Ludington Area Jaycees Freedom Festival Provides a Very Festive Fourth

July 3 & 4

Patriotism is alive and well here in Ludington, Michigan, as demonstrated in the annual Freedom Festival, held every year since 1874. Sponsored by the Ludington Area Jaycees, this event is one of the few great July 4th festivals still in existence in Michigan.

Children and Pet Parade

The fun begins July 3rd around 6pm with the Children's and Pet Parade at the south end of Ferry Street in downtown Ludington. Local children decorate their wagons or bikes, and even try to dress the family pet in red, white, and blue. Categories are Best Group Entry, Most Original, Most Patriotic, and Best Use of Pet, with prizes awarded to the winner of each. All participants receive a goody bag. It's a great kick-off to the holiday, and so much fun to watch. Line-up is at 6pm at the corner of Ferry and Loomis Streets with the parade heading east to Waterfront Park.

Freedom Festival Grand Parade

The Freedom Festival Grand Parade gets underway July 4th at 2pm and features floats, bands, politicians, local residents, and of course, the Scottville Clown Band. Thousands line Ludington Avenue to watch this hometown parade as they march downtown from Madison Street to Lakeshore Drive, all sharing the warmth and excitement of our nation's birthday. If you would like to enter a float into the parade, please go to for more information.

Freedom Festival 1-Mile Dash

A new event in 2019 is this 1-Mile Fun Run where runners are invited to run the Grand Parade route prior to the parade step off to help raise money for the evenings fireworks.

Entry is $25 prior to June 24th. Late entry online and on race day is $30. Entry includes a tech shirt and a finisher's medal. Prizes will be awarded to top male and female runners. Tshirts are only guaranteed to those who register prior to June 24th. Remaining shirts will be available first come/first serve at packet pickup/registration on race day. Packet pickup and race day registration will take place at Leveaux Park- 900 E. Ludington Ave. from 12:30-1:30pm and the race will begin at 1:35pm. Water and frozen treats will be waiting for runners at the end of their one mile sprint. All race proceeds will benefit the Fireworks Fund.

To register, visit

Fireworks at Dusk

What would July 4th be without fireworks, and Ludington doesn't disappoint its residents or visitors. On the evening of July 4th starting around dusk (approximately 10:30pm), pick your favorite "viewing" site, such as Stearns Beach or Waterfront Park, and enjoy the show. Basically, anywhere you see water, you'll see the fireworks. Most people make an evening of it, arriving early to picnic or let the kids enjoy their sparklers. The colorful 20-minute display delights the crowd watching on land and from boats. It's the perfect ending to this annual celebration. Click here for more information on other firework displays in the area.

Fireworks Sponsorships

The Ludington Area Jaycees are currently seeking sponsorships and donations for their Freedom Festival Fireworks which light up Lake Michigan each 4th of July.

The Freedom Festival brings tens of thousands of people to the beautiful Lake Michigan coastal city of Ludington and into local businesses operating there. The event is 100% funded by donations from local businesses, organizations, and individuals and this year's fireworks budget is $25,000. The Jaycees hold two annual fundraisers for the fireworks fund: The Crazy Bartender Contest in April and the Light Up the Night Music Series in October/November but still need donations and sponsorships to make up the difference.

For more information on donations, visit or e-mail.

West Shore Art Fair

West Shore Art Fair
Photo courtesy of Ludington Area Center for the Arts

Held in conjunction with Freedom Festival activities, the West Shore Art Fair is the first weekend in July (July 7 & 8, 2018) in Rotary Park. The juried fine art and fine craft fair features over 100 artists in an open air setting. Approximately six weeks later in the same location, the Gold Coast Artisan Fair comes to town, featuring more crafts.

Check out Ludington Lodging for places to stay during the Freedom Festival and Ludington Restaurants for great places to eat.

More Summer Events in Ludington...

For more activities & attractions, check out these additional links for Things to Do in West Michigan:

West Michigan Map
Ludington Activities & Things to Do -- Play on a beautiful beach, take a tour at Historic White Pine Village, or explore the barn quilt trail, murals or sculptures in the county--Ludington offers many fun things to do for the entire family!
Have Fun in Manistee, Michigan -- Explore Manistee's historic downtown district and riverwalk, hike the Manistee National Forest, canoe on the Manistee River, and more.
Hamlin Lake -- Just 4 miles north of Ludington, Hamlin Lake is a great destination for boating, fishing and climbing dunes! The Hamlin Lake shoreline is also part of the Ludington State Park.
Silver Lake Sand Dunes -- Visiting the Silver Lake Sand Dunes makes for a terrific vacation because you can take your off-road vehicle for a spin on the scenic sand dunes overlooking Lake Michigan and Silver Lake.
Things to Do in Pentwater, Michigan -- Nothing is quite like the quaint, artsy, harbortown village of Pentwater. Don't miss the popular Charles Mears State Park beach on Pentwater's Lake Michigan shoreline.
Lots of Activities in Scottville, Michigan -- Explore the Riverside Park along the National Scenic Pere Marquette River.
Canoeing or Fishing on the Pere Marquette River -- Many boat liveries offer canoe rentals.
Also, check out West Michigan Guides and our locally produced directory for our largest lists of Things to Do in West Michigan.

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Last Updated: 01-21-2021 12:00 PM ID: 174