Soo Locks open March 25

The calendar tells us that spring has sprung, but if you live in the eastern half of the country, you know we’ve been living through something of a Modern Ice Age. In the coming weeks, an annual rite of passage (literally!) will take place and Sault Ste. Marie is offering ring-side seats. Come see a spectacular battle as Great Lakes cargo ships and ice breakers take on the forces of nature on the St. Marys River. 

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Photo Credit: US Army Corps of Engineers

On March 25, 2014 the Soo Locks will open for the season, connecting Lake Superior to the rest of the Great Lakes. That, however, will require vessels to conquer a barricade in the form of a 45-mile river system that is covered in a continuous sheet of ice.  Beyond the river, most Lake Superior ports are still packed with ice.  Duluth, Minnesota has experienced one of its top 4 worst winters in history.

US Army Corp 2

Photo Credit: US Army Corps of Engineers

If you’ve never seen an ice breaker at work; or have never seen a snow-encrusted freighter; or have always wanted to join the celebration of welcoming the first ship through the Locks – this is your year. From 9am – 3pm on March 25, the Soo Locks Visitors Center will be open with hot coffee and a chance to see the Soo Locks in rare form. Traditionally, this is the day we will welcome the first ship through the Locks, but the exact day and time of arrival is always unknown until a day or so before. Monitor our Facebook page for updates on the exact time of arrival.

Let’s be honest – you’ve had enough of shoveling and ice and freezing temperatures. Come help us cheer on the icebreakers and send old man winter packing!

Thank you “Macker Backers” for a great event!

Ask almost anyone who has visited the Upper Peninsula and you’ll hear stories of friendly, down-to-earth people who are warm and welcoming. It’s only when you live in one of those communities that you understand that generosity is also part of the genetic make-up. Case in point: the Gus Macker event held in July. From big dollar donors to in-kind vendors, an entire community caught “Macker fever” and the result was a great event with 108 participating teams and $3,300 raised for worthwhile charities.

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We take this opportunity to thank these major sponsors for their contributions. They are as follows:

  • Sault Downtown Development Authority (Gold Level)
  • Sault Convention and Visitors Bureau (Gold Level)
  • Kewadin Casino & Conventions Center (Gold Level)
  • Subway (Gold Level)
  • Wal Mart (Silver Level)
  • McDonalds (Bronze Level)
  • Smith & Company Realty (Bronze Level)
  • The Soo Corner Store (Bronze Level)
  • Soo Motors (Bronze Level)
  • War Memorial Hospital (Bronze Level)
  • Sault Men’s Basketball (Copper Level)
  • Applebee’s Restaurant (Copper Level)
  • Arfstrom’s Pharmacies (Copper Level)
  • Cloverland Electric (Copper Level)
  • Cooper Dental Services (Copper Level)
  • Harmony Health Foods (Copper Level)
  • Kinross Lions Club (Copper Level)
  • Old Mission Bank (Copper Level)
  • Rodenroth Motors (Copper Level)
  • Soo Co-Op Credit Union (Copper Level)
  • West Pier Apartments (Copper Level)
  • MBank (Copper Level)
  • Allure Dance Company (Copper Level)
  • Super Valu (Copper Level)

Cash donations were also received from: Antler’s Restaurant, Best Western, Bordertown Chiropractic, Buffalo Wild Wings, Checkered Flag Party Store, Chippewa Motors Inc., Edward Jones (Weber/Osterhout), Elks Youth Committee, Federal Employees Credit Union, Frank’s Place, Fudge du Locke, H & R Block, Holiday Inn Express, Island Books & Crafts, Judge Elizabeth Church, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Lockview Restaurant, Marchetti Distributing, Moloney’s Alley, Palace Saloon, Pampered Chef (DuVall), Parker’s Ace Hardware, Precision Edge, Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie, Siesel Eye Care, and Soo Locks Lodge & Suites.

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We hand out honorable “Macker Mention”  for those who went above and beyond:

  • Marchetti Distributing
  • Newberry Bottling
  • Parker Ace Hardware
  • Blue Wizard Entertainment
  • US Air Force
  • 1537th Michigan Nation Guard
  • M & C Water Systems
  • Malette Construction
  • National Office Products
  • Graham Trucking
  • Sault Ste. Marie Parks & Recreation/Water Department
  • Smith Sanitation
  • Grooves Music
  • Spartan Distributors (Toro Tractors)
  • Sault Auxilary Police
  • Coca Cola Bottling Company of MI
  • Sault Printing
  • Eagle Radio
  • Sovereign Communication
  • City Engineering Department

Like all events, there are those people who pitch in and help in ways that can’t adequately be described. We’re calling them “Macker Attackers” and we couldn’t have done it without them.

