Black Bear Festival takes place Saturday

CURRAN – The Curran Black Bear Festival take place Saturday, and organizers expect anywhere from 500 to 1,000 will attend from Fairview, Mio, Glennie, Barton City and Harrisville.

That could more than double the size of the population in Mitchell Township, which has only 352 permanent residents.

“As of (Monday) morning, the weather is supposed to be nice – 70 and sunny,” festival Chairperson Carla Brimm, a Mitchell Township trustee, said.

That means plenty of vintage automobiles and their owners should be on hand for the car show, which is being sponsored for the first time by Family Enterprise Embroidery of Alpena. Last year, 50 cars showed up, she said.

The event also will offer a display of antique tractors for the first time, Brimm said. A pedal tractor pull for children also is being organized as a game.

The event is free, but is expected to cost around $5,000, she said. However, vendor fees and other funds cover the cost, and any remaining money is donated to charity.

The event was first held in 2005, after several men at a small cafe brainstormed about a way to get their community on the map. They settled on black bear, small 250- to 300-pound bruins that can be found inhabiting 144 square miles of forested land within the boundaries of the township, resident Maxine Small said.

Once the community received official designation as Black Bear Capital of Michigan, local residents showed up to put on the event, now in its ninth year.

“I live on a farm, so I don’t see them much,” Small said. “But people going up and down the highway see them on M-65 from the north junction.”

Another incident also helped, somewhat, although it eventually turned out to be illegal. In 2002, hunters in the Curran area shot and killed the second largest black bear ever taken in the state. However, an investigation revealed that the killing had been done illegally, and the bear eventually was seized by authorities. That 662-pound bruin is now on display at the Besser Museum.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.