Community pride remains focus of 64th annual Harbor Days

Barb Mosher, Contributing Writer

Review file photo

The popular Grande Parade will highlight a full slate of activities planned Saturday, Aug. 3 as part of this year’s Harbor Days celebration in Elk Rapids.


ELK RAPIDS – Doreen McGuire sees Elk Rapids Harbor Days as an opportunity for every member of the community to show off their village.

“It’s a wonderful community and a wonderful event and a time to showcase all Elk Rapids has to offer,” said McGuire, now in her second year as Harbor Days executive director.

The 64th annual festival begins Wednesday, July 31and runs through Saturday, Aug. 3, with most activities taking place in or around Veterans Memorial Park and the downtown area. What began as a one-day event to raise funds to construct the village’s harbor is now four days of family-friendly fun for all ages, celebrating the waterside community and the people, businesses, and organizations that make it flourish all year long.

“Something’s been working right for 64 years,” McGuire said of the festival that relies heavily on volunteers and contributions. “It’s a lot of work with a lot of moving parts, but it always comes together.”

She said ideally her committee chairpersons need 70-80 volunteers to pull off an ever-growing schedule of activities that starts with a senior luncheon and bingo on Wednesday and concludes with the phenomenal Zambelli International fireworks display Saturday night. In between, festival goers can look forward to a range of activities including live music, the Arnold Amusements carnival, a cherry bake-off, car show, beverage tents, an arts and crafts show, a pet show, rubber swan race, family talent show, fireman’s waterball contest, sand sculpture, and the wildly popular Grande Parade led by this year’s Grand Marshal, Bob Jones.

An array of local restaurant fare and food truck options will satisfy even the fussiest palates. For those wanting to burn off the extra calories, there will be opportunities for an evening paddle with Paddle Antrim, pickleball lessons, laser tag, a hole-in-one golf tournament, corn hole, and yoga on the beach – in addition to the longstanding Paddlebuoy races and the 5K/10K Harborun.

McGuire is especially excited about Friday’s “Celebrate Kids Day” which will delight children with new activities including STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) components and puppet shows, along with traditional favorites: the diaper derby, toddler trot, penny scramble, and craft making.

“There are going to be some really fun new and creative games, too,” McGuire said. “It’s been totally revamped.”

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