A Unique Music Festival, Smack Dab in the Middle of Lake Michigan

(Photo: Clint McKoy,  Unsplash )

(Photo: Clint McKoy, Unsplash)

Music festivals are one-of-a-kind experiences. Even if you head to the same one year after year, there will always be a different headliner, sometimes a different group of friends, and often some unforgettable moments that aren’t likely to be replicated. Lollapalooza, Coachella, and Bonnaroo are obviously some of the biggest events out there, but if you live in the Midwest, you might also be familiar with Electric Forest and Faster Horses, two festivals that take place in Michigan every year.

One festival you may not have heard of, however, is a smaller event that’s gone on in Northern Michigan for almost two decades: the Beaver Island Music Festival. Unlike the infamous and well-documented disaster that was Fyre Festival a couple years back, this is a music festival on an island that’s actually worth going to.

Located in between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, Beaver Island, the largest island in Lake Michigan, has hosted its increasingly-popular music festival since 2003. That was the year a few people got together and said, “We want to bring some musical talent to our neck of the woods.” And so they did — literally.

Each year, Beaver Island Hideaway Campground, situated toward the middle of the island, plays host to the festival, which takes place over the third weekend in July. About eight miles south of the main harbor, the campground offers a rustic camping environment, a real chance to enjoy nature while soaking in the sounds of the festival. The best part about the camping experience, though? It comes free with the purchase of your festival ticket, which, for the three-day weekend, will only set you back $95 (find all ticket pricing information right here).

As for the festival itself, organizers with the event’s overseeing organization, Patrons of the Arts in Rural Communities, say it's all about promoting the variety and tradition of all types of music and art. The lineup typically skews folk and alternative with bits of indie rock sprinkled in.

Some of 2019’s artists include The Hacky Turtles, an alternative funk/rock group out of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Loren Cole, a songwriter who draws inspiration from the likes of Carole King and Bob Dylan; and Escaping Pavement, a pair of songwriting Michiganders who describe their first album (2016’s “The Night Owl”) as “heavy on melody-slung Americana and rollicking, twangy ballads that attained a radiance through their magnificent harmonies.”

I’ll be honest, though: if your approach to music festivals is to get as messed up as possible (either by drinking copious amounts of alcohol, doing hardcore drugs, or a little of both), you may be better served by heading to one of the larger events I mentioned at that top of this post. The Beaver Island Music Festival, where kids 12 and younger can get a wristband for free, is a much more family-friendly event, meaning behavior of the rowdy sort is frowned upon.

That said, if you’re looking to experience a chill weekend camping in the woods on the largest island in Lake Michigan, enjoying a few drinks, cooking out, and reveling in the beauty of Mother Nature while being serenaded by folksy artists and acoustic guitars, nab your tickets now (and probably head over to the Beaver Island Boat Company’s site to start getting those travel plans together).

-LTH