June 2024 | Industry Newsletter

The Keweenaw’s visitor economy plays a vital role in our region’s quality of life and future prosperity. To keep local leaders and stakeholders current on issues impacting the industry, Visit Keweenaw created this monthly newsletter to share information on topics such as economic trends, destination and community investments, and other pertinent news.

We hope you find this a valuable resource to stay up to date on the Keweenaw’s visitor economy and encourage you to share it with parties you think would benefit from the information. As always, we look forward to sharing what makes the Keweenaw a special community to both live in and visit.

In this Newsletter:

Tourism Industry Update

Summer has returned to the Keweenaw, and we are on the cusp of another busy travel season. Indeed, as you walk through our downtowns, you can feel the increased energy as visitors from across the country begin to arrive. 

The next three months (July, August and September) are critical to the Keweenaw’s visitor economy. Typically, this period generates nearly half (44%) of all visitor spending for the entire year. Yes, the wait lines at our favorite restaurants become longer and street traffic gets busier. However, visitors are expected to spend nearly $65 million in the Keweenaw this summer and produce nearly $4 million in local tax revenue to support public services.

Visit Keweenaw is also thrilled to announce the launch of the Love The Keweenaw campaign to encourage recreationists to embrace Leave No Trace practices as they explore the area’s outdoor attractions and communities. We invite all our community partners and area businesses to help spread the message to create a safer and more sustainable recreation economy.

Love the Keweenaw launches sustainable recreation and visitor messaging


The Copper Harbor Trails Club, Keweenaw Land Trust, Eagle Harbor Township, Michigan State University Extension, WUPPDR and Visit Keweenaw just launched the Love The Keweenaw campaign. This enhancement in consistent messaging will equip community members, recreators and visitors with strategies and resources to make responsible decisions when recreating outdoors. Loving the Keweenaw can look like preparing for the weather, cleaning up your campsite or leaving wildflowers intact along a trail. Some may already be good stewards of the following principles: Leave No Trace, Responsible Recreation and Respecting Private Property.

“We’re proud to help lead this effort,” said Visit Keweenaw Executive Director Brad Barnett. “It is important that anyone who experiences our wilderness and communities do so respectfully and responsibly so that future generations can do the same.”

You can read more about the campaign and all the available resources to share with locals and visitors here.

Love the Keweenaw

Visit Keweenaw hosts annual membership meeting at Mariner North

On Tuesday, June 18, Visit Keweenaw hosted its annual membership meeting at the