  • Jack Horka
  • Pam Pomeroy
  • Dewey Baldwin
  • Dean Auger & Staff
  • Pat Godin
  • Glen Bathrick
  • Bob Moraski
  • Laura & Joey Shawhan
  • Deanna Sutton Kreski
  • Mariah Goos
  • Jan Bailey & Medical Mash
  • City Manager Spencer Nebel
  • Dan Harris and the “Madrigal Macker Masters”
  • Mayor Anthony and Margaret Bosbous
  • Bill Anderson
  • County Inmates Work Crews (Charlie & Darryl)
  • Young Professionals
  • WOW (Working on Wellness)
  • Tony Haller – Sault Athletic Department
  • Sault Football Volunteers
  • Sault Girls Basketball Volunteers
  • Rudyard Baseball Volunteers
  • Jr. Firehawks
  • The Gus Macker Committee

Last but absolutely not least, we give a special “shout out” to Dennis Brooks, the committee chairperson and tireless champion for this event. Thanks, Dennis!

Finally, it pleases us to tell you that planning is already underway for the 2014 Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball tourney in Sault Ste. Mare. Mark your calendar to play b-ball in the shadow of freighters July 19-20, 2014. Monitor our events page for details in the coming months.

 

Packing a picnic? Here’s your table with a view.

DSC_0042 (2)What is it about eating outdoors that feels so … liberating? Breathing fresh air and surrounded by nature – maybe it rouses our more primitive side. It’s a slice of Americana – packing the picnic basket and searching for the perfect spot. And everyone’s version of the perfect picnic spot is different. That’s why we’re offering up four fabulous picnic places for your next Eastern Upper Peninsula picnic.

NATURE IS THE STAR

We’re starting west of Sault Ste. Marie at Big Pines Picnic Area in Hiawatha National Forest. Perched on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior, find picnic tables, grills, and plenty of giant red and white pines. The beach below is lovely, sandy stretch perfect for a long walk or an agate search. Big Pines has ample parking, rustic toilets, and an abundance of fresh forest to explore. This area is roughly 30 minutes west of Sault Ste. Marie and, despite its perfect setting, is often underused, which means you can enjoy a serene, beautiful lunch or dinner.

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LANDMARK LOCATION

The area surrounding Point Iroquois Lighthouse is perfect for a picnic. For those dreaming of a beach picnic, this is the perfect place. Spread your blanket in the shadow of the lighthouse and enjoy! If you’d prefer to keep sand out of the equation, take advantage of one of the benches on the boardwalk – a beautiful, winding path that makes its way from the light to the beach. After your appetite is sated, explore the lighthouse, climb the stairs to the top of the tower, and check out the museum that tells the story of the lightkeeper’s life. Operated by the US Forest Service, Point Iroquois has lots of parking and, even better, flush toilets! It is located just west of Brimley.

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FOOD & FREIGHTERS

Back in Sault Ste. Marie, one local park offers one-of-a-kind entertainment. Rotary Island is a City of Sault Ste. Marie park accessed by causeway. This spot on the St. Marys River affords great views of Sugar Island, the Sugar Island Ferry, and all river traffic – including the mighty freighters that pass by on a regular basis. Launch a kayak from one end of the park or let the kids try their luck at the attached kid’s fishing pond. Park your car nearby and take your picnic to one of the many tables. Use a grill or bring take-out from a local favorite only a stone’s throw away: Clyde’s Drive-In. Rotary Island park also has playground equipment and pit toilets.

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A FAMILY FAVORITE

With a kid-friendly beach, volleyball courts, playground equipment, picnic pavilion, and a basketball court – it’s hard to keep the kids focused on the picnic when you come to Sherman Park. This city property, located on Sault Ste. Marie’s west side, has ample parking, flush toilets, and plenty to keep every member of the family occupied. Also located on the St. Marys River, boat nerds will get a great view. Picnic tables can be found in the sun or in the shade at Sherman Park.

These four fabulous picnic places have one important thing in common: all parks are free of charge. So, in the words of Yogi Bear, “Hey there, Boo Boo. Let’s get us a pic-a-nic basket!”

 

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The Wonders of Wednesday: Markets and Music

If you visit Sault Ste. Marie only on a weekend, you might be missing one of the best days of the week. There’s a special something in the air on Wednesday nights in “the Soo” – especially Downtown.  While the attractions that make the city irresistible – the Soo Locks, a variety of museums, historic churches, boat cruises and more – are still on the menu, two special offerings can be found only on Wednesday evenings.

