Les Cheneaux Antique Wooden Boat Show – Hessel MI

Days along lazy bodies of water, weekend sailing and sandy feet were important aspects of our life. When we began fulltime rving, we traded our sailboat for an RV and water for a highway. Yet we are still drawn to water like a magnet. Water is soothing, calming and can bring peace to your soul.

Les Cheneaux (channels) Islands are comprised of 36 sheltered islands in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Cottages dot many of these islands and boats are the primary source of transportation for many. The area has a rich history relating to boat building and repair. In fact, E. J. Mertaugh Boat Works in Hessel was the first Chris-Craft franchise in the U.S.

In our travels we not only enjoy the local attractions we also enjoy local festivals. While in St. Ignace MI we heard about the Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show. We decided to head north for the day to explore and enjoy the boat show. 2017 was the 40th year for the show and it did not disappoint. Although the wooden boats come from as far as Florida and California, many are local and still used in the channels of the Les Cheneaux Islands during the summer months.

Arriving at the show in Hessel, we were amazed at the number and variety of wooden boats. Sailboats, dinghies, canoes, large cruisers and more. Anchored away from the dock we saw a wooden tug boat; wish we could have gone aboard. Several boats were for sale and some looked like they just came from a day out on the water.

Like most festivals, in addition to the stars of the show, there was entertainment and food. The band playing while we were there was playing rock and roll. How Laurie wanted to dance. The food was typical fest food; we had street corn and grilled bratwurst sandwich. Luckily tables were set up for eating because after all the walking sitting was nice.

Before lunch we walked the various piers and after lunch we walked the shore where not only boats were on display but also art. It was called Festival of Arts and most was boating related. One artist made models of your boat, another made canoes and others had jewelry and paintings. With our small living space we have to be selective in our buying – so we purchased a hat.

We have known people with antique wooden boats yet to see so many in one place was amazing. We enjoyed our day at the show, was glad we had the chance to enjoy a local festival, and relive the grandeur of wooden boats of old.



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