Tip-Up Town USA,Houghton Lake

Tip-Up Town, USA

Michigan’s Longest Running Winter Festival

If you are looking for some Michigan mid-winter merriment, TIP-UP TOWN USA will not a disappoint.

For the past 71 years, folks and families from all over the state and beyond have converged on Houghton Lake in late January for what started as a small get together on the ice among fishermen, and is now the area’s biggest and most talked about winter traditions.

Spanning across two weekends (this year, January 22 – 23 and January 29), the festival kicks off with a parade, and is packed with snowy shenanigans and just plain fun for all ages.

“We get about 10,000 people between the two weekends and we work hard to create interactive and engaging events and entertainment for all,” says Jay Jacobs, Executive Director of Houghton Lake Chamber of Commerce.

For the snowmobilers and ice-fanatics, there is plenty to love. The event features snowmobile drag racing, radar runs, and an antique snowmobile display. There is also a Side-By Side race.

Tip-Up Town USA,Houghton Lake

Tip-Up Town USA,Houghton Lake

Tip-Up Town USA,Houghton Lake

For the kids, the ice slide is a big draw, along with the Family Fun Tent featuring live entertainment, a photo booth, face painting, games and more. Kids sixth grade and younger get into the festival free of charge.

If you love ice fishing, true to the festivals origins and the area in general, it’s quite a big deal. “We run a large ice fishing competition with prizes. It’s free to enter, and it’s all in fun, but it does get a little competitive!” says Jacobs.

The festival also features the infamous Polar Bear Dip. With temperatures typically in the teens or twenties – or lower – and the frigid water, adventurous souls plunge in, just for the thrill of it and for bragging rights.

 

Tip-Up Town USA,Houghton Lake

Tip-Up Town USA,Houghton Lake

Tip-Up Town USA,Houghton Lake

Tip-Up Town USA,Houghton Lake

Carnival rides, live entertainment including some of the state’s best bands, an adult beverage tent, food and merchandise vendors round out the offering.

“It’s really about getting outside, getting together with friends and family and making memories,” said Jacobs. “We are proud of our town and our people, and this is a way to kind of show that off.”

To that end, a Tip Up Town Mayor, Marshall, Queen and Hometown Hero are named each year. To be named the Mayor and Marshall, one must compete in a series of tom foolery skits and more. The Queen must represent a charitable organization and participate in an interview regarding that charity as part of the selection process. The Hometown Hero is a veteran.

“We’re proud of our local veterans. Each one has a story and varied past, and giving them recognition during this time-honored festival is special for everyone.”

So, no matter what the temperature or weather is, mark your calendar to head to Houghton for some frosty family fun this year.

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