Your guide to Bay County's 2024 summer festival schedule

Summer weekends in the Great Lakes Bay Region mean choosing from festivals, events, and concerts. Here are some of the highlights that you'll want to put on your calendar now.

Photo courtesy of PerceptionsThe centerpiece of Pride month is the Great Lakes Bay Pride Festival, which is held in Wenonah Park every summer. This year's event is set for Sat., June 22.Great Lakes Bay Pride Month and Festival

Great Lakes Bay Pride, based in Bay City, serves Bay, Midland, Isabella, and Saginaw counties.

Throughout the year, events take place all around the region. It picks up during Pride month in June.

The 2024 Yard Sign Campaign is open now. Visit the website to order your sign before Fri., May 24.

The centerpiece of Pride month is the Great Lakes Bay Pride Festival, which takes place Sat., June 22 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Wenonah Park.

PerceptionsGreat Lakes Loons Pride Night is Fri., June 7 at Dow Diamond in Midland.Other special Pride Month events include:
  • Pop Up Pride in the Park is Sat., June 1 at Broadway Park in Mount Pleasant. The event includes an open house at the Mount Pleasant Pride Center, an After Party Drag Show at Broadway Theatre, and a film screening at the Broadway Theatre.
  • Great Lakes Loons Pride Night is Fri., June 7 at Dow Diamond in Midland. The ticket price includes reserved seating and a donation to Great Bay Lakes Bay Pride.
  • Pride Month Tea Dance on Sun., June 16 at the Drydock Beer Garden, 113 Center Ave., is free, but only open to those 18 and over.
  • The After Party Drag Show on Sat., June 29 at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw. The party is billed as the largest drag show in the region.
A full schedule of events, as well as links to purchase tickets, is available online.

Ashley BrownThe city closes several downtown streets for the annual Riverside Art Festival.Riverside Arts Festival

Ashley BrownMoira Branigan serves as the Executive Director of the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region.The Riverside Arts Festival, a program of the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region, returns to Downtown Bay City for its 50th year on Sat., June 8 and Sun., June 9.

Artists from around the country will fill the streets with booths where you can view and buy handmade pottery, jewelry, textiles, sculpture, watercolors, woodworking, and more. All vendors go through a jury process before they are selected for the festival.

Food trucks and music keep the festive atmosphere going during the two-day event.

Scott BakerSixties Fest brings the music of Grateful Dead to the Midland Street Business District on Sat., June 15. Third Annual Sixties Fest

If you can’t get enough of classic 1960s music, then mark your calendar for Sat., June 15. That’s the third annual Sixties Fest in the Midland Street Business District.

Cosmic Rose, a Grateful Dead tribute band, is the star of the event. People will be dancing in the streets near Brooklyn Boyz, 507 E. Midland St. You’ll also find pop-up vendors and food.

Admission is free, but bring your own chair.

More details are available on Facebook.

St. Stans Polish Festival

Runners, fans of Polish music, and anyone in search of a fun time is invited to St. Stans Polish Festival, which runs from Thurs., June 27 to Sun., June 30.

Registration is open now for the Thurs., June 27 5K run and walk. The event also includes a bingo tent, kids raffle, rides, and more.

Polka music and dancing inside an entertainment tent is the star of the festival, but the event also includes bingo, raffles, rides, and more.

The final day of the festival begins with an outdoor Catholic Mass held under the big tent at 11 a.m. Sun., June 30.

Keep an eye on Facebook for details about the bands and events.

Pinconning CheeseTown Festival and Races

CheeseTown Challenge Festival and RacesThe CheeseTown Festival is an opportunity to draw tourists into the City and give local businesses a chance to show Pinconning’s signature product.Pinconning gets cheesy over Father’s Day weekend.

The annual Pinconning CheeseTown Festival and Race kicks off with a macaroni and cheese cookoff on Fri., June 21. On Sat., June 22, there’s a parade, cornhole tournament, inflatables, food vendors, fireworks, and more.

One of the highlights is the annual CheeseTown Challenge Races. The races, held at Doc Letchfield Park in Pinconning, includes a 2-mile run, 2-mile walk, 5-mile run, Little Meeces (for kids 8 and under), and the “Iron Cheese.” In the Iron Cheese, runners complete both the 2-mile and 5-mile runs. You can register online for the races.

Photo courtesy of the Bay City Fireworks FestivalPeople gather in Uptown Bay City to enjoy the Bay City Fireworks Festival in 2016.Bay City Fireworks Festival

Bay City is known for a lot of things, but few are more colorful than our reputation for shooting fireworks over the Saginaw River every July.

The Bay City Fireworks Festival is more than three nights of fireworks, though. From Thurs., July 4 through Sat., July 6, you can go to concerts, enjoy a carnival ride, visit Trader’s Alley, and more.

For the most up-to-date information on festival happenings, follow the Facebook page. (Doublecheck you are following the right page. The Fireworks Facebook page was hacked this spring and a new one was established.)

