Sturgis Fest – Michigan Week Sturgis – Dam Celebration

Sturgis Fest packs a lot of community fun into one week including:

  • Wednesday – Family Night at the Sturgis High School. Music downtown at Free Church Park.

  • Thursday – Bike Night with bands and food trucks.

  • Friday – Car Cruise In, Hispanic Celebration and the evening Electric Night Parade.

  • Saturday – sports tournaments and fireworks at dusk at Kirsch Municipal Airport.

Sturgis Fest roots go a long way back.

The Sturgis Fair: 1891 and 1892

In 1892 “The Sturgis Fair” booklet advertised it as the second annual fair Sept. 19 – Oct. 4, held in the vicinity of Nottawa and South streets. They built a grandstand for their unique kite shaped horse race track. It was fun while it lasted but Bob Hair wrote that a nation-wide depression and the more established fair in Centreville took it out.

Sturgis Dam Celebration: 1911 and 1916

Another festival came along, maybe the biggest and baddest Sturgis has ever seen – the 1911 Sturgis Dam Celebration. They had electricity and were proud of it. This was printed on an announcement of the celebration:

You are invited to attend the 1st annual DAM CELEBRATION at Sturgis Michigan

Oct. 11-12-13, 1911 on account of completion of the 3,000 h.p. electric power plant costing $250,000.00.

We have the Old St. Joe River Working for us now.

There are hundreds of photos and postcards of the 1911 celebration. The parade must have lasted for hours.

Even Vice President James S. Sherman came, arriving at the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot and driven through the crowds by Curtis Freeland and Frank Wait.

The title “Electric City” was born and in 1916 organizers recovered so as to hold a second Dam Celebration

Michigan Week Kick-off City: 1953-2009

There were likely other community celebrations over the years but Michigan Week became the next big deal. It began in 1953 and lasted until 2009 — 56 years.

Citizens of the year were named at a kick-off banquet. From 1961-1982 the Miss Sturgis pageant was a big part of the celebration. Early on the Michigan governor would arrive. He was treated like royalty and would wave in a parade before traveling on.

Sturgis Dam Days: 2010 and 2011

The name Sturgis Dam Days was used for a few years but the name changed to Sturgis Fest.

Sturgis Fest: 2012 – present

Sturgis Fest, a combination of other celebrations, started in 2012 and continues.

What do most of these festivals have in common? Community members and friends gathering for fun, food, music and a parade – an Electric Parade.