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37th annual Atlanta Elk Festival kicks off with parade today

Courtesy Photo An elk is pictured above. The 37th Annual Atlanta Elk Festival starts today with a parade at 5 p.m.

ATLANTA — After a hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the 37th annual Atlanta Elk Festival is back on, today through Sunday.

The majority of the weekend’s activities are free, thanks to the generosity of sponsors.

The Atlanta Chamber of Commerce is heading up the festival, which has drawn crowds up to 3,000 in the past, said Chamber Secretary Stephanie Teets.

“It’s the biggest Chamber event of the year,” said Teets, who hopes for a great turnout. “Everybody’s really wanting to get out and do something,.”

The Elk Fest Parade happens at 5 p.m. today, and the Elk Photo Booth will be open from 5 to 7 p.m.

Food and craft vendors open after the parade, and the Country Poor Boys play from 6 p.m. to midnight in the beer tent.

To get into the beer tent, adults ages 21 and older can purchase an Elk Fest Button for $5, which is also an entry to win three separate drawings for $500 each. A drawing will be held on each day. The button is required for entry to any of the concerts in the beer tent.

“There will be live music in the beer tent and on the street every day,” she said.

On Saturday, a chainsaw-carving contest is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with cash prizes of $500, $250, and $100. A quick-carve competition will be held from 1 to 2 p.m.

“It’s really cool to watch,” Teets said. “It’s right on Main Street, so there’s no charge to watch.”

A 5K/10K Walk/Run will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Vendors open at 10 a.m., the same time as the Miss Elk Fest Pageant, sponsored by Karcher Insurance Agency. The pageant features Miss Elk Fest, Junior Miss Elk Fest, Little Miss Elk Fest, and Tiny Miss and Tiny Mister Elk Fest.

A farmer’s market is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Kids crafts and games will be from noon to 6 p.m. A cornhole tournament is at noon. Musicians include Randy Bouchard from noon to 2 p.m., and the Beachbillies from 2 to 6 p.m. Auctions will be held at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Zuesha Lunsford Karaoke will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Yankee Station plays from 8 p.m. to midnight in the beer tent.

Sunday is a fun day, too, with a kid’s fishing tournament at 10:30 a.m., a pizza-eating contest at noon, the ever-popular rubber chicken toss at 1 p.m., a pie-eating contest at 2 p.m., and a tricycle race for all ages on the street at 3 p.m.

“I want to see adults on tricycles,” Teets said. “I think it’s going to be really fun to watch.”

She added that the mascot in an elk suit will be riding a tricycle in the race.

Since 1986, Atlanta has been known as “The Elk Capital of Michigan.”

Sponsors include Budweiser, Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union, Community Financial Credit Union, Chatter and Sandy Suiter, United Country Great Lakes Realty and Auction, Gaylord Elk’s Lodge #2544, Welcome to Atlanta Facebook Page, JJ’s Catering and Rental, M&D Towing, Winston’s Corner LLC, Lucky D’s LLC, Sue West, Grey Ghost Ranch, JT Trucking and Logging, Atlanta Eagles #4077, Thunder Bay Sanitation, K-N-K Excavating, AHS Class of 2021, Josh and Stephanie Teets, Jono’s Plumbing Services, Pappy’s Pizza and Fat Chicks BBQ, Atlanta Eagles Ladies Auxiliary, Mark and Mary Dugas, and Pauline Moran.

“Our sponsors cover the cost so there’s no cost (to patrons) for any of these activities,” Teets said, adding, “We couldn’t do this without all our volunteers. They’re amazing.”

The festival is dedicated in loving memory of Todd Kendrick, Gloria Schultz, and Hank Wooten.

In addition to Teets, members of the Atlanta Chamber Board include President Keith Klein, Treasurer John Zollars, and Trustees Mary Dugas, Ariann Fulkerson, and Amy Corron.

Contact the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce for more information at 989-785-3400, or atlantamichamber@gmail.com.

Historically, the family-friendly festival has been held in the last full weekend in September.

“People will actually book out a year in advance,” Teets said. “We have people who have been coming here forever.”

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