Celebrate Independence Day with the Manistee National Forest Festival

Workers prepare carnival rides for the start of the Forest Festival Wednesday. (David Navadeh/News Advocate)

Workers prepare carnival rides for the start of the Forest Festival Wednesday. (David Navadeh/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — The Manistee National Forest Festival kicks off the summer season on Wednesday with a bang.

The 78th annual Forest Festival runs through Sunday. The Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce works hard to make the event a success each year.

“The Manistee National Forest Festival is one of Manistee County’s largest events that gives an economic boost to local businesses,” said Stacie Bytwork, director of Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce. “The Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to put this amazing event on for the community and thanks everyone for their support!”

The schedule for the week includes dozens of events and is available in print throughout the area and also at www.manisteechamber.com/forestfestival.

There are many new events this year, including:

  • Manistee Art Institute Nathan Greene artist reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Ramsdell Theatre;

    T.J. Schmidt & Company employee Ace Spade, of Muskegon, sets up a carnival game at First Street Beach.  (David Navadeh/News Advocate)

    T.J. Schmidt & Company employee Ace Spade, of Muskegon, sets up a carnival game at First Street Beach. (David Navadeh/News Advocate)

  • Shrek the Musical at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Ramsdell Theatre;
  • Far Far Away Photo Op from 3 to 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Ramsdell Theatre — get a photo taken with fairy tale creatures from the cast of “Shrek;”
  • Forest Festival Kick Off and Farewell Tour to Save the Manistee Lighthouse at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday;
  • Whispering Pines Mobile Zoo is bringing an exciting addition to their exhibit from 10 a.m. to dusk on Friday and Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday at First Street Beach;
  • Hayride at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday at Douglas Valley Winery, located at 5375 Douglas Valley Drive;
  • Mini Jiingtamok & Cultural Exhibit from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Friday at the Festival Tent at First Street Beach;
  • Manistee National Forest Festival Karaoke Finals at 6 p.m. on Friday;
  • Kayak Kruize presented by Insta Launch Campground at 11 a.m. on Saturday, meet at Insta Launch Campground, located at 20 Park Ave. in Manistee;
  • Grey Dragons Poker Run to benefit Little Mary’s Hospitality House from noon to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Festival Tent at First Street Beach;
  • Douglas Valley Wine & Music at 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at Douglas Valley Winery, located at 5375 Douglas Valley Drive; and
  • Manistee Catholic Central 50th Anniversary Reunion from 2 to 11 p.m. at MCC, located at 1200 U.S. 31 South.

A few returning events will take place at new locations.

The Forest Festival Kids Parade (at 10 a.m. on Saturday) and Kids Day (from 10:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday) will be held at Manistee Catholic Central School, while the World Famous Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast will be held from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Manistee Armory, located at 555 First St.

The festival kicks off with the Pharmacist & Drug Stores of Manistee County exhibit from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday at the Manistee County Historical Museum, located at 425 River St. in Manistee.

“There were lots and lots of pharmacies over the years here, dating back to the 1870s, so basically the exhibit is going to pay tribute to those pharmacies, those businesses and the people who worked there,” said Mark Fedder, executive director of the museum. “It should be a lot of fun, and it’s something new that we have never done before.”

Fedder said the museum is always busy during the Forest Festival.

“It’s always fun seeing more and more people on River Street,” he said. “This is a fun exhibit. Tom Gerhardt, as usual, has done a great job putting it together.”

The midway — a crowd favorite — opens at 2 p.m. on Thursday. The Schmidt & Company Carnival will once again take over the parking area at First Street Beach, offering rides, carnival food and games.

“The midway is like our own little city. We have power and all, and we just need to hook up the pipes and we have water,” said Terry Schmidt, owner of T.J. Schmidt & Company.

As always, the highlights of the festival are the Independence Day Parade, to be held at 10 a.m. on Friday; and fireworks over Lake Michigan at 10:30 p.m., also on Friday.