Birthday Bash to be held in downtown Grayling

Event celebrating community’s 150th anniversary to include live music and costume contest
A Birthday Bash celebrating Grayling’s 150th anniversary – an event that will feature live music, food, and a costume contest, according to organizers – is slated for Saturday, September 17, on Michigan Avenue in downtown Grayling.
“The Grayling Heritage 150th Committee and Grayling Main Street have been working in partnership to plan and execute a birthday party for the Grayling community to celebrate the sesquicentennial anniversary for the city. Scheduled for September 17 in downtown Grayling, plans are in place for a live concert downtown along with food vendors and family friendly activities,” according to Grayling Main Street officials.
Jack Pettyjohn of the Grayling Heritage Committee said organizers opted for a celebration similar to the Grayling Main Street block parties held earlier this year in June and August. The June block party featured a clock dedication ceremony to help kick off the community’s sesquicentennial.
“That’s kind of what we’re trying to do is build it up into a bigger block party,” Pettyjohn said.
Pettyjohn said the committee wanted to have the Birthday Bash around homecoming so people returning to the community for the homecoming festivities could also participate in the sesquicentennial event.
“The Birthday Bash is intentionally slated to occur during Grayling’s homecoming weekend, knowing that community members will be returning from afar to enjoy the football game and a weekend back in their hometown,” according to Grayling Main Street officials.
“We are considering making this an annual event, along the lines of a founder’s festival, or a reincarnation of what used to be Milltown Festival,” said Jillian Tremonti, Executive Director of Grayling Main Street and member of the Grayling Heritage 150th Committee. “We know folks come back home around homecoming, and it’s always fun to have an excuse to come downtown and see old friends. Now we have something to celebrate!”
A day of live music – with no admission charges – will be the “main event” of the Birthday Bash, organizers said.
“Derek Boik will take the stage to start the afternoon at 3 p.m. playing his versions of ‘old school rock and roll’ until 5 p.m. He’ll be followed by Oh Brother Big Sister, the fantastic brother and sister duo of Penny Podjaske-Pippo and Radel Rosin. Oh Brother Big Sister covers the musical spectrum with entrancing harmonies and ingenious musical arrangements. They’ll be taking the stage from 5:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Closing out the evening will be MotorCity Memories Band, performing from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. MotorCity Memories Band is a group of seasoned musicians whose number one goal is to create a fun and upbeat entertaining atmosphere that brings people together to enjoy music from the ‘50s to the ‘80s,” according to Grayling Main Street officials. 
The Grayling Heritage Committee will be conducting a costume contest during the Birthday Bash event “with awards for the top three best costumes that honor Grayling’s history,” organizers said.
“Starting in 1872, Grayling has historically spanned plenty of different notable fashions and trends through the years, along with notable industries taking a stronghold. Folks in costumes will be judged by a secret committee, with the winners brought up on stage and announced in between Oh Brother Big Sister’s set and MotorCity Memories Band taking the stage,” event organizers said.
The site of the Birthday Bash will also feature food options.
“Joining in on the fun will be ManBear Meat Company, a locally owned specialty brat, sausage, and burger company with delicious homemade sides. They will be catering on site with food available for purchase by party-goers,” according to Grayling Main Street.
The Grayling Heritage Committee’s parade float will be displayed during the Birthday Bash.
“A custom built parade float, put together by volunteers on the Grayling Heritage 150th Committee, will be parked downtown for party-goers to inspect close up and take pictures. The float, sponsored by Matt LaFontaine Automotive, has been pulled in multiple parades this year, including Grayling’s Fourth of July parade and the AuSable River Festival parade,” according to Grayling Main Street. 
Pettyjohn said his family has been designing parade floats since the 1970s – including St. Patrick’s Day parade floats in Bay City – and he enjoyed being involved with the Grayling sesquicentennial float.
“The float’s been great. The first block party we had for the clock dedication, it was downtown,” Pettyjohn said.
Pettyjohn said they’ve changed the tree on the float multiple times and it will have a different boat on it – an antique AuSable River boat – for the Birthday Bash. The float will also be in the homecoming parade and the Christmas Walk parade later this year, he said.
“We’re just trying different things to keep using it,” Pettyjohn said.
“Other vendors and organizations will also be downtown, including a souvenir booth with specially designed commemorative items,” according to Grayling Main Street.
Event organizers said the Birthday Bash “is currently being sponsored by Matt LaFontaine Automotive, the Grayling Promotional Association, the Grayling Rotary Club, and the Grayling Hospital for Animals, and supported by the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce. Parties interested in sponsoring the event  or private donations can be made by contacting Grayling Main Street at or by donating at You can also visit Grayling Main Street’s Facebook page to find a donation link. Sponsorship packages are available for donations of $150 or more, and in-kind donations are welcome.”
As part of this year’s sesquicentennial, Grayling Heritage Committee members updated a book about local history – “An Introduction To The History Of The Grayling Area: The First Hundred Years” – and the new version is available for sale at local retailers.
“We had the original ‘First Hundred Years’ book digitally enhanced and reproduced and added about 40 pages entitled ‘The Last Fifty Years.’ It was printed on a high quality paper and cover stock with a color graphic designed by local student Madi Mara on the front cover. They are available at The Curator, Tip’n the Mitten, Paddle Hard, White Pine and Petals, North Country Corner, and AuSable Gifts,” said Paul Crandall of the Grayling Heritage Committee.
“We have sold out of our first printing and have a second printing available so that we can share the history of our wonderful community with more and more residents and visitors. We are very pleased with the interest in Grayling’s heritage,” Crandall said.

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

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