, communities and festivals partner to keep these local traditions alive and flourishing.

Bila’s website offers a comprehensive collection of festivals and events in the state, even listing many of those selecting festival queens. It’s a wonderful planning tool for those in the meetings business to use when mapping that next great adventure for your clients.

Its Michigan Fun guide offers ideas on ways planners can tap into this network of community events, tying in sponsorship opportunities, meeting add-ons and more. Plus, Bila likes to chat about other ideas.

Next year, I’ll be looking for a story in the guide about festival kings.

I love spring and especially the month of May. Flowers start blooming during my mom’s birthday month. It’s the official kickoff to summertime at the Up North cottage. I find myself outdoors more to enjoy bike trails that are slowly drying up for less-sloppy rides. And it’s the time when we host our annual Meetings + Events magazine Best of Michigan awards party.

So save the date — Wednesday, May 23 at Detroit’s Cobo Center. Party registration is now open online