Following summer rush, Northport comes “Uncaged”

From staff reports

Photos by Lisa Baird

Leelanau UnCaged is a quintessential Northport take on a daylong, free festival that could only happen in September—after the summer tourism rush subsides. It’s unique and flavored with the profiles of this quirky, joyous town near the tip of the Leelanau peninsula.

“Our founder Andy Thomas had this idea of how we could bring the village closer together after a long and strenuous summer of service,” said organizer and musician Sandy Dhuyvetter. “Doing it the last Saturday in September allows folks who were in the service industry to come and relax with their neighbors and families.”

Founded 10 years ago (but skipped in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID) and inspired by the avant garde artist, composer and philosopher John Cage—who once said, “Get yourself out of whatever cage you find yourself in”—Leelanau UnCaged takes place on Sept. 30 and features a water blessing led by Native women at the marina pavilion at 11 am, a short and energetic samba drum parade, and live music from noon until 10 pm.

As many as 40 different musicians will play on six stages throughout the village. The festival features a kid’s tent until 4 pm, as well as plenty of food and art vendors. Kids will delight at the mermaid and the lady on stilts. BATA will run buses each hour from Traverse City, with stops in Suttons Bay and Peshawbestown, and all street merchants and restaurants should be open for business.

Leelanau UnCaged was voted the best event in Leelanau and Benzie Counties earlier this year by

Northport has already enjoyed quite a year in 2023. Yard & Lake, the lake-themed retail market which also boasts “hidden toys” inside, debuted its classy cocktail bar and authentic Mexican taco food truck; The Find North a lifestyle general store opened in town; Fingers Crossed opened in the old garage bar with a new remodeled interior and exterior; The Union offered music all summer long and cranked out unbelievable food, said Daniel Caudill, the owner of Olean’s dispensary who now heads the Northport-Omena Chamber of Commerce; and Northport’s fun and family-friendly “dog parade” featured nearly 200 canines. The Tea Dance to support LGBTQ+ awareness also returns Oct. 1 to the Willowbrook Mill

Olean’s, half a mile north of downtown, enjoys a loyal customer base as the only cannabis dispensary in Leelanau County. “Everything we sell is manufactured and grown in Michigan,” said Caudill, who credits Traverse City’s recreational marijuana status as being a rising tide that lifts all boats in the region.