Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Traverse City Welcomes Inaugural Great Wakes Festival Coming June 1-2

A weekend-long community celebration of water sports, activities and conservation is heading to Traverse City’s bayfront this June.

Porterhouse Productions and Bay Area Recycling for Charities are partnering up to launch the first annual Great Wakes Festival June 1 and 2 in downtown Traverse City. The festival will focus on raising funds and awareness for water-focused non-profits, supporting efforts to protect and keep clean the region’s rivers, streams and lakes and offering a wide variety of water-themed activities and entertainment throughout the weekend. Festival proceeds, which will be distributed by Bay Area Recycling for Charities, will help benefit local non-profit organizations focused on water-related causes.

Highlights of this huge bayfront festival will include:

*the country’s largest self-contained wakeboarding pool system in downtown’s Open Space, featuring professional wakeboarding demonstrations and a Wakes War Tournament Cup with local and professional riders;

*paddle, kayak, and kiteboarding demonstrations and displays;

*boating displays and events; delicious water themed food court and soda jerk ice cream stations;

*water education activities; family-friendly games and events;

*a teen zone featuring a silent disco tent and activities produced by local student-run Youth Union;

*a community aerial art display project in partnership with GoodWill Industries of Northern Michigan (creating a large-scale image, when photographed from above, of the Great Lakes using volunteers, two tons of blue jeans and recycled materials);

*Coast Guard helicopter tours and search-and-rescue demonstrations;

*a competitive stand-up paddleboarding race down the Boardman River;

*a Great Wakes beach volleyball tournament (which will help raise funds for new beach sand for the West End volleyball courts);

*the first annual Traverse City Beach Race (organized in partnership with the Traverse City March of Dimes);

*local beach and water clean-up;

*and regional partner events, including the Grand Traverse Area Sport Fishing Association 2012 Trout Derby.

Festival tents on-site during the weekend will highlight award-winning Michigan microbrews and wines, as well as local food and local and national music on multiple stages.

Online registration for competitive events begins on Monday, April 23 at The Great Wakes Stand-Up Paddleboard Race, which will highlight the Boardman River dam removal project and the efforts of the Grand Traverse Conservation District, will take place on Saturday at 11 a.m., June 2. Registration is $25 per entrant and is limited to 50 racers per heat in beginner, intermediate and advance categories.

The first annual Traverse City Beach Race will take place on Saturday, June 2 from 9-11 a.m. The fun obstacle course-themed 2K event, which will begin at the West End Volleyball Courts and proceed down West End beach and back, will challenge racers of all ages and skill levels with zany water-themed challenges and obstacles, such as the Squirt Gun Alley, Beach Ball Sand Pit, Pool Noodle Forest and Frisbee Challenge. Advance registration is $10 without a participant t-shirt or $25 with a participant t-shirt. Prizes and medals will be awarded, and all participants will be invited to a post-race awards show featuring free local ice cream and Northwoods Soda Root Beer Floats. The race will be held in partnership with the Traverse City March of Dimes, with proceeds benefiting that organization and the Great Lakes Aerial Art Project.

The Great Wakes Volleyball Tournament will be held throughout the day on Saturday, June 2. Entry cost for the tournament is $50 per doubles team. Prizes will be awarded to winning teams. Proceeds from the event will go toward a matching grant fund to upgrade the sand at the West End beach volleyball courts.

Headlining music acts for the Great Wakes Festival include acclaimed “one-man entertainment system” and champion beatboxer Heatbox, high-energy dance 8 piece band Funktion, reggae indie-rock soul band Roster McCabe, local high school bands Ratone and Motus Mixus, Garrett Borns Band, Northshore, One Hot Robot and “musical mad scientist” That 1 Guy. Roaming entertainment is a circus of fun from LED hula hoopers to fire twirlers and champion parkour urban gymnastics. Additional local and national acts will be announced in the coming weeks to fill the multiple stages including one being the Nauti-Cat on the water.

Festival hours will be 5-10 p.m. on Friday, June 1 and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday, June 2. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door and include spectator access to all festival tournaments, activities, music and events. Attendees 21+ will have access to a Michigan microbrew & wine tent on-site featuring award-winning Michigan beverages and pint/pour specials. Saturday, June 2 is Family Day during the day and will feature free festival admission from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with family-focused entertainment and events highlighted throughout the morning and afternoon. Festival tickets go on sale on Tuesday, May 1 and can be purchased online at This is a zero-waste, recycling-focused event, with free water featured on-site at the festival.

Complete ticket and festival information for the Great Wakes Festival can be found online at Interested sponsors, vendors, partners and participants can contact Porterhouse Productions at 231-499-4968 or for more information or to get involved.

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