Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival a family event

ALPENA The 18th annual Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival will be coming to Alpena Oct. 10-13 with plenty of events on the schedule for the whole family. The festival promotes the historic lighthouses and lifesaving stations of the Great Lakes, and is the only place where the public can meet with such a large concentration of lighthouse groups.

“When the sun is shining and the weather is good, we can bring around 3,000-5,000 people out along the shoreline,” festival organizer Melanie Kirn said. “There are helicopter tours, glass-bottom boat tours and plenty of exhibitors with lighthouse items for sale and auction.”

Kirn said there are many new crafters this year from out of state, and there will be a new lighthouse photography workshop with a teacher from Lansing who will take classes to different lighthouses and working with them.

“The workshop will be available every day,” Kirn said. “Each day students will be able to photograph a different lighthouse.”

The APlex will house over 20 lighthouse exhibits from around the Great Lakes including the featured lighthouse this year, Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Photographers, artists, crafters, the sole survivor of the Daniel J. Morrel shipwreck will be available for book signings, and working replicas of historic lighthouses will be on sale. There also will be a film company accepting face shots and resumes for a movie about lighthouse keepers.

“There is no other place with such a large concentration of lighthouse groups, things to purchase and just people interested in lighthouses,” Kirn said. “Families will get a sense of pride knowing more about the lighthouses and lifesaving stations around the area. They learn a part of history, and it’s fun!”

Dinners with free live entertainment and silent auctions will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at the Sanctuary Inn. There will be a video on the 1913 storm on Friday night, and on Saturday a virtual tour of the lighthouses of Door County, Wis., will be presented.

Saturday at the APlex will be a live auction with over 75 nautical items up for bids, with the money raised going to help lighthouse organizations with restoration efforts.

“Family day is Sunday,” Kirn said. “Children can pick up a lighthouse passport and visit each lighthouse to get a stamp. Once they get all the stamps, they get a prize.”

Sunday is also “Shine a Light on Hunger” day, and those attendees who donate two or more nonperishable food items will get in for free on Sunday. All of the items collected will be donated to Saint Bernard’s soup kitchen.

“The festival is a great time for everyone,” Kirn said. “Many people who have been here keep coming back. Alpena is a beautiful place and we really want the community to get involved and enjoy the festival.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.