Sanctuary of the Great Lakes
Marine  |  Body  |  Soul

Check out the latest news from Alpena, Michigan

It's been a busy year for our favorite Great Lakes community. Within the past 12 months Alpena has welcomed four port-of-call visits from hundreds of passengers on the Yorktown cruise ship, waved to more than 1,000 motorcycle riders during the Michigan State H.O.G. Rally, and watched three of our favorite Alpena lakes shine on national television on the Outdoor Channel's professional bass fishing series Major League Fishing that filmed on Long Lake, Grand Lake and Hubbard Lake this past August. 

As the above picture suggests, this past summer was full of sunshine and warm breezes in your Sanctuary of the Great Lakes. But the fun doesn't end when the temps cool! We've been having an exciting winter thanks to consistent snow accumulation. Our trail systems are groomed for beautiful cross-country ski excursions through pristine forest, snowshoe enthusiasts are finding perfect conditions for trekking across the countryside, snowmobilers can ride all the way into the city and park at Fletcher Street Brewery, and ice on the lakes and rivers (nearly 2-ft. thick in some spots!) is giving icefishing fans a perfect winter.

As the ice begins to melt we are looking forward to the refreshing rejuvenation of the first crocus blooms. Springtime in Alpena is always a nice reminder that everything and everyone can have a fresh new start.

We hope you enjoy our first Sanctuary of the Great Lakes newsletter and look forward to staying in touch!



Mary Beth Stutzman


President & CEO, Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau 

Bundle Up and Get Outdoors!
Mary Beth talks over the basics of snowshoeing during this Inspiring Alpena segment on WBKB-TV.
Northeast Michigan is having a blast as winter comes to a close. Tough and hearty fans of winter have been enjoying one of the best snowfall accumulations in decades. Opportunities abound in and around Alpena for a last hurrah with your favorite winter sports:
  • Cross-country ski trails have been maintained by Thunder Bay Trails Association at Norway Ridge and Chippewa Hills Pathway.
  • Snowshoe enthusiasts love adventuring through Rockport State Park, an old limestone quarry featuring Lake Huron shoreline, inland sinkholes, and rugged trails through the woods.
  • Northern Lights Arena has hosted a number of hockey tournaments and continues to provide the community with open skate hours with skate rental available on site.  Check out their newest addition, Glow Skating!
sanc'tu-ar'y (sangk-choo-er-ee) n., pl -ies
1. A sacred place. 2. A place of refuge from stress, pressure, and anxiety. 3. Where one leaves their cares behind to embrace a place known for its serenity. 4. Alpena, Michigan.
Alpena Lakes Star on National Television Series
Pro bass angler Kevin VanDam catches a record number of bass out of Alpena lakes on Major League Fishing.
Our favorite lakes are being featured on national television as the first season of the Outdoor Channel's series Major League Fishing. Hubbard Lake, Long Lake, and Grand Lake snagged leading roles in the General Tire Summit Cup professional bass fishing tournament which was filmed in Alpena in August and is currently airing on the Outdoor Channel. Alpena welcomed 24 of the world's best professional bass anglers to town for a week-long tournament which was filmed and turned into a major television series that is now airing in front of millions of viewers across the United States. This was a first for our region and an exciting moment for everyone who loves Alpena's natural resources. Take a look at this great promotional commercial that aired during the show:
Pro Bass Angler Mike Iaconelli tours Alpena with Sasquatch.

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Did you know?
Spending time outdoors in nature is powerful medicine. Research documentation is piling up in the case for improving mental and physical health via time spent outdoors in green space. Studies show that as little as 30 minutes outside walking in nature improves test scores of children with ADHD, reduces symptoms of depression, and lowers perceived pain scores. What better place to get out in the emerald green than Alpena with more than 25 city and county parks to choose from and more than 100 miles of groomed trail systems! 

Hometown Tastes: Polish Paczki
This recipe is courtesy Sylvia Owens.


1 pkg. either fresh or dry yeast (dry preferred)
1/2 c. warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 pt. scalded milk
1/2 lb. half butter and half shortening
3 c. flour
1 c. sugar
6 eggs, well beaten
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
vanilla to taste
raisins or dates
flour to make thick dough (approx. 8 c.)

Combine warm water, yeast and 1 tsp. sugar; let dissolve. Pour scalded milk over butter-shortening combination and mix well. Combine to warm water and yeast mixture. Add 3 cups flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix well and let rise for 1 hour. Add the eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, vanilla and raisins. If dates are used, do not add them until shaping the paczkis.


Add flour to make a thick dough which will drop free of the spoon (do not get discouraged, just keep adding adding and mixing). Let rise for 1 hour. Knead lightly and shape into balls, approximately 1 inch across. (If dates are used, this is the place). Let rise until they have doubled in size.


Drop in hot fat in kettle or French frier. It is best to make a trial test to determine the proper temperature of the fat. Too hot fat will brown them quickly on the outside, but they will be undercooked on the inside.