DSC_2502 Farmer's Market

It starts with the Farmer’s Market, located at the corner of Portage Avenue and Ashmun Street. From 4-7pm, local farmers share the bounty of their gardens and fields throughout the summer season. From arugula to zucchini, those interested in locally-grown goods will have plenty of options. But it’s more than just vegetables and fruit. Fresh fish, poultry, eggs, baked goodies, canned jams, pickles and more…and the list goes on and on.

There are also non-edibles for sale. For instance, when we mention the word “hoop” – you probably expect to hear about produce grown in a hoop house, but at the Sault Farmer’s Market, you can also find HOOLA HOOPS! (And jewelry, and hand-carved items, and so much more.)

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It’s a good thing the Farmer’s Market closes at 7pm, because that’s when you’ll need to be at the Soo Locks for the weekly “Music in the Park” series. A different act takes the stage each week and the styles of music vary dramatically from week to week. Tomorrow, for instance, the Petoskey Steel Drum Band will perform for what is typically the largest audience of the season. Last week, a trio shared romantic crooner classics and future performances will include Da’ Yoopers, a local rock group, and a banjo band. How’s that for variety?

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Bring a lawn chair, then kick back and listen to the music while watching freighters, Coast Guard vessels, and other watercraft make their way through the Locks nearby. Just when you think a perfect summer evening can’t get any better – did I mention this is free?

Have you caught Wednesday fever? The only known cure is to plan your Sault Ste. Marie visit to include what some call “Hump Day” but we simply refer to it as Wonderful Wednesday! See you Downtown!

History comes to life during performances on Water Street

I don’t know about you, but I’ve sometimes perused museum exhibits or historic homes and felt like I should tip-toe through the location. Don’t make any noise. No sudden moves. It’s probably self-induced, but I feel like I’m in a library and someone might “shush” me at any moment. I’ll go one step further and say sometimes my attention span can be a little, shall we say, limited.

All of this is my not-very-brief way of saying that performances make museums and historic places come alive for me. Every summer, thousands of visitors feel the same when they visit the John Johnston House on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-2pm. That’s when local singer/songwriters Dave Stanaway and Susan Askwith give small, intimate concerts and bring history to life with their voices and their guitars. The performances are included in the price of admission to the historic homes and are offered through July and August.

Susan Askwith & Dave Stanaway

Susan Askwith & Dave Stanaway

Of course, you can have the best of all worlds. You can tour the homes on Historic Water Street at your leisure and combine that with a Tuesday or Thursday concert. These important buildings – John Johnston house, Bishop Baraga house, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft house and the Kemp Coal Office – have distinctly different exhibits and each tells a unique story. The homes are open 7 days per week from Noon-5pm through Labor Day. The price of admission grants you access to the four buildings and is $3 for adults, $2 for children, $8 for a family, and $15 for a season pass. 

 For more information on events and activities visit Sault Ste. Marie.

 

 

 

Tall Ships sail on St. Mary’s River

During a six-day period later this month, as many as eight Tall Ships are expected to sail the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie, including transit through the famous Soo Locks.

Like a parade passing by our front door, these spectacular vessels will travel from a variety of locations between the dates of July 19 and July 25 en route to a gathering in Duluth, MN. Visitors lucky enough to stake out a spot at Alford Park, the Soo Locks observation platforms or dozens of other prime viewing points in the area will get quite a show.

Flagship Niagara

Flagship Niagara

At least three ships are expected to stay in the area on the Canadian side for three-days: the Flagship Niagara, the Pride of Baltimore II, and the Privateer Lynx. These vessels are part of a Tall Ships 1812 Tour happening throughout Ontario. (That’s one of the perks of visiting a border town – you can enjoy events on both sides of the bridge!) The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario event is July 19-21.

Pride of Baltimore II

Pride of Baltimore II

As for the additional Tall Ships, we unfortunately can’t pinpoint the exact date or time they’ll pass Sault Ste. Marie. But we know this for a fact – while waiting to see a Tall Ship, you’re certain to see tugboats, barges, lake freighters, and a variety of other fascinating boats that will keep the waterways hopping and very watchable.

Enter Sault Ste. Marie contest and win cash!

Gone are the days whvideo contest photo 2013en videotaping your favorite summer vacation involved a heavy camera of questionable quality and actual tapes. The word “videotaping” hardly even applies anymore. Instead, many of us have a digital video camera – either as a feature on a smart phone or as part of our digital camera.

