We can’t believe that summer is over. The weather is great but the daylight is shortening and the evenings are cool. So its no surprise that the last festival of the year rolls into Caseville this weekend. The Caseville Pumpkin Festival is a family oriented weekend of scarecrow making, pumpkin carving, hay rides and all kinds of contests.
Caseville Pumpkin Festival
This weekend’s event marks the 16th year of the fall festival. Created specifically for kids and families. The big event draw is the pumpkin rolling contest at Caseville County Park. A couple of new events are being added in 2018. The streets of Caseville will be the canvas with a sidewalk art with chalk. For added fun, there will also be wagon rides and a pumpkin eating contest.
The festival starts on Saturday morning with a kids pumpkin parade at 9am. Check out the Caseville Chamber of Commerce site for all of the events. We will be there and hope to share the fun on Twitter @Thumbwind.
It’s finally here. My favorite time to be in Michigan’s Thumb. The Caseville Cheeseburger Festival has long since past. The Labor Day weekend has come and gone. Things are quieter. I can now cross M-25 over the the beach in silence and without fear. What a great season. For many folks, this was an odd summer. Extremely hot in July then the rain hit just about every weekend. Saginaw Bay was cool and clear until mid-August and the walleye stayed in the shallows off “The Slot” until really late in the season. Now it’s time to put away the beach toys and look for that favorite sweatshirt when near the fire on cool nights or when burning leaves.
The Fall Season in the Thumb
Now it’s time for football on Friday evenings on WLEW, chili on the stove, and it’s finally cool enough for a sweatshirt. I don’t expect the leaves to fall until later in September, but I am seeing a hint of color on my maple trees. The crickets are in full chirp mode during the overnight. A sure sign of a waning summer.
It’s going to get more quiet, more serene. Soon the boats will be coming out at the marina, the trailers parked all summer at the campgrounds will be leaving or wrapped up and winterized. Cottages will be closed. Garden’s are turned over.
However, for now, I look forward to the iconic Indian summer. A string of unusually warm days after a snap of chilly ones. It sometimes hits during late September, but I’ve seen it come later. The long shadow of a bright sun and crisp fall air. It’s an ideal time to be around at the tip of the Thumb.
The 20th annual Cheeseburger in Caseville is a chance to experience a bit of Key West atmosphere, Jimmy Buffet music and indulge in cheeseburgers in paradise. In prior years, officials placed estimates were that over 100,000 people visited the area during its 10 day festival. It’s a family friendly event during the day but offers a bit of craziness that true Parrot Heads appreciate in the evening hours. Here are some hints provided by those who frequent the event each year.
Be Prepared for Cheeseburger in Caseville
This includes having your own water, a rain jacket and comfortable walking shoes. Fill a small backpack with snacks, sunscreen and even a change of clothes. Double on this point if your bringing kids!!
Gas Up Before You Arrive at Cheeseburger in Caseville
If your getting here on fumes, gas up in Elkton, Kinde, Bay Port, Port Austin or Bad Axe. The main street in Caseville gets busy and packed. You will feel better knowing you can get out without waiting an hour in line for a few gallons of gas.
Use the Shuttle Lot at Cheeseburger in Caseville
Set Up a Base Camp – Park your car and plan on walking around. Park a few blocks away from Main so you can get easy in and out. Parking is crazy in the Caseville County Park or near Main Street. Do not park on someone’s lawn.
No Open Alcohol on the Street at Cheeseburger in Caseville
Do Not Drink on the Street – This is not New Orleans Mardi Gras. Open alcohol containers are a no-no. You will see the un-informed with a open beer walking down the street. They are a target for a ticket. Drink in designated areas.
Luck Favors the Informed at Cheeseburger in Caseville
Be Informed of Events – Grab a free Event Calendar from Caseville Chamber of Commerce. There are also several Smartphone apps available. Tune in to WLEW – FM at 102.1 on your drive in for weather and local updates.
The Wednesday Evening Parade is the Top Event at Cheeseburger in Caseville
Set up For the Parade of Tropical Fools Early – This is the highlight of the whole festival. By late morning on Wednesday you should claim a spot for your clan with chairs and ribbon. Be cool about it. There will be up to 50,000 friends with you.
First Saturday? Head for the Fire Station at Cheeseburger in Caseville
Support Your Local Firefighters – The Caseville Fire Department only offers its famous Firehouse Burgers on the first Saturday. Its for a great cause and they are delicious.