With extended Polish ancestry across the Northeast Michigan region paczkis are a local tradition celebrated with enclaves of family, friends, and church congregations gathering for large scale paczki baking events. The treats are enjoyed year-round but are most popular on Fat Tuesday prior to the observance of Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. The soft doughnut-type pastry, pronounced "punch-key," can be rolled in sugar or glazed after frying and may also be filled with jelly, custard, or cream.

Alpena is Growing
Have you heard the news? Alpena is seeing development growth in the business sector. A number of new businesses have recently popped up and more are yet to come as Mejier begins building on the M-32 corridor. This positive growth signals new opportunities for Northeast Michigan. Along with diversification of the market and job potential, new business growth increases the attractiveness of the region for visitors and other businesses who may be looking to relocate.  Alpena is becoming a city with a balanced mix of small town charm and modern amenities.

In addition to new businesses, our local favorites are continuing to shine bright. Downtown Alpena is a charming retreat from big box shopping and the US-23-South corridor has been undergoing major improvements over the past 12 months with a multi-layer revitalization effort. Stop by for a visit! You might be surprised by what you find!  


What happened to the old drive-in? Where can kids go to be active when it's raining out? How many parks are in the City of Alpena? Send us a question about Alpena and we'll answer it in the next newsletter.

The Gotta-Check-it-Out Adventure!
This month's gotta-check-it-out adventure is a visit to Besser Museum. In 1964, with a gift from Jesse and others, Besser Museum was born. Jesse Besser was an Alpena philanthropist, business man and engineer who revolutionized the concrete block making industry. The museum showcases the story of Alpena and our journey from Native American encampments to the prospecting wealth of lumber barons and beyond.

At the museum you can experience an old-fashioned Alpena village, soak in the stars in Northern Michigan's only planetarium, watch the unique Foucault pendulum, dig for real fossils that you can keep, and peruse the galleries featuring both regional and nationally renowned artists, wildlife exhibits, and thousands of artifacts from early man.

Besser Museum is located at 491 Johnson St. in Alpena. The Museum is open year-round from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Closed Sunday. There is a modest admission fee (with free admission on Wednesday's from 3-5 p.m.). Follow the link below to visit their website and start planning your visit!

Learn More 
Research in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Graduate students from East Carolina University document an anchor at the wreck of the schooner Ogarita during a maritime archaeology field school in Thunder Bay.

It  was a great year for research at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the nation's only freshwater marine sanctuary. The staff spent 53 days in the field, making 255 scientific dives in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and other sanctuary sites.  Highlights of the year included hosting 20 students and staff from East Carolina University that conducted archeological research on the shipwreck Montana.  The research team also conducted remote sensing surveys that generated incredible new sonar images and data for several shipwrecks.  


In addition to archaeological research, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary was very active in other Great Lakes-related research.  The sanctuary research team works with the University of Michigan, Grand Valley State University, and other partners on a range of multidisciplinary fieldwork as they study sinkholes, monitor experimental reefs, and gauge the impacts of invasive mussels in Thunder Bay.   
Alpena's Top 5 Rainy Day Adventures
  1. From Native Americans to Lumber Barons 
    Jesse Besser Museum, 491 Johnson Street  
    The museum serves as a center specializing in art, history & science. It features Native American displays, geology, a recreated 1890's street, 19th century historic buildings from Alpena lumbering days, and a planetarium.      

  2. America's Only Freshwater Marine Sanctuary  
    Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary's Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center
    500 W. Fletcher St.
    This hands-on center interprets the story of more than 200 shipwrecks resting on the bottom of Lake Huron just off the coast of Alpena in an area known as Shipwreck Alley. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is our nation's only freshwater Marine Sanctuary and protects a nationally significant collection of shipwrecks. A visit to the Maritime Center is your chance to explore the wrecks and the lives of those who sailed the Great Lakes.    

  3. Fuel up Downtown 
    A variety of quaint cafes, delis, restaurants, ice cream, Alpena's oldest standing saloon, a winery, shops, and even an English Pub await you in our charming Downtown. Stop by for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between.       

  4. Get Your Creative Juices Flowing  
    CobbyGoose, 104 N. Second Ave., Downtown Alpena
    Paint your own pottery and create the perfect gift or keepsake at this crafty downtown studio.   

    Art In the Loft, 109 Second Ave., Center Building, Downtown Alpena 
    This unique art gallery showcases the talent of local artisans and offers art classes throughout the year. 

  5. Take in a Show
    Thunder Bay Theatre, 400 N. Second Ave., Downtown Alpena  
    Alpena's year-round live theater offers shows throughout the year by a cast of professional performing artists.

    Alpena Civic Theater, 401 River Street, Downtown Alpena
    Alpena's revered community theater has been delighting audiences since 1955.


Until Next Time ...
Share this newsletter with someone who loves or misses Alpena. We look forward to seeing you out and about. Take care!

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This newsletter is brought to you by the Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau on behalf of the Alpena community. Copyright Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. All rights reserved.  |  989-354-4181  |  

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