2017 Water Festival

What: 7th Annual Benzie County Water Festival

When: February 14th – 18th

Believe it or not, the 7th annual Benzie County Water Festival begins tomorrow!

We began this journey back in March 2011, and we’re still in awe of the community support that we get year after year. We are a 501c3 nonprofit, and we do our best to create quality programming throughout the year that is free to the public. Want to help us bring talented musicians, special guests, and entertaining activities to Benzie County? Make a donation for only $5. We whole-heartedly thank you, as it makes our work quite a bit easier and gives a nice boost to the team morale to know that we’ve got your continued support.

This year, the Benzie County Water Festival’s theme is “MI Water,” relating water issues that are ongoing throughout the state of Michigan. From how the Dakota Access Pipeline could affect our own Line 5 Pipeline in the Mackinac Straits to Nestle/Ice Mountain’s application to take even more water out of the ground in Osceola County, from the unending problems with Flint’s drinking water to the perennial news of shut-offs for those who cannot pay their bills in Detroit, it seems – at least on the surface – that there are many discouraging things going on in our Great Lakes State. But here’s the good news: there are good people working very hard on these issues, and the 2017 Benzie County Water Festival will present actionable ways for you to get involved and make an impact! Moreover, there are many good things going on that we sometimes forget to acknowledge and celebrate, so we plan to do this, also!

We would like to use this newsletter to promote the great events that we have going on this week, so check out the details below!

Dinner & Discussion

Tuesday, February 14th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Grow Benzie
Dinner will be delicious – made from scratch, courtesy of the Northern Michigan Culinary Arts Community. A panel discussion will be facilitated by Ed Hoogterp, Benzie County’s new drain commissioner and former president of the Crystal Lake & Watershed Association. The panelists will include: John Ransom (Benzie Conservation District), Liz Kirkwood (executive director of FLOW), Melissa Mays (founder of Flint-based Water You Fighting For), and Holly Bird (Standing Rock Legal Council/Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Tribal Council). Suggested donation for dinner is $10, however, no one will be turned away. For more information, visit the Facebook event.

Water-Themed Story Time

Friday, February 17th from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Benzie Shores District Library
Miss Kaitlin hosts water-themed kids activities for ages 3-5. All are invited to come hear stories and make crafts at the Benzie Shores District Library on the Main Street of Frankfort! For more information, visit the Facebook event.

The Feral Cats

Friday, February 17th from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Iron Fish Distillery
Stop out to see The Feral Cats – Phil Coryell’s mad harmonica skills, Monte Klein on guitar, and Professor Dave Grimes on bass – sure to heat things up! Plus, in addition to their usual drink list, the bartenders will be mixing up Blueberry Backcast cocktails (house-made blueberry syrup, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and Iron Fish Michigan Wheat Vodka ), with proceeds benefiting our future Water Festival events! For more information, visit the Facebook event.

Betsie Bay Frozen 5k

Saturday, February 18th from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Elberta-Frankfort
Celebrating water in its wintry form is on the agenda for Saturday. Registration for the seventh annual Betsie Bay Frozen 5k begins at 8:30 a.m. at the American Legion Hall on Main Street in Frankfort. Runners will be shuttled to the 10 a.m. start of the race at the scenic Elberta lookout and then will run back to downtown Frankfort along the beautiful Betsie Bay. An awards ceremony will follow; all runners get a shirt and a medal with their registration fee, while top male and female finishers in each age group get a special prize. Additionally, with the help of more than 50 community business sponsors, close to $4,000 in raffled prizes will be given out. The 5k is open to runners and walkers of all ages and is dog friendly. It’s a great way to get the whole family out and about during the snowy February days while supporting great causes – proceeds will benefit local community initiatives, including our scholarship fund and future Benzie County Water Festivals. Register online for only $20 by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, February 15, or for $25 in-person the day of the race. For more information, visit the Facebook event.

Take A Kid Ice Fishing

Saturday, February 18th from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Betsie Bay
Fishing poles and bait will be provided, as well as ice shanties, so that kids can learn how to fish through the ice. Volunteers will help to teach the basics. There are no entry fees and no licenses required for kids or adults. All ages are welcome. No kid will be turned away, but all should be accompanied by a parent or adult and dressed for freezing temperatures. Weather dependent; check the Facebook event for updates. For more information, visit the Facebook event.

Water Sermons

Sunday, February 19th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Benzie County churches
Closing out the weekend’s festivities on Sunday morning, a few religious affiliations will be talking about the importance of water in scripture, from baptism to walking on water to turning water into wine. Specifically, Reverand Dinah Haag of the First Congregational Church of Frankfort and Pastor Chrysanne Timm of Advent Lutheran Church plan to speak on water as a topic. For more information, visit the Facebook event.


There is still work to be done, money to be raised, and people to be made aware of the festival. If you know someone who wants more information, or someone who you think would enjoy the festival, please consider sending them to our fabulous website, where they can subscribe to our newsletter, make a donation, and keep up on all the latest news. Also, please consider “liking” us on Facebook and sending “invites” to your friends, so that they like us as well.

The Benzie County Water Festival is put on by the Benzie Community Water Council. BCWC is always looking for more sponsors and volunteers. If you are interested in helping this year, send an email to aubreyannparker@gmail.com and for more information, visit www.Water-Festival.org or find us at facebook.com/BenzieCountyWaterFestival on Facebook.

Once again, we thank you for your support, and we look forward to seeing everyone at the festival events this week!

-The Water Festival Board

The Benzie County Water Festival seeks to attract, entertain, educate, and activate individuals and groups within the community. This is a family-oriented, community-centered event that has fosters education, engagement, and networking in a rare and valuable way.

The first Benzie County Water Festival in March 2011 was very successful, with more than 300 attendees during a weekend of events that featured world-class Michigan musicians, speakers, and workshops. “Come Softly, Stand Firmly: Understanding the responsibilities of being the most beautiful place in America” was the theme of the second festival in April 2012, a one-day event where attendance exceeded that of the previous year, thanks to great programming that featured three panels of local experts who addressed the state of Benzie County’s watersheds, as well as the economic impact of entrepreneurial business in our region. “Under The Surface,” the theme for the third festival in April 2013 included panels on fracking in Michigan and the dredging of Betsie Bay, as well as a keynote address about NMC’s Water Studies Institute; also that year, the festival was able to broaden its outreach to more young people with a Water Science Fair by 50 Benzie Central High School science students. In April 2014, the fourth festival’s theme was “Keeping Our Waters Blue,” with an emphasis on engaging the public in the stewardship of the Great Lakes, responding to the global freshwater crisis, and cultivating a vibrant and sustainable local culture.

Seeking to emulate the precedent set by the past four years, this year’s festival will again feature world-class Michigan musicians, panel discussions, and speeches from water luminaries, interactive multimedia projects and presentations, visual art, children’s activities, and connections to local campaigns and projects. Through our fundraising efforts, we will work hard to ensure that the Benzie County Water Festival is free and open to the public, however donations are encouraged and will help to fund future events.

BCWC is always looking for more sponsors and volunteers. If you are interested in helping, send an email to aubreyannparker@gmail.com and for more information, visit www.Water-Festival.org or find us at facebook.com/BenzieCountyWaterFestival on Facebook.

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