Highlights of the three-day 2024 festival include:
  • Slaughter, best known for the hits "Up All Night," and "Fly to the Angels," performs Thurs., July 4 in Wenonah Park. Click here for Slaughter tickets.
  • On Fri, July 5, Jack Russell’s Great White entertains crowds in the East Side park. The band is best known for its hit "Once Bitten, Twice Shy." Click here for Great White tickets.
On the West Side of the river in Veterans Memorial Park, you’ll find Trader’s Alley with vendors selling everything from sunglasses and t-shirts to candles and jewelry.

The Cornfest

The Auburn Cornfest returns this summer, but it won’t look quite like it has in previous years. Most noticeably, it’s not in Auburn and now goes by the moniker The Cornfest.

The 2024 Cornfest will take place Thurs., July 11 through Sun. July 14 at the Midland County Fairgrounds.

The festival last took place in Auburn in 2022. Litigation prevented the festival from taking place in 2023.

Watch the organization's Facebook page for the schedule and special events.

Munger Potato Festival

Celebrate spuds at the Munger Potato Festival, set for Thurs., July 25 through Sun., July 28 at the festival grounds, 48 E. Munger Road.

As always, the festival includes a demolition derby, Figure 8 championships, cornhole tournaments, a parade, entertainment, and potatoes.

Watch the Munger Potato Festival website and Facebook page for updates on events and links to buy tickets.

Labadie Rib Fest

Graphic courtesy of the Labadie Rib FestWe can’t live on potatoes alone. Maybe that’s why the Labadie Rib Fest takes place just a few miles away from the Munger Potato Festival.

Labadie Rib Fest takes place in Veterans Memorial Park on Bay City’s West Side from Thurs., July 25 through Sun., July 28.

Throughout the long weekend, you’ll have the chance to buy ribs from vendors around the country. Don’t forget this isn’t just a festival. It’s also a contest. Visit multiple vendors before voting for your favorite. The winner will be crowned at the end of the event.

The festival also raises money for local nonprofits. The list of beneficiaries is posted on the website. During the Celebrity Rib Cookoff on Fri., July 26 from noon to 1 p.m., admission is free. Sales during that time help out the local charities.

The event also includes a cornhole tournament, fun events for the kids, and four different musical guests.

Tickets are on sale online now for the festival’s musical guests including:
  • The Prince Experience, a tribute band dedicated to performing Prince’s iconic music, takes the stage on Thurs., July 25
  • Frankie Ballard, an American country music singer-songwriter with Michigan connections, is the featured performer on Fri., July 26. Ballard played baseball at Mott Community College and Western Michigan University. He signed with Reprise Records in Nashville in 2010 and has seen several singles move up the charts including “Helluva Life,” “Young & Crazy,” and “It All Started With a Beer.”
  • Ambrosia, a rock band that had five top 40 hit singles between 1975 and 1980, takes the stage on Sat., July 27. The band is best known for “Hoe Much I Feel,” and “Biggest Part of Me.”
  • The final band is Jackyl, performing on Sun., July 28. Jackyl is known for its hair metal/southern rock style. Their debut album sold more than a million copies and produced the hit single “When Will It Rain.” The band is best known for the song “The Lumberjack.”
Birds keep the Bay City State Park filled with song all year, but waterfowl take center stage during a festival held the first weekend of August every yearThe Saginaw Bay Waterfowl Festival

Birds keep the Bay City State Park filled with song all year, but waterfowl take center stage during a festival held the first weekend of August every year. This year’s festival lands on Sat., Aug. 3 and Sun., Aug. 4.

Events during the festival inside the park at 3582 State Park Drive include a hunter expo, duck calling and carving competitions, demonstrations, and more.

Full details will be announced on Facebook.

Bay County Fair and Youth Expo

The Bay County Fair and Youth Expo, which goes back to 1865, holds its annual event Tues. Aug. 6 through Sat., Aug. 10.

Keep an eye on Facebook for the full schedule of events. As a bonus, the Facebook page will alert you to fundraisers.

River of Time Bay City

Photo courtesy of the River of TimeThe River of Time brings history alive every September. For years, the historic reenactment was held in the banks of the Saginaw River. In 2023, it moved to Johnson's Pumpkin Farm, 4715 N. Portsmouth Road. 

This year, it takes place from Fri., Sept. 27 through Sun., Sept. 29. On the first day, area schools are invited to visit the festival between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

As the event gets closer, more details will be posted on the River of Time website.
Photo courtesy of Hell's Half Mile Film and Music FestivalFor years, the Hell’s Half-Mile Film and Music Festival has filled a September weekend with independent films and music at venues throughout the downtown area. Hell’s Half Mile Film and Music Festival

Details are few since the festival is a few months away, but it’s not too early to put the Hell’s Half Mile Film and Music Festival on your calendar. The 2024 event is Thurs., Sept. 26 through Sun., Sept. 29. If you go to the website now, you can click a button to be notified when ticket sales open.

As the name implies, the weekend is full of independent movies and original music. You might now know is the festival also puts on events throughout the year including fundraisers and film screenings.

Follow the Facebook page for details about events all year.

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