September Arts & Entertainment Roundup

Football games and color tours aren’t the only ways to keep busy in September. From music and movies to authors and outer space, there’s a lot to do in Bay County in the coming month. Here just a few of your options for entertainment this month.
The 2023 Hell's Half Mile Film & Music Festival kicks off on Thurs., Sept. 21, bringing a long weekend of independent films and music to Downtown Bay City. (Photo courtesy of Hell's Half Mile)
Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival

The 2023 Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival brings independent films and live music to Downtown Bay City from Thurs., Sept. 21 through Sun., Sept. 24.
The festival takes its name from the 1800s when lumberjacks would leave the forest and come to Bay City to drink, gamble, and get into trouble. Today, the area is known for boutiques, restaurants, and bars. For a few days in September, it’s filled with film buffs and music enthusiasts.

Click here to learn about the films.

Click here to learn more about the music.

Tickets are available online. Buy an All Access Pass or Film Pass before the festival begins and you’ll save a little money.
September means schools is in full swing, but there's still another Wednesday night concert in Wenonah Park. (Photo Credit: Doug Coombe)
Concerts in Wenonah Park

The summer concert series continues Wed., Sept. 6 with the Trilogy Classics Live, a performance featuring classic hits from Journey, Foreigner, and Styx. The show begins at 7 p.m.

Bay City Morning Rotary Driathlon

The Bay City Morning Rotary Club offers its 13th annual Driathlon on Sun., Sept. 17. The driathlon begins at Castaways, 3040 Boy Scout Road. The three-part race calls for racers to paddle 5 kilometers, bike 20 kilometers, and run 5 kilometers. Learn more about the event, including how to register or watch it, on Facebook.

24-Hour Write-In

Get literary during a 24-hour writing marathon at the Historic Masonic Temple, 700 N. Madison Ave., beginning at 2 p.m. Sat., Sept. 9. The event is open to anyone age 18 and up. The $30 registration fee includes dinner, continental breakfast, and snacks. Bring your laptop, typewriter, or favorite pen and paper. Click here for details and to register online.

State Theatre highlights

Fall in Michigan means events move inside, but they don’t stop. Check out the State Theatre’s schedule online. September events at the 913 Washington Ave. theater include a Fri., Sept. 15 Comedy Night with Andy Beningo and a Sat., Sept. 30 showing of the movie “Loving Vincent.”

Drydock Beer Garden
Cool evenings don't mean the end of the Drydock Beer Garden season. Watch Facebook for news about which nonprofits are staffing the outdoor bar this fall. (Photo courtesy of Drydock Beer Garden)
The Drydock Beer Garden keeps serving drinks and raising money for area nonprofits well into the fall. The outdoor bar is at 113 Center Ave., tucked in between other businesses. Keep an eye on the Drydock’s Facebook page for hours and details about the nonprofits staffing the venue. The bar is outdoors, but as long as it’s not raining, it stays open for much of the fall. Heaters and fireplaces are available when the evenings turn chilly.

Studio 23/The Arts Center

Dana Lynn Harper is Studio 23’s visiting artist through late October. Harper uses paper mâché and paper clay as she “explores identity through cultural heritage, personal memories, and a connection to her present environment by using found objects.” During September, you can enroll in workshops that Harper leads. Visit Studio 23’s website to learn more about Harper and the “Beneath Dual Skies” exhibit. The Studio is located at 901 N. Water St.

Bay County Library System

September is Library Card Sign Up Month. All month long, if you show your card, you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift card. Don’t have a card? Now is your chance to get one and be entered into the drawing. The drawing is open to all Bay County residents. You can sign up for a card at any branch. Visit the website for hours and locations.

Events for adults, teens, and children fill the Bay County Library System calendar. You’ll find arts and crafts, book clubs, magic shows, and more at each of the library system’s branches.  The complete September schedule is available online.

Highlights include a Sat., Sept. 9 event with Phyllis Wong, who wrote “We Kept Our Towns Going.” The book tells the story of the women who worked in the factories of the Upper Peninsula. As the UP’s mines and timber became depleted, families depending on women working in the factories. The event runs 11 a.m. to noon and will be livestreamed in the Kantzler Community Room of the Alice & Jack Wirt Library, 500 Center Ave. Click here to learn more.

Looking for a book club? Try Books & Brews on Wed., Sept. 6. The club gathers at H2O’s, 966 E. Midland St., at 7 p.m. This month, the book is “The Word is Murder,” by Anthony Horowitz. Registration on the library website is required.

Delta College Planetarium

Learn more about eclipses when you catch a show at the Delta College Planetarium in September. (Photo courtesy of Delta College Planetarium)The Delta College Planetarium, 100 Center Ave., re-opens Fri., Sept. 1 after a closure for repairs.

Shows on the schedule in September include “The Search for Life in Space,” “Mysteries of the Great Lakes,” “3-2-1 Liftoff!,” “Eclipse: The Sun Revealed,” and “Dark Universe.” The September schedule, plus a preview of special events in October and November, is available online.

Bay City Players present "Junie B. Jones Jr., The Musical"

If you don't know Junie B. Jones, you are missing out. Author Barbara Parkland wrote a series of popular books about the quirky elementary school student and her adventures. The musical traces her path through first grade. It takes the Players stage Sept. 23-24, Sept. 30, and Oct. 1. For details and tickets, click here.

Bay County Historical Society & Museum

History is about more than dusty artifacts and staid exhibits. At the Bay County Historical Museum, 321 Washington Ave., movies, an ice cream social, yoga, and more await you.

Graphic courtesy of the Bay County Historical SocietyThe Historical Society is hosting an Ice Cream Social with Old Fashioned Games from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat., Sept. 16. During the free event at the Trombley House, 901 John F. Kennedy Drive, you can enjoy games, crafts, stories, and lessons in how to make butter and fly a kite. A bike parade steps off at noon. The complete schedule is online.

Other September highlights include:
  • No School Day at the Museum: From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fri., Sept. 1, the museum offers a scavenger hunt and a treat from The Farm at Apple Acres. Admission is free.
  • Hell’s Half Mile Walking Tours: At 1 p.m. Fri. Sept. 1 and Fri., Sept. 22, you’re invited to meet at the Museum to step off on a walking tour of Bay City’s waterfront. In the 1800s, lumberjacks gathered In this area, which came to be known as Hell’s Half Mile, for gambling, drinking, and entertainment. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under.
  • Art & History: Trombley House: From 6 to 9 p.m. Tues., Sept. 12, Studio 23 and the Historical Museum partner to offer an evening of art and history. During the evening, the Museum’s Sam Fitzpatrick details the history of the Trombley House, 901 John F. Kennedy Drive, as Studio 23’s Rachelle Dula  guides guests through a painting step-by-step. The cost is $45 per person and registration is required.
  • Yoga At the Museum: On Thurs., Sept. 14 and Thurs., Sept. 28, yoga classes are offered at the museum. Each $15, one-hour class begins at 9 a.m. Registration is required. To register, text (989) 798-0059.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Kathy Roberts.

Kathy Roberts, a graduate of Central Michigan University, moved to Bay City in 1987 to start a career in the newspaper industry. She was a reporter and editor at the Bay City Times for 15 years before leaving to work at the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Covenant HealthCare, and Ohno Design. In 2019, she returned to her storytelling roots as the Managing Editor of Route Bay City. When she’s not editing or writing stories, you can find her reading books, knitting, or visiting the bars of Bay County. You can reach Kathy at