Long Lake Lights Festival Friday

LONG LAKE – Alpena County’s park on Long Lake will be packed with family-friendly activities Saturday as the Long Lake Lights Festival returns for its fourth year.

Kristin Romel, festival events coordinator, said the festival will include everything from a petting zoo to an arts and crafts show, with a fireworks display to cap off the evening. The festival got its start around five years ago, when Romel and her husband put on their own fireworks display and a large crowd gathered to watch. This gave her an idea.

“It stared by me saying, ‘Hey, we should do this like a festival,'” she said.

Romel and others continued the festival as a way to boost the local economy, and give families an inexpensive way to have some summer fun, she said.

Along with live music, food vendors and a horseshoe tournament starting at noon, there will be other games, like Chicken Drop Bingo, Romel said. The arts and crafts show runs from noon until 6 p.m., and fireworks start at around 10 p.m.

“People should climb in their boats and make their way to the county park,” she said. “You get such a better show if you’re close, versus sitting at your cottage or your house.”

Other noteworthy events include an appearance by what is known as the Michigan Stiltwalker, Romel said. Neil Sauter has mild cerebral palsy, and has crossed the state walking on stilts twice. He’ll be performing, making balloon animals and teaching kids how to juggle. Sauter will give his proceeds to United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan.

Another group will also give its proceeds to a good cause, Romel said. Zone Productions will bring its inflatable park, and donate proceeds to send special-needs children to summer camps.

Those looking to take place in the “PBR” triathalon can register starting at 7:30 a.m., with the race to follow at 8:30 a.m., Romel said. Participants will bike from Long Lake Park to Maplewood Tavern, run from there to the former Burton’s Last Resort, then canoe or kayak back to Long Lake Park. According to a flyer for the event, it’s $20 to participate, with half of the fees going to winners of the youth and adult divisions and the remainder going to the Montmorency Alpena Presque Isle Community Emergency Response Team.

Romel and other organizers have taken great strides to resolve parking and security issues, she said. This year, participants will park at Dodge Marina, a short distance north at the intersection of Long Lake Park Road and US-23. For $1, they can get shuttle rides to the county park.

“If they need to go back to their car, they can ride it as many times as they want to,” she said.

For more information and to register for events, visit www.longlakelightsfestival.com.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.