January ushers in a blizzard of Northern Michigan events, featuring snow season festivals around Northern Michigan. Here’s your guide to a month of fun from Traverse city to the Upper Peninsula:
Mackinaw City Winter Fest, January 13-15
It doesn’t get more vintage Northern Michigan than this: Snow sculpting competition, sleigh rides, ice skating, euchre tournament, ice fishing tournament and an outhouse race—all in site of Northern Michigan’s Big Mac bridge. mackinawchamber.com
East Jordan Sno-Blast, January 14-15
The 30th annual everything-to-do-with-snow festival includes shanty races (outhouse races but with fishing shanties, who knew?) on Main Street, crowning ceremonies for the Belle of the Blizzard and the Winter Knight, an antique snowmobile show and snowmobile drag races. ejchamber.org
Wineries Winter Warm Up, January 15
Come out of hibernation for comfort food and wine tasting at the seven wineries of Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City. wineriesofoldmission.com
The Kalkaska Winterfest, January 15 & 16
What else would you expect from a town that spells its name just two K’s away from Alaska? Yep, every year for 45 years, Kalakska has played host to the Midwest International Sled Dog Race—the oldest existing sled dog race in the lower 48. While the race is the centerpiece of this weekend of winter fun, events also include dog sled rides, skijoring and outhouse races, craft show, disc golf tournament and a mountain bike winter challenge ride. kalkaskawinterfest.com
Traverse City Downtown Chili Cook-Off, January 29Minerva’s Restaurant & Bar returns to defend its "People’s Choice Award" against 15 other local restaurants at the 17th Annual Downtown Chili Cook-Off on January 29 at the Park Place Dome in downtown Traverse City. The popular annual event attracts over 1,000 attendees each year, who come to sample a variety of award-winning chilies from area eateries and vote for their favorite recipes. Minerva’s took home the coveted "People’s Choice Award" for its White Chicken Chili in 2010. Participating restaurants, who typically serve 30 to 40 gallons of each chili throughout the event, compete for prizes in eight different categories in addition to the overall "People’s Choice Award": 1-Alarm, 2-Alarm, 3-Alarm, White, Vegetarian, No Bean, Seafood and Ethnic.
This year’s Downtown Traverse City Chili Cook-Off runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Dome. Individual bowls can be purchased for $3 each; a sampler of 8 is $8. All proceeds benefit downtown Traverse City community events, including Friday Night Live, holiday activities and the annual Halloween walk.For more information, visit downtowntc.com or call 231-922-2050—Beth Milligan.
Bay Harbor Ice and Spice Cook-Off, January 21–23
Bay Harbor Ice and Spice Cook-Off The ice sculptures are cool and chili is hot, but the real spice comes from the mSnow Show aerial acrobatic group and their wicked snowboard tricks. bayharbor.com/icefestival.
Tip Up Town in Houghton Lake, January 22–24, 29–31
Ice fishing, ice motorcycle racing, ice softball, iced turkeys used as bowling balls … you get the idea. Tip-up-townusa.com.
Heikinpaiva in Hancock, January 29
The everything-Nordic festival includes two crowd favorites: wife-carrying and boot throwing. pasty.com/heikki.