A day at the lakes

Curtis, Manistique Lakes area offer variety of recreational opportunities

Fisherman return from an evening of fishing on Manistique Lake, or as its often called Big Manistique Lake. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — If you think the center of the Upper Peninsula is lacking in fun things to do, think again and consider taking a visit to the town of Curtis and the Manistique Lakes area.

Situated between Big Manistique Lake and South Manistique Lake, Curtis is surrounded by natural beauty and offers an abundance of entertaining events for visitors to enjoy this summer and fall.

Curtis is home to Erickson Center for the Arts, which, according to its website, has been described as “the heart of northern Michigan’s educational, cultural and recreational experiences.” The center is host not only to artist exhibitions, but also concerts, musicals, yoga, art classes and workshops.

“They have a beautiful art display of local artists that you can actually buy,” says Curtis Area Chamber of Commerce Office Manager Beth Nicholls. “There’s all kinds of stuff going on all the time there.”

Through August, ending Sept. 4, the Erickson Center is featuring “Visions Between the Lakes,” an exhibit showcasing the works of three Northern Exposure Featured Artists: Tracey Anderson, Ben Bohnsack and Carol Irving.

The Erickson Center of the Arts Waterfront Gallery & Gifts building, left, and the band shell are located just west of downtown Curtis at Saw-Wa-Quato and Main streets. (Photo courtesy of Velvet Green Creations)

Sept. 2, Labor Day weekend, the Erickson Center hosts “Art on the Lake,” one of the biggest events of the summer in the area. “They have over 40 juried art vendors in the park, and food vendors, beverage tents,” Nicholls said. “It’s just a really fun day.”

“Along with an incredible new building, the Erickson Center, the property also provides a park, band shelter, large landscaped grounds, walking trails and the Helen Newberry Joy Hospital Wellness Center,” the nonprofit organization’s website states.

During the warmer months, the lakes around Curtis are the bread and butter of recreational draw to the area. “The swimming and the boating here is just fantastic,” says Nicholls. “Big Manistique Lake is over 10,000 acres; you can actually get out in your boat and go out, there’s hardly any boats out here. It’s a pretty awesome thing not to be all crowded up when you’re boating, fishing, swimming, jet skiing, paddle boarding and kayaking.

“South Manistique Lake is just over 4,000 acres of water,” she continued. “Fishing is really big for walleye, perch, pike, both large- and smallmouth bass, and South Lake also has bluegill. And if you’re lucky enough you could catch a Muskie.”

For week-to-week fun this summer, be sure to catch the farmers market every Wednesday from 2 to 5 p.m. through the end of September. “Last year they had honey and some maple syrup, and all kinds of farm produce from corn (to) tomatoes, green beans (and) lettuce,” Nicholls said.

Oktoberfest in Curtis features a chamber sponsored U.P. craft beer tent. (Photo courtesy of Curtis Chamber of Commerce)

Summer isn’t the only time you can enjoy family fun in the Manistique Lakes area. To welcome the change of the seasons, the end of September brings the tradition of Oktoberfest, staged on Davis Street in downtown Curtis.

The chamber-sponsored event will feature a beer tent with U.P. craft beer, a roasted chicken dinner with a side offered by the Three Lakes Fireworks Committee, a 5K fun run, pie sales, art vendors and more.

Live music by Rough Boys and Cruz Control will play from noon to 8 p.m. Nicholls said the best thing about the event is that many visitors come to the area and “everybody (is) out and about and having a good time dancing.”

In terms of where to stay, Manistique Lakes area has plenty to offer. “There’s over 20 resorts, over 20 private cabins and probably 10 campgrounds just in the area,” Nicholls said.

Add that to the four local inns and motels, and you have plenty of variety in price and style to choose from, whether you want cozy comfort or forest-bathed relaxation during your visit.

Visitors and locals enjoy a music event at the Erickson Center for the Arts band shell. (Photo courtesy of Velvet Green Creations)

Rachel Oakley can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is roakley@miningjournal.net.