When the summer season finally comes around in northern Michigan it is a special time for everyone. It means it is time to shake off those winter coats, turn off the heat, and open the windows to welcome in that (sometimes) warm summer breeze. Summertime in this area signifies a time to celebrate. The trees are budding and producing leaves, and flowers are beginning to bloom and spread that sweet summer smell. One particular flower is a symbol of the beginning of summer, and its charming aroma brings pleasure to all those who breathe it in: the Lilac. No other place in Michigan commemorates Lilacs like the Lilac Festival on Mackinac Island. This ten-day festival allows locals and tourists alike to let go of those winter blues and rejoice in all things summer. This year the Lilac Festival began on June 10 and lasts all week long having all sorts of events and different activities going on every day. The last hoorah and most popular event of the festival is the Grand Parade on Sunday, June 19.
Sixty-two years ago began the “Mackinac Island Lilac Day,” which was a one-day event on the Island created by Evangeline “Ling” Horn. In 1949, Evangeline wanted to celebrate the collection of all the beautiful and aromatic lilac bushes and trees on the island in the form of a parade on Lilac Sunday. Over the years this single-day event has quickly transformed into over a week-long spectacular festival. What once was a simple horse-drawn parade among the alluring smell of the lilacs, inspired the creation of an event so remarkable, people from all over the world attend it.
The Lilac Festival hosts a variety of events and activities every day for all ages. The festival kicked off with its annual 10k race Saturday morning, having participants run around the island. Saturday also included “Dancing in the Streets” where the West Michigan Bootscooters taught people how to country
line dance. Throughout the week festivities include daily wine and beer tasting, an architectural walking tour, art exhibitions, a lilac tour, a golf tournament, a street hockey tournament, and a tour of the Governor’s summer residence! In addition to all these fun events, there is the “Taste of Mackinac”, a showcase for all chefs on the island featuring delicious foods that you can wash down with plenty of beer and wine. What’s not to love about the Lilac Festival?
But that’s not all. The main event of the Lilac Festival is the famous Grand Parade. The Grand Parade is the festival’s grand finale, an event that draws the most people for its amazing floats and the amusing Scottville Clown Band. You do not want to miss this! It is the most popular event of the Lilac Festival, and at the end, the best floats or entries are voted for as Parade Winners. The Grand Parade has been recognized as a local legacy event by the Library of Congress, that’s how awesome it is!
Mackinac Island attracts thousands of visitors from all over the United States each year just for this event, and each year it becomes more and more popular. It is an event that is so much fun, everyone should experience it. ~Mel Libby, Regional Director