Shakespeare, hot air balloons, and the United States Civil War. What do these seemingly unrelated items have in common? They are all celebrated each summer in the city of Jackson, Michigan.
Jackson, a small city in southern Michigan, located just south of Lansing and just west of Ann Arbor, has a rich cultural history. The city celebrates that history each year with several festivals that are known throughout the state.
The Michigan Shakespeare Festival began in Jackson in 1995. The yearly event has grown over the years, from a one weekend engagement at the Ella Sharp Park to a four-week long run at the Potter Center. The goal of this event is to grow an appreciation for live theatre through performances of Shakespeareís work. Each year, a different comedy and tragedy written by The Bard are performed by the only fully professional Shakespeare troupe in the state. This festival, which typically takes place from mid-July to mid-August, also includes workshops and a performance of one non-Shakespearean play each summer.
If classical theatre isnít your idea of a good time, perhaps you would enjoy the annual Hot Air Jubilee. Founded in 1983, the Hot Air Jubilee is more than just a celebration of hot air balloons, though visitors will see plenty of those! Each year, 35-40 balloonists launch from a Jackson location (either the local airport or Ella Sharp Park) to the delight of thousands. The balloons can be seen floating over the city throughout on weekend each July. Those who venture out to see the balloons up close also have the chance to enjoy craft booth, a kidís play area, a classic car show, and a visit by Laura the Elephant. One of the best parts about the Hot Air Jubilee is the priceóitís free! That makes it a very affordable family-friendly event.
Hot air balloons were not often used in the American Civil War, but that doesnít stop the city of Jackson from celebrating that era of American history. The Annual Civil War Muster is held each August at the Sparks Foundation County Park (also known as Cascades Park.) For one weekend, Civil War re-enactors set up camp in the park, living as they would have lived during the war. Each year, a different battle is recreated on the massive park grounds. The largest Civil War re-enactment in Michigan, the Civil War Muster attracts thousands, not only for the battles themselves, but also to walk through the Union and Rebel camps. The guns and cannons are loud, making this event something that young children might be slightly afraid of, but it is over all a fun family event. And like the Hot Air Jubilee, it is absolutely free to the public.
These are just a few of the family-friendly events celebrated each year in the city of Jackson, Michigan. If you find yourself in this mid-Michigan town in the summer months, stop by to check out one of these amazing festivals. They are fun for the whole family.