As far as Northern Michigan entertainment is concerned, the National Cherry Festival and the Traverse City Film Festival tend to get all the attention this time of year. But what’s a person to do after they’ve been to “the big city” for their great films and cherry fix?

We have the answer. Check out this rundown of the dates and links to information on the most popular and “under-the-radar” things to do in Leelanau County in July. 

By now, you probably heard that the National Cherry Festival (July 5th-12th) is celebrating its 88th year next month.  It’s also the 10th Anniversary for the Traverse City Film Festival  (July 29th-August 3rd), which just released its 2014 movie lineup and schedule for the week July 29th-August 3rd. 

Whether you’re looking for alternative entertainment during your summer vacation or maybe just something to do that‘s a little closer to home base, you’ll find plenty happening in and around the Sleeping Bear Dunes next month. Here are five great options to get you started:


Cedar Polka Fest

July 3rd-6th

This Polish-American Leelanau Peninsula community kicks up its heels at a four-day party with hearty food, drink and continuous polka music and dancing. Check out the website below for admission prices for adults. Ages 12 and under are free when accompanied by parent. Flag raising ceremony is on Thursday at 5 p.m., parade on Saturday at noon and Polish mass on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. Check out the Cedar Polka Fest website for more information.


Leelanau Farmers Markets

June through September, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

No matter where your weekend travels take you this summer, you’re never more than a 20-minute drive from some kind of farmers market happening in and around the Sleeping Bear Dunes. From Empire to Glen Arbor and all along the M22 corridor, you’ll find fresh Leelanau Peninsula produce and local products on sale every Saturday and Sunday throughout the growing season. For a complete list of locations, check out the website of the Leelanau Farmers Markets, a non-profit organization founded with the goal of improving the marketing of local farm products and preserving county farmland.


Running Bear 5K Run/Walk

July 22nd

The whole family can participate and enjoy a great day of fun and prizes at the Glen Arbor Women’s Club 8th Annual Running Bear 5K Run/Walk & 1/2 Mile Kids’ Run happening in July. Registration is possible online or on race day from 7:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.  The Run/Walk begins in front of Cherry Republic at 9:00 a.m. The Kids’ Run is at 9:05 a.m. Prizes are awarded for the top times in the overall male and female categories along with 1st and 2nd place for men and women, boys and girls in nine other age categories.

An “after run celebration” will offer bystanders and participants lots of food and a prize drawing for over 50 raffle prizes. The 1/2 Mile Kids’ Run has participants receiving a ribbon and a coupon for an ice cream cone from Riverside Ice Cream.  Cost for the 5K is $15 ($18 the day of the Run) and $5 for the Kids’ Run.

For more information, or to preregister, check or call 231-334-7363.

Manitou Music Festival, Annual Dune Climb Concert

July 13th, 7 p.m. — 9 p.m. 

Imagine a beautiful summer’s evening at the foot of the Dune Climb in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, hundreds of families enjoying their pre-concert picnics and then a musical program provided by artists of national stature: this is the magical mixture which has filled audiences with warm memories every year since the first Dune Climb concert in 1998. 

Scheduled to entertaining the audience this year is The Moxie Strings (formerly String Cheese), an electrifying band that combines the musical talents of fiddler Diana Ladio and cellist Alison Lynn. With their feel-good melodies and foot stomping, rock-influenced rhythms, these young women put a fresh spin on Celtic and Americana music.

There is no charge for the concert; however, a National Park pass is required for parking. Free shuttle busses will provide transportation to overflow parking lots. Bring chairs or blankets to sit on. Some folding chairs are also provided in front of the stage. In the event of rain, the show will go on at the Glen Arbor Town Hall.

Check out the Glen Arbor Arts Association website for more information.