Chili Cook Off Suttons Bay Yeti Fest

The bears may be hibernating, but Sleeping Bear Dunes doesn’t sleep in the winter.

The region offers winter festivals, organized hikes, and outdoor gatherings to sip and savor those snow days and shake off the February blahs as you search for the Yeti, sample homemade chili, and bask in brighter days.

Suttons Bay Yeti Festival

YetiThe legendary Yeti lives on in Suttons Bay, as the community gathers every February to celebrate this mythical winter character.

The Suttons Bay Yeti Fest runs 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Feb. 17 in downtown Suttons Bay. Yeti Central is the headquarters for festivities at VI Grill event space adjacent to the bar.

This fun day celebrates the ape-like creature believed to live in the Himalayan mountains in Asia. In Western culture, the Yeti is our abominable snowman. You can even buy cute gear or snap a photo with Yeti at the festival.

Billed as “The Best Yeti Festival This Side of the Yeti Fest Children's Activities at the LibraryHimalayas,” the festival is sponsored by the Suttons Bay Chamber of Commerce. Why Yeti?

“What it boils down to is that the Northern Michigan winter is long, and although a quieter January serves as a nice rest period after the holidays, February is often when we go, ‘'s still winter!’” said Emily Worden, Yeti Fest co-chair.

“Yeti Fest came about as a unique family-friendly event that celebrates both winter and all the people who make the Suttons Bay community so special.” 

The festival offers a variety of free family fun throughout the village, as well as some lighthearted competition in the chili cook-off contest.

Chili cook-off awards are given out for People’s Choice & Blind Taste Test. Organizers anticipate 13-15 chili sampling stations.

“We spread the chili vendors out throughout town to keep people moving,” Worden said.  

Activities include:

  • Yeti Exploration and activities for children 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Suttons Bay-Bingham District Library
  • Yeti Cup Hockey Tournament 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Ice Rink Park
  • Sledding 12 – 2 p.m. behind the Suttons Bay-Bingham District Library
  • Face painting and hot chocolate 12 – 2 p.m. at The Center
  • Hot Dogs 12 – 2 p.m. provided by the Suttons Bay Bingham Fire Department in front of Northern Latitudes
  • Kid’s Scavenger Hunt for Yeti and Interactive Digital Scavenger Hunt 12 – 4:30 p.m.
  • Bonfire Pits 12 4 p.m.
  • FREE Screening of “Abominable” at 1 p.m. at the Bay Theatre
  • Chili Cook-off 2 – 4 p.m. throughout the Village. Includes a variety of chilis prepared by area restaurants. Tickets can be purchased online here or at Yeti Central
  • Live music at Yeti Central 

Yeti Fest MerchandiseThe festivities wrap up with an award ceremony at 5 p.m. at Yeti Central with prizes awarded for the scavenger hunt and chili cook-off. Visit Yeti Central for music, maps, merchandise, and day-of chili tickets.

A variety of activities will take place throughout the village all within walking distance. The hockey tournament and sledding are weather-dependent.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed,” Worden said of the weather. “It’s a chance to get out in mid-winter and see familiar faces, get out in the sunshine, get moving, and celebrate everything that makes Suttons Bay and Yeti Fest special.”

Glen Lake Chili Cook-off

Glen LakeChili Cook OffThe Glen Arbor community gathers for Glen Lake Chili Cook-off on February 17 with its popular Chili Cook-off and Perch Fishing Contest. Sample chili noon-3 p.m. or until it runs out on the deck of Boonedocks.

This battle of the bowls features chili from area restaurants and businesses. Locals and first-timers also can enter.

Admission is $10 per person, which includes unlimited chili samples. $5 for kids ages 6-12 and seniors 70+; kids under 6 enter for free.

Vote for your favorite chili, enjoy music and meet new and old friends. Proceeds from the event go to Glen Lake School Scholarships and local charities.

Sleeping Bear Dunes events

Explore the woods, learn to identify trees, and look for birds that winter in Michigan. Listen to the sounds of nature on a winter hike or cross-country ski outing in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The park has organized activities every Saturday through March 16. Check the Sleeping Bear calendar for registration details. ActGeology Hikeivities are free with a valid park entrance pass.

  • Intro to Birding Hike 10-11:30 a.m. February 24. Gather at the Phillip A. Hart Visitor Center for an introduction. The group will caravan to Otter Creek Trail. Pre-registration is required.
  • Lake Michigan Stroll 10-11:30 a.m. March 9 or an Evening Hike from 7-8:30 p.m. departing from Port Oneida Heritage Center. In the morning, awaken your five senses as you explore the shores of Lake Michigan on this ranger-led trek. Preregistration is required for the morning hike. No reservations for the evening hike.  
  • Tree Identification Hike 10-11:30 a.m. March 16 followed by Tree Discovery Walk and Craft 1-3 p.m. Hike requires registration. Both programs start at the visitor center for an introduction.

Other Winter in the Dunes events include a Candlelight Hike 6-8 p.m. February 17 at The Dune Climb and Maple Sugaring Days 10 a.m.-3 p.m. March 2-3 at Dechow Farm and Olsen Farm. 

Visit the Sleeping Bear Birding Trail for more locations for winter birding in and around Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Learn more about the region’s lodging accommodations to book your next stay and explore upcoming Glen Arbor area events.


Marla R. Miller is a travel writer and content marketing writer. Visit her website at