Reimagined and all revved up, the beloved St. Ignace Car Show returns in June, plus a new series of cruises throughout the eastern U.P.
Perhaps there’s no better testament to how deeply rooted classic car culture is in St. Ignace than the way community leaders and car aficionados have rallied to revive and reimagine their annual summer car show.
For 45 years, the St. Ignace Car Show has taken place over the last weekend of June—a staple in the car world since its inception. But last year, the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau was forced to cancel the event amid the ongoing pandemic.
Earlier this year, organizers planned a pivot to a weekend of car cruises through the eastern U.P. that would prioritize safety and avoid another potential cancelation. However, in light of new loosened guidelines from the CDC and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Visitors Bureau announced last week that in addition to keeping the aforementioned cruises, the beloved St. Ignace Car Show weekend will return this June, including the closure of State Street on Saturday, June 26.
“We had originally planned on a modified ‘Cruise Show’ weekend for 2021 during the winter months when the pandemic was still a major concern,” organizers said. “This year, we will still host a series of car cruises throughout the Eastern Upper Peninsula on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, along with the Muscle on the Mac Bridge Cruise Saturday night. Thursday’s traditional ‘cruise night,’ drive-in movie and the Down Memory Lane Parade will not return in 2021.”
Social distancing and mask wearing will still be strongly encouraged, despite loosened mandates at the state and federal level. Event organizers ask that attendees be safe, kind, respectful, patient and use common sense.
The car show schedule is as follows:
Thursday-Friday, June 24 & 25: Packet pickup Thursday 12-5 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce.
Saturday, June 26: State Street between Spruce Street and Marquette Street will be closed from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the St. Ignace Car Show. The majority of vendors and the featured vehicle lot will be located at Little Bear East Arena. Registration will be onsite at the St. Ignace Marina lawn from 7 a.m. to noon. Judges will be onsite until approximately 4 p.m. Fireworks at dusk.
Sunday, June 27: Awards ceremony at 10 a.m. at Little Bear East Arena.
In addition to the traditional car show, four scheduled cruises will take place that weekend with designated stops, special deals and discounts, and points of interest along the way. Cruise “captains” will lead the fun runs, and “motor medics” will be available to help with any auto troubles that may arise. Cruise destinations include: Paradise, Hessel/Cedarville and Naubinway, and the beloved Muscle on the Mac Bridge Cruise is set to return this year. (See details for each cruise below).
“Car culture is in St. Ignace’s blood, but cruise culture is, too,” says Quincy Ranville, events director at the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau. “We’re excited here at the bureau. Historically, the car show wasn’t very beneficial to all of the other towns in the area, so we’re happy to share the wealth and celebrate what makes the U.P. so great.”
The St. Ignace Cup awards ceremony is slated to take place, Sunday, June 27 at 10 a.m. The ceremony includes Top 10 awards presented by Detroit manufacturer EATON Detroit Spring, specialty cash prize awards and the Pfaff Designs St. Ignace Cup presented by Amsoil with a $5,000 first-place prize. Runners up will make up the “St. Ignace Six” and will each receive $500.
The Pfaff Designs St. Ignace Cup is the only car show peer-judged competition in the country, and it’s also the country’s largest cash prize for an outdoor show. Organizers say the award was created to highlight the finest vehicles from the Great Lakes region and across the country.
The majority of the competing cars will be selected prior to the show, with 5-10 vehicles selected at the show to round out the field. All 25-30 cars will be displayed in a special feature area on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be judged during the street show. If you have a vehicle you would like to enter, send 3-4 quality photos including under-hood, interior, trunk and under-car to [email protected], or mail to: St. Ignace Visitors Bureau, 6 Spring St., Ste. 100, St. Ignace, MI 49781. For more information, visit stignace.com/st-ignace-cup.
This is the second year hot rod designer and builder Murray Pfaff of Pfaff Designs will be sharing his talent, knowledge, expertise in design and industry contacts with the St. Ignace Car Show event team.
“I want to help ensure that the St. Ignace Cup becomes a treasured award for automotive enthusiasts across the country for years to come,” Pfaff says. “St. Ignace is the ‘big show with small-town charm.’ Showcasing beautiful vehicles in Michigan’s beautiful U.P. is a winning formula for all involved.”
Those interested in registering for this year’s event can do so on the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau website or in person. (Registration is $30 online or $35 on-site.) Event registration includes guided cruises with cruise captains, motor medics, and special deals and discounts along the way; participation in the awards ceremony; inclusion in the downtown street show; live music, a vendor village and featured vehicle lot; bridge fare north and south for Muscle on the Mac; a commemorative gift; and more.
For the most up-to-date information on the car show weekend, including downloadable car cruise maps and more details on the St. Ignace Cup, visit stignace.com.
Northern Paradise Cruise – Thursday, June 24, 10 a.m. – Cruise through the heart of the Eastern U.P. and make a stop in Paradise. Continue on to scenic Whitefish Point to tour the lighthouse and bird sanctuary. Save time for a stop at Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
Woodland Dunes Cruise, Presented by Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum – Friday, June 25, 10 a.m. – Head west along US-2 and take in the picturesque sand dunes on your way to the quaint town of Naubinway. Visit the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum and stop for a traditional pasty along the way. Kids need a break? Stop at the Mystery Spot, the Deer Ranch and the GarLyn Zoo.
North Huron Heritage Cruise, Presented by Les Cheneaux Distillers – Friday, June 25, 4 p.m. – Take a drive east to the Les Cheneaux Islands. Known for their dedication to antique wooden boats (there’s a boat building school and the annual Les Cheneaux Antique Wooden Boat Show), these small islands off the shore of Cedarville and Hessel offer a picturesque backdrop as well as protection from strong winds. Stop for a bite at Les Cheneaux Distillers and pop in the Les Cheneaux Historical Museum and Maritime Museum.
Muscle on the Mac Bridge Cruise, Presented by GR Auto Group – Saturday, June 26, 8 p.m. – This cruise is the highlight of the weekend! Join fellow car enthusiasts for a sunset cruise across The Mighty Mac and try to break the Mackinac Bridge record for highest horsepower on the bridge at once. Staging will take place at 7 p.m. at Little Bear East Arena and the cruise will begin at 8 p.m. Fireworks to follow. Schedule is subject to change. Registrants will receive updates and a “before you go” newsletter with key information prior to the event weekend.