Be In the Know

Be In the Know. Sign up to have DesignDestinations delivered right to your inbox, weekly.

Venetian Festival in Saugatuck tops my list of fun things to do


 This scene makes me think of the title of Whoopi Goldberg’s  book,  “Is it just me or is it nuts, out there?”  Not sure she was referring to folks wearing day glo wigs and aiming high powered  squirt guns at each other, but it could.   It’s  Festival time in Michigan……and, yes, ” just a little bit nuts.”

Summer Festivals are a way of life in the  western part of lower Michigan.

The Cherry Festival. The Blueberry Festival. The Coast Guard Festival. Tulip Time Festival. The Seaway Festival.  I could go on and on.  Every little burg has one.

I’ve gone to a lot of them over the years with their fireworks, parades, and all the hoop-de-doo,  but my absolute all time favorite is the Venetian Festival in Saugatuck/Douglas.  (Click here to learn about pushing your fun button in   Saugatuck. )

Why?  It’s about as creative and fun as you can get.

The area itself is steeped in the arts, from the early days when Ox-Bow, the summer arts camp associated with the Institute of Art in Chicago was established on the south side of the Kalamazoo River.

Galleries,owners of B and B’s, fun lovers of all sizes and stripes have settled in this area, enjoying the liveliness.  There are a lot of good places to eat, plenty of waterside watering holes and a liberal, interesting year around population.

Makes sense that a Venetian Festival would be their idea of a good time.

According to Wikipedia, “Venetian Festivals  are based on carnival, or carnevale, the period just before Lent, as celebrated in the 17th century in Venice, Italy. Venetian festivals re-create the fantasy of the earlier events with food, costumes, masks, music, theater, juggling and other spectacles.

Saugatuck brings its own flavor to this centuries old tradition.

One of my favorites is the dingy race where boaters zip around to five destinations to determine who is the winner.  They do this with a bit of flair–see the silly costumes in photos –and with those big squirt guns.  I think they spend more time trying to gleefully ambush each other than make the circuit.



Winning isn’t the object.

And then there’s the boat parade.  Wow.  Folks decorate their boats with great displays of lights, making it fun for us gathered at the ends of docks to see.  Here are a few attempts at capturing them…… not sure my photography skills are up to it…..but I tried.


Fun for me is observing the variety of vessels out and about, or like the house boats, docked and settled in.
































And then…..the grand finale of any festival in the area–fireworks.

Mostly it is a great party in a beautiful setting. For me it isn’t a “destination.”  I call this part of the world home.  And I love it.

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Aug 6, 2012 Reply

    Great post Susan!!  Miss the fun for sure!!  Thanks for sharing what we missed . . .

  2. posted by
    Aug 6, 2012 Reply

    Susan, What a GREAT article!!  So glad you enjoyed Venetian Festival… It was hysterical! Great crowd too… Please let people know that for more info on the area log onto

  3. posted by
    Aug 7, 2012 Reply

    That last image is one that Turner might have captured beautifully on canvas!!
    Images of summer…………wow!

  4. posted by
    Aug 12, 2012 Reply

    Love this one, Susan – great photos, and there’s a sense of passion about your topic in the text. Nice. Thanks. 

    • posted by
      Aug 13, 2012 Reply

      Thanks, Kate.  I do love being on the water……and the creativity of the folks in Saugatuck is the best.  Appreciate your comment.  

  5. posted by
    Vietnam Tour Packages
    Aug 13, 2012 Reply

    Great photos! Especially that of the fireworks display. 🙂

  6. posted by
    Whether you‘re looking for stunning beaches, scenic world great natural wonder and cultural heritage, you‘re surely find it in Vietnam a vibrant Asian country.
    Feb 5, 2014 Reply

    It’s rather a awesome and handy item of details. I am happy which you simply embraced this convenient information about. You should stop us knowledgeable like that. Thank you spreading.

Leave a Reply