GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — After a year off, the Coast Guard Festival is set to return to Grand Haven this weekend.
The festival was canceled last year due to COVID-19. It was the first time it had to be nixed since it began in 1937. Organizers say the community is ready for its return.
“We’re so thrilled to bring it back this year. The community wants it. They’re so excited. We’re selling tickets like crazy, so I feel like it’s going to be a good turnout,” Annie Lengkeek with the Coast Guard Festival said.
The festival will begin Friday night with a concert at the waterfront. Organizers say the festival will include a carnival, a car show and parade, among other events. The only events that won’t return this year are the water ball competition and the kids parade. Visitors will also not be allowed to board the ships at Escanaba Park.
“Those decisions were made way before the state opened up. We decided it’s a lot of planning and tying together loose ends. So, we just thought for the ease of it, at this point, we’re going to let that be canceled,” Lengkeek said.
The festival typically brings in about 350,000 people every year. It’s the reason the city teamed up with the Ottawa County Health Department to host a vaccine clinic at the Ottawa County courthouse during the festival. They say they’re hoping to attract populations that have lagged in vaccinations.
“We recognize that an awful lot of young people come to Coast Guard. They love that atmosphere, excitement, vitality and enthusiasm,” Grand Haven City Manager Patrick McGinnis said.
Everyone who gets a shot during the clinic will be put into a raffle to win a gift card to Sweet Temptations ice cream shop or a local brewery. The city says Odd Side Ales, Grand Armory Brewing Company, Long Road Distillers and Burzurk Brewing partnered with them for the raffle.
Organizers will begin setting up for the festival on Thursday. The Coast Guard ships are expected to get to the Grand Haven shoreline on Monday.
The festival runs until Aug. 7, when it will end with a fireworks finale.
The vaccine clinic will be on Aug. 3 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Aug. 5 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Aug. 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. More information about days and times of Coast Guard Festival events and how to purchase tickets can be found on their website.