What is the best part of the evolution of video? We think it is YOUR ability to enter contests, like this one that will focus on capturing your best day or favorite activity in Sault Ste. Marie.

Levideo via cell phonet’s face it – the advent of the Internet has illustrated how fun, kooky, and downright creative everyday people can be. Who needs a millionaire producer or a carefully-honed script? When people are having fun in a beautiful destination like Sault Ste. Marie – compelling video is only the press of a button away.

The Sault Area Convention & Visitors Bureau wants you to be involved at several levels. Not only can you submit up to 5 videos for the contest, but you also get to help in the voting process by lending your “like” to entries of your choosing on the “I Love Sault Ste. Marie” facebook page. Contest entries will be uploaded by the participant to their own YouTube or Facebook account and then linked to the “I Love Sault Ste. Marie” Facebook page to be eligible for any of the prizes.

Let’s talk about prizes – specifically $750 for first place, $250 for three 2nd place finishers, and $100 for two 3rd place winners. It’s like having someone pay for your camera and your fun!

The hardest part of this video contest? Figuring out which of these great activities you’ll focus on for your video. But don’t forget – video content must focus on those activities within the Sault Ste. Marie city limits. Remember – you can submit up to 5, so try your hand (or your camera) on several!

Be sure to read the rules for entry and then immerse yourself in Sault Ste. Marie. We can’t wait to see you on video!

Oh Canada! Crossing the Border at Sault Ste. Marie

There’s something exciting about exploring another country, which makes the Sault Ste. Marie area a traveler’s paradise. It’s a short ride across a beautiful bridge to a foreign land and all the intrigue that comes with it. Visitors will enjoy the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, the hockey culture, and the hustle and bustle of the city we share our name with on the northern side of the border.

courtesy of MDOT

courtesy of MDOT

Crossing the international border does require some planning. There are a variety of documents that will meet the requirements of U.S. Customs and Immigration – for most people, it will be a passport but other options also exist. When entering Canada, officials will ask to see a passport (or other approved documentation), inquire about your purpose for visiting Canada and ask a few basic questions. Upon return to the U.S., travelers must show passport (or other approved documentation) and will be asked a few questions (where do you live? what did you purchase? how long were you in Canada?) before being allowed to re-enter the U.S.

Although it may sound like a hassle – it really isn’t. Over two million crossings occur each year, including trips made by hundreds of thousands of visitors making their first trek across the nearly three-mile span.

Wait times used to be a mystery to travelers, but no more. Want to see how long you might wait on the bridge at a given time? Visit the International Bridge website to view webcams updated every 15 minutes and a description of current wait times at both the U.S. and Canadian crossing.

For more information on Sault Ste. Marie day trips and activities visit Sault Ste Marie.

 

Take a Sault Ste. Marie virtual tour

It’s a big decision – where to go on vacation. Where do you get good information? You want to make a choice that everyone will enjoy. But you can’t break the bank, either.

Recommendations are good and websites have a lot of information, but sometimes seeing is believing – which is why we’ve put together a “virtual tour” of Sault Ste. Marie. Block out the noise, stop thinking about work and dedicate 11 minutes to imagining yourself at the Soo Locks, the kids playing putt-putt golf, and the money you’ll win at Kewadin Casino. Keep an eye out for smiles, laughter, clean waters, and friendly people. You’ll find them on the video….and on your vacation! Come on up and see us!

Now that you’ve taken the tour, get details and logistics at these websites:

Sault Ste. Marie Convention & Visitors Bureau

Soo Locks Boat Tours

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

Museum Ship Valley Camp, Tower of HIstory & River of History Museum

For more details on area attractions, call the Sault CVB at (800) MI-SAULT or (906) 632-3366.

Take a walk through history

Historic Water Street brochure

Spring has sprung and summer is knocking at the door – there’s no better time to take a walk through history. Or, to be more accurate, a walk down Historic Water Street in Sault Ste. Marie.

The story of Michigan’s oldest city is told through 30 interpretive panels along your walk. During a half-mile stroll, learn about early Native fishing techniques, French explorers, the evolution of the Soo Locks, and fires that once devastated Water Street. Beginning June 28, the historic homes of Water Street are also open for touring all summer long. Costumed guides, storytellers and performers offer special programs during the summer months.

historic home performance

The view is fantastic, the walk is easy and at your own pace, and the information is fascinating – there’s better way to spend a sunny afternoon.

We should mention, of course, that this is a free excursion, but you may want to have a few bucks for an ice cream cone or a cold drink – all found within access of Historic Water Street.

Pick up the brochure (pictured above) for more details or visit the website: www.historicwaterstreet.org