Inaugural Michigan Bootlegger Heritage Festival on the Nautical Mile set for Oct. 1

Back in the 1920s, Detroit was the epicenter for bootlegging, as smugglers trafficked bootlegged beer and liquor across the Canadian border. In fact, it was said that 75 percent of all the alcohol smuggled into the U.S. during Prohibition crossed the border between Windsor and Detroit. “Rumrunning” had become Detroit’s second largest industry, and some 25,000 speakeasies operated in the area.


The people, it seemed, would not be denied their drink of choice. In Detroit, they protested loudly carrying signs that read, “We Want Beer.”

On Saturday, Oct. 1, a group of fun-loving nonprofits will mark this era with a new event: the Michigan Bootlegger Heritage Festival. This first-ever event will be held Saturday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Colony Marine on the Nautical Mile in St. Clair Shores. The festival will feature antique boats and cars of the Prohibition era, an all-day program of live entertainment, a large contingent of craft breweries from across Michigan and tastings from many fine regional restaurants.

The entertainment lineup and schedule features:

1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Reggie Smith and the After Party
2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. – Live DJ
3 p.m. – 5 p.m. – ROCKSTAR
5 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Live DJ
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Planet D Nonet
7:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. – Live DJ
8 p.m. – 10 p.m. – The Orbitsuns

There will be 30 participating Michigan craft breweries including:  Kuhnhenn Brewing Co., Baffin Brewing Co., Dragonmead, Griffin Claw, Latitude 42, Saugatuck Brewing Co., Mountain Town Brewing Co., Epic Brewing Co., Sierra Nevada, Atwater Brewery, Arbor Brewing, Liberty Street, Frankenmuth Brewing Co., Founders Brewing, Falling Down Beer Co., Blake’s Hard Cider, B. Nektar Meadery, Brooks Brewing and many others.

Participating restaurants include:  Fishbone’s Rhythm Kitchen, The Twisted Rooster, The Current, Buffalo Wild Wings, Bobcat Bonnie’s, Jefferson Yacht Club, North 42, Blossom Heath, Lakeland Banquet, Pegasus Taverna, Watermark Bar & Grill and Brownie’s on the Lake.

The event is being hosted by the Lake St. Clair Tourism Initiative and the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Major sponsors include Colony Marine, 89X and 93.9 The River, Macomb County, the city of St. Clair Shores, Lake St. Clair Tourism Initiative, the Nautical Mile Merchants Association and the Detroit Beer Barons. Colony Marine, a major Sea Ray and Boston Whaler dealer, is located at 24530 Jefferson in St. Clair Shores and is also home to Michigan Harbor.

Admission cost for this 21-and-older event is $35 in advance or $40 at the door. For more information or to order tickets, visit

Event parking will be available at South Lake High School located on 9 Mile between Harper Avenue and Greater Mack. There will be a free shuttle service from South Lake High School to Colony Marine.

Amanda Minaudo is a Senior Planner in the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. She often contributes to the Make Macomb Your Home Blog, writing about the many fun and exciting things to see and do around Macomb County. 

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