Join Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary for a star-spangled celebration at the Thunder Bay Maritime Festival on the 4th of July in Alpena, Michigan.  To commemorate America’s birthday and Thunder Bay’s rich maritime heritage, the festival offers live entertainment, fun and educational kids’ activities, cardboard boat races, helicopter rides, food, demonstrations, exhibits, displays, and more. General admission is free. The event takes place from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, 500 W. Fletcher Street, Alpena.

Live musicians, including rising stars The Accidentals, will entertain throughout the day. The Accidentals’ recent hit single, “Michigan and Again” has made them a Great Lakes favorite and Yahoo Music’s Top 10 Bands to Watch in 2017. “We are thrilled to bring The Accidentals to the 2017 Thunder Bay Maritime Festival on the heels of the band signing a record deal with Sony. This is a really fun and talented Michigan band whose music reflects the spirit of the Great Lakes,” said Jean Prevo, festival coordinator.

The musical line-up also includes guitarist and vocalist Jake Allen, who inspires audiences with spectacular solo acoustic performances, and Charles Madison, an accomplished live performer and local Alpena favorite. Musical entertainment continues throughout the day with festival favorite and roving storyteller, Genot Picor. Picor’s stories, songs, and dances from the time of the French Voyageurs have thrilled audiences from the Great Lakes region to the East Coast. This program is funded in part by the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For the seventh year in a row, the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary hosts the Thunder Bay Cardboard Boat Regatta. At 2:30 pm, watch participants race colorful cardboard boats of their own construction across the Thunder Bay River in Alpena. Cardboard boats will be judged for design, seaworthiness, and sailors’ team spirit. Registration is still open at for those who would like to participate in the Regatta.

The waterfront will be bustling with festivities including interactive displays, food vendors and an opportunity to check out the Maritime Heritage Trail. Activities are planned for children of all ages including face painting, rope making, and remotely controlled underwater robots. Giant inflatable play stations will be available for a fee, including a wet and wild waterslide.

Back again this year, sightseeing helicopter rides are available for a fee. See the shallow shipwrecks of Thunder Bay from a new and exciting perspective, where entire wreck sites can be seen through the clear waters of Lake Huron. The glass-bottom boat Lady Michigan, offers yet another way to see the well-preserved shipwrecks of Thunder Bay with two-hour tours of Lake Huron’s Shipwreck Alley. Boarding takes place along the Thunder Bay River behind the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center.

Inside the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, visitors can check out “Exploring the Shipwreck Century,” the 10,000 square foot main exhibit. This engaging, interactive exhibit includes a replica of a Great Lakes schooner battling a Lake Huron storm and a full-scale shipwreck for visitors to explore. Also check out NOAA’s Science on a Sphere®, an animated globe that shows dynamic, animated images of the atmosphere, oceans, and land of the planets. Only 100 of these exhibits exist around the world, and one is right here in Alpena!

Food from local vendors will be available throughout the day including the Rogers City Kiwanis Club’s famous whitefish sandwiches. Other vendors will offer a variety of food, snacks, and ice cream.

As a warm up for the 4th of July celebration, the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Dork Brothers will stage the Battle of the Paddles stand-up paddle board and kayak race Monday afternoon, July 3rd. The 3k race starts at Rotary Island behind the NOAA building on the Thunder Bay River at 5:30pm, registration begins at 4:00pm.  Along with the race, there will be a craft beer tasting event on the roof deck of the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center 4:30-8:00pm. Live music and Austin Brothers beer will be featured at one of Alpena’s best summer outdoor venues. Entrance is free to this event, and beer available for purchase.

The 4,300 square-mile Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary works to protect the Great Lakes and their rich history. Lake Huron’s cold, fresh water preserves nearly 200 historic shipwrecks in and around the sanctuary. Through research, education, and community involvement, the sanctuary and its partners ensure that future generations can enjoy Thunder Bay’s irreplaceable underwater treasures.

The sanctuary’s visitor center, the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, is free and open year round. The center is a popular destination for residents and visitors of all ages, allowing the public to experience and appreciate the estimated 200 shipwrecks in and around Thunder Bay in an area known as “Shipwreck Alley”. Visitors can fish, paddle, snorkel, or dive the wrecks in the sanctuary. Visit the sanctuary at and at

The Thunder Bay Maritime Festival is sponsored by Lappan Agency, Inc.; Alpena Agency, Inc.; Alpena Shipwreck Tours; Alpena Convention & Visitors Bureau; Alpena Power Company; Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan; First Federal of Northern Michigan; Michigan Humanities Council; Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union; Banner Realty; Bay Athletic Club; Besser Credit Union; Boldrey, Senchuk, Rouleau & Williams, CPAs; Century 21 Crow Realty; Chemical Bank; Decorative Panels International, Inc;, LeFave Pharmacy & Compounding; Meijer-Alpena; Northland Area Federal Credit Union; Plowman’s Collision; Ramada Alpena; Rogers City Kiwanis; Stephen’s Men’s Wear; Thunder Bay Electric; and Wolf Family Dentistry.


Entertainment Schedule:
12:30    Jake Allen
1:00      The Accidentals
3:00      Charles Madison