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Look Beyond the Big Pride Fests for a Memorable Michigan Road Trip

Sarah Bricker Hunt

“Big name” Pride Fests might grab more headlines, but small-town Prides dot the Michigan map from top to bottom, including areas where holding Pride events in 2023 is a courageous act, given the currently raging anti-LGBTQ+ political climate.

These smaller events deserve your support, and they offer a respite from crowded, large scale events. You’ll find drag queens sashaying, local music and food offerings, and unique perspectives from feisty, small-town activists who seem to harken back to the days when Pride Fests were acts of defiance. Enter: The Michigan Small-Town Pride Road Trip Guide. Load up the tank, go on a shopping spree for snacks like an unsupervised fifth-grader, crank up the tunes and hit the road.

Southeast Michigan

This lively corner of the Mitten offers three of the largest Prides in the state in June and July: Motor City Pride, Ferndale Pride and Hotter Than July. Look a little further, though, and you’ll find several events sprinkled throughout Oakland, Genesee, Wayne and Washtenaw Counties.

June 

Trenton, June 1 (5:30 p.m. Trenton City Hall - 2800 3rd St.)

Ypsilanti, June 2

Ortonville (“Abigail’s Pride”), June 3

Holly, June 10

Grosse Pointe, June 17

Flint, June 24

Berkley, June 25

August 

Royal Oak, Aug. 4 and 5

Ann Arbor, Aug. 5

Hazel Park, Aug. 13

Central Michigan

In addition to a fun Pride event on June 17 in Michigan’s capital city, Lansing, you’ll find events in the tiny towns of Lowell, east of Grand Rapids, and St. John’s, just north of Lansing. Sandwiched between Lansing and Kalamazoo, don’t miss Battle Creek’s annual event, which features an evening parade on July 21 and a family-friendly festival on July 22 at Leila Arboretum.

June 

Lowell, June 3

St. Johns, June 3

Battle Creek, July 20-23

Southwest Michigan

Head west to check out Grand Rapids’ big city Pride event, but consider worthwhile destinations beyond, too. Pride organizers in this part of the state have faced an onslaught of opposition in places like Holland and Allegan, where local Republican groups have pushed back against drag performances and LGBTQ+ reading materials in public libraries and schools. Shower these courageous groups with your support!

June 

Saugatuck/Douglas, June 1-5

Muskegon, - June 3

Kalamazoo, June 2-3

Grand Haven, June 10

Grand Rapids, June 17

Benton Harbor, June 24

Holland, June 24

August 

Allegan, Aug. 4-5

North of Muskegon and the Upper Peninsula

Events north of Muskegon are harder to come by, and that’s why these destinations are perfect for a far-flung road trip. In Traverse City and Mackinac Island, you’ll find the latest dates on the Pride Fest calendar, making them the perfect way to wrap up a summer of fun celebrating Michigan’s newfound notoriety as a queer-friendly blue state driven by grassroots activism.

June

Bay City, - June 24

Big Rapids, June 25

September

Mackinac Island, Sept. 14-17

Traverse City, Sept. 27 - Oct. 1

View the 2023 Pride Source Michigan Pride Festival map at bit.ly/42o0YK2 and the 2023 Michigan Pride Festival Calendar at pridesource.com/article/2023pridecalendar .
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