Another busy summer ahead despite cancellations

ALPENA – Although the Wings Over Alpena Air Show has been canceled this summer, there still will be many events people from in and outside Alpena to enjoy.

Many of the events are geared toward providing people an enjoyable time and to provide a boost in traffic into local businesses. Others are being held to help support organizations such as Friends Together and Relay for Life.

Alpena Downtown Development Authority Director Lesslee Dort said there will be something for everyone to enjoy and believes the businesses downtown are excited about the activities planned.

“We have a ton going on downtown this summer. We’ll have the League of Michigan Bicyclists in town for three days, then we are looking at doing a ‘Summer Stroll’ downtown,” Dort said. “The stroll would incorporate as many merchants as we can to open up our downtown on a summer evening, provide some refreshments and have people walk around and shop, or just window shop.”

Alpena’s staple events, such as the Michigan Brown Trout Festival, Art on the Bay and sidewalk sales also will be held. Dort said there will be sailboat races and fundraising events to support cancer victims as well.

“We will host the North American Yingling championship coming in August, which is part of the sailboat regatta. We will have a lot of transient folks coming to visit for that and it is a great spectator sport for people locally to enjoy,” Dort said. “Relay for Life will be held on the Heritage Trail this year and Friends Together will host several events downtown. This is very exciting for downtown.”

Dort said there are plans in the works for a ladies and gents night downtown, where one night the women take over downtown for shopping and fun, followed by the men who will do the same a week later. She said there also is a good chance that more events could be added, either by the DDA or other local entities.

“It seems like every group is working on something. Friends Together is planning a pig roast and a special celebration at the brewery where there will be entertainment,” Dort said. “Combine that with the Relay for Life event and it should be a great experience for everyone. People who aren’t directly involved can and are encouraged to take part and join in the activity.”

Last summer was highlighted by the filming of Major League Fishing on Grand Lake, Hubbard Lake and Long Lake. The popularity of the show is already providing benefits for Alpena, as out of town fisherman are ready to tackle the lakes the pros fished. Other fishing programs are interested in filming in Alpena as well.

Alpena Convention and Visitors Bureau President Mary Beth Stutzman said there are several events that will lure people to the area this summer. Some will be similar to Major League Fishing, as well as the Harley Owners Group, which held its annual rally in Alpena last year. Others are new events that will boost tourism.

“We are going to be hosting the International ROV competition early in the summer, which will bring about 1,000 visitors and then later there will be a visit from the Ford Model-A group,” Stutzman said. “We have also confirmed we will be doing another television show called Fishing University, which will be filmed in Alpena. It is another popular fishing show on the Outdoor Channel and a number of other channels. It will also highlight the Alpena High School. It will once again get Alpena on national television. It’s a long-running, respected show that focuses on the education aspects of the sport.”

Other local events that will be taking place include the 2nd Annual Bike Fest, which will bring together local and out of area bikers to raise money for the soup kitchen in Alpena. There will be entertainment, camping and fun for people of all ages, whether they own a motorcycle or not. The annual Antique Tractor Show is also slated for this summer, as well as the usual Memorial Day, Labor Day and Independence Day Celebrations and events.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.