• 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.

There are all sorts of cool things for groups to plug into this summer, including two new options in Snowmass and opportunities to sample all sorts of Colorado food and beverage at the Truck Stop: Food Truck Rally Summer Series, held at various locations in the Denver area.


Tis the season for getting out and exploring. Our friends at Destination Gettysburg shared their list of upcoming festivals so take note, mark your calendar and make the trip to Gettysburg!

Gettysburg Brass Band Festival


More than 1 million people visited Dilworth Park in December, up 14% from 2016. The fun isn’t over yet, as the attractions and activities at the Park continue through the end of February.