Plenty of Facilities at Cheeseburger in Caseville
Use the Porta Pottys – Guys and Gals, public urination will get you arrested. Fortunately there are hundreds of portable toilets.
Relax and Have Fun – Make a new friend, help a senior citizen, take crazy pictures and post. It’s Key North and the best part of the summer.
Plan B- Do Something Else – If you, or your kids have had enough Cheeseburger Fest and crowds, try something else. Here are a couple of fresh ideas.
Michigan’s Upper Thumb Festival Season Starts in Bay Port
Bay Port, Michigan – As late summer rolls around the days get a bit shorter and the evenings around the campfire can have a bit of chill in the air. It’s also festival season! If you’re in the Upper Thumb the first weekend in August, head to Bay Port. The Bay Port Fish Sandwich Festival is the granddaddy of them all. Since 1978 folks come in and lined up for a fish sandwich that “takes two hands to hold one.” At $4.00 it’s a deal. It’s a family friendly event but its proximity to the historic Bay Port Inn make thoughts of having a “short one” prior to hitting the craft booths not uncommon.
Events start on Friday, August 3rd at noon with sandwiches and a large continuous craft show, the crowning of the festival’s king, queen, prince and princess and fireworks on Friday evening at Saturday’s events start with a 5K walk/run then the festival’s parade kicks off at 10:30 a.m. Craft booths and fish sandwiches are sold throughout the day.
The festival concludes on Sunday at noon with a fish eating contest.
A Bite of Bay Port Fish Sandwich History
The Engelhard’s family started the community’s Fish Sandwich Festival. In 1949 Henry and Edna began selling the famous fish sandwich. By 1953, the Engelhard’s erected a stand on the front lawn of their home, with a sign that touted Bay Port’s Original Fresh Boneless Fried Fish Sandwich.
The first Fish Sandwich Festival was held in 1978, and just like Caseville’s 1st Rib stock held years later, they quickly sold out. Today the annual number of visitors averages over 10,000. Back in the late 1940’s folks told them they were crazy, but the Bay Port fishery certainly captivated them and, after all, the Bay Port slogan is “Fish caught the Man.”
The fish sandwich is the prime attraction. The original sandwich is local caught freshwater Mullet is dipped in a secret batter, fried crisp, and served on a long bun with ketchup and mustard. Although not traditional, tartar sauce is also available. According to Henry, the fish should overlap the bun and the sandwich should be so large “it takes two hands to hold it.” All day, the lines in front of the sandwich stand are long. It is not unusual to sell 12,500 sandwiches to people from as far away as Florida and the northeast.
Henry was the festival’s primary inspiration, energy, supporter, and promoter. He wrote many stories regaling the fish sandwiches’ power to please and to heal. Through his efforts, the festival has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, ABCs 20/20, and in many national magazines and newspapers. In recognition of their contribution to the Fish Sandwich Festival, Henry and Edna (she died in 1992) were honored as “Mr. and Mrs. Bay Port.”
Online reports from WNEM and other news outlets have reported that recent tests of Caseville, Michigan’s water supply showed excessive levels of Trihalomethine. Trihalomethanes are formed as a by-product when chlorine is used to disinfect drinking water. Trihalomethanes forced the first water safety regulations to be issued after passage of the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974.
Chemical Byproduct in Water System Seen in 2016 Testing
Caseville said they are seeing 2017 average test results at of Trihalomethine at 88 parts per billion. Caseville’s 2016 Water Report showed measurements of Trihalomethine ranging from 40 to 100 parts per billion. Four tests were conducted in 2016 with an overall average at 74 parts per billion. The safety standard is 80 parts per billion.
We spoke with Troy Hartz, Superintendent of the Caseville Water Plant. Caseville’s water supply comes from Saginaw Bay. He noted that the measurements in August have the highest level of Trihalomethine due to the warmer water from the lake. Hartz noted that the Michigan DEQ informed him that there are other Michigan water systems who draw surface water from lakes who are also experiencing the high Trihalomthine measurements during August testing.
Steps Being Taken
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has been brought in to the Caseville Water Plant to determine the best way to address the problem and comply with the water safety standard. Hartz indicated that adjustments may be made of the amount of chlorine applied at Caseville’s pumping station to address the concern.
Caseville has not asked residents to seek other water sources but has asked residents with health concerns to consult with their doctor.
Long-term exposure to high levels of Trihalomethanes can lead to kidney or liver damage and an increased risk for cancer.