Western Marquette County offers beauty, history, family-friendly events

A dog wades in Lake Michigamme as the sun sets. (Journal photo by Justin Marietti)

MARQUETTE — Whether it’s art or history, camping, fishing, trail-riding, antique cars, horses, parades, live music, pig roasts or all of the above — chances are, Marquette County’s far west end has something for locals and visitors alike.

Including Champion, Michigamme and Republic townships, as well as many surrounding lakes and communities, unique events are complemented by stunning landscapes and numerous recreation opportunities.

Multiple events in Champion and Michigamme this weekend — featuring ponies, antique cars and fresh local produce and crafts — will offer families a chance to make some memories.

The annual U.P. National Pony Pull starts at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Champion Horsepulling grounds. With free admission, spectators can witness this historic competition that also includes treats for children. Gravedoni Street Eats will be on site.


The annual Antique Car Show/Log Cabin Days will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Michigamme Museum. The event includes free museum tours and live music. No registration is required and the event is free of charge. Contact 906-323-6608 for more information.

Crowds sit and enjoy the fireworks over Lake Michigamme held in previous years. Including Champion, Michigamme and Republic townships, as well as many surrounding lakes and communities, unique events are complemented by stunning landscapes and numerous recreation opportunities. (Journal photo by Justin Marietti)

And the very first annual Michigamme Township Farmer’s market will take place at Michigamme Library from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Michigamme native Virginia Olson, a member of the community’s Downtown Development Authority, helped organize the event.

“We were very surprised and amazed at the number of vendors that registered, and so we have a large variety of items like fresh produce, fresh eggs, homemade jams and syrups, homemade jewelry, woodcrafters, leather, metal, blown glass, candles and soaps, even homemade paper crafts. So I’m very pleased,” Olson said. “We’re really excited to be holding this.”

The Michigamme DDA is also fundraising for a building next to the Michigamme Museum to house the township’s historic steam-pump fire engine, which will be on display Sunday at the car show.

Olson, whose grandfather was fire chief when the old engine arrived, said every effort to preserve the buildings and history of the area is being made by dedicated volunteers who run the museum and the library, among other efforts.

Crowds sit and enjoy the fireworks over Lake Michigamme. (Journal photo by Justin Marietti)

“I’m very sentimental about our little town, maybe it’s because I grew up here,” Olson said. “Michigamme’s got lots of projects going and I believe all in a positive light. … We’re all volunteers, even our first responders. … We all come together, it’s the old-fashioned way I guess.”

Michigamme is also known for its fireworks display in the park on July 3, with live music before and after.

“It’s a beautiful display. I think we have the best fireworks around,” Olson said.

The Michigamme Moonshine Art Gallery, founded and owned by Friederike Roach, originally from Germany, has original permanent art by about 35 local artists year-round.

Currently featured until July 15 is accomplished water color painter Bill Hamilton.

Meegan Flannery’s expressionistic oil paintings of vivid wildlife will be exhibited July 16-Sept. 16.

Flannery’s artist reception will be held from 3-6 p.m. July 21 free of charge, with refreshments and a concert.

The professional Superior String Alliance chamber orchestra, made up of master teachers at the nearby children’s music camp, will offer a free concert, with a theme of international folklore.

The spacious handicap-accessible gallery tends to stun people who go for the first time, Roach said.

“Most people coming here for the first time … are totally surprised when they see about the quality and high-caliber of art,” Roach said. “I would say most artists show as well in museums nationally and internationally, so we have a high quality of art, and … mostly local artists.”

And new this year in Humboldt Township, the Junction Jam 2017 will feature 11 bands, free tent camping, free shuttle, vendors, food and drink specials, crafts, games, prizes and a bonfire. The event will be held at Junction 95 Tavern & Grill starting at noon Aug 25-26. Call 906-339-4195 for more information.


• U.P. National Pony Pull, 11 a.m. Saturday, June 24 at Champion Horsepulling grounds

• Farmer’s Market at Michigamme Library 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 24-25

• 15th annual Antique Car Show/Log Cabin Days in Michigamme 12-4 p.m. June 25

• Fireworks, music in the Michigamme Township Park July 3

• Parade, floats, games and food vendors in Michigamme Park July 4

• 27th annual Republic Sportsman’s Club Fishing Derby, July 21-23

• Pig roast at the pavilion at Michigamme Park, 4 p.m. August 12

• Junction Jam 2017 at Junction 95 Tavern & Grill in Humboldt Township Aug 25-26


Heading south, the 27th annual Republic Sportsman’s Club Fishing Derby, held July 21-23, will appeal to kids and grown-ups alike, with cash prizes for various age categories, live music, a parade and beer tent. The Republic Fire Department will hold a duck race on the river July 23 following the derby. For more information, go online to https://republicmichigan.com/sportsmans-club or call 906-376-2456.

Republic Township office manager Lori Burton said the derby is always fun, especially for kids, with more vendors this year and plenty of room for camping.

The township’s new Northern Lights Campground opened Memorial Day weekend, with 23 sites for RVs and tents, water and electric hookups, cable TV, and wifi coming soon.

A sign hand-carved by John Mykkanen with two black bears greets campers as they enter.

Cost is $20 for RVs and $5 for tents.

“It’s our first year, you know, we’re still working out the kinks, and we’re still learning,” Burton said. “So we didn’t want to charge people an arm and a leg.”

Paid for with the help of grant funds, the public campground is situated on the Michigamme River and features paved trails, fishing, hiking, and is walking distance to the Iron Ore Heritage trailhead, as well as the beach.


Lake Michigamme, with 95 miles of shoreline, 27 islands and more than 4,300 acres of water, offers multiple beaches, campgrounds and excellent fishing.

The lake is best known for walleye, muskie, and northern pike, with trout introduced as well, according to the Michigan DNR.

The Peshekee River, which flows into Lake Michigamme just west of Champion, is a favorite of canoers and kayakers, as is the Michigamme River, which flows out of the lake to the south.

There are many private and state park camping opportunities in the area, including Beaufort Lake State Forest Campground, located one and a half miles southeast of Three Lakes on U.S. 41; Van Riper State Park, on the east end of Lake Michigamme; and Michigamme Shores Campground on the north shore. Craig Lake State Park, the most remote wilderness park in the state, located about 15 miles west of Champion, also offers rustic cabins for rent.

For hikers, there are developed hiking trails in Van Riper State Park, the McCormick Wilderness, Craig Lake State Park, as well as the North Country Trail, a cross-country trail from New York to North Dakota, which passes through the area.

Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is mwardell@miningjournal.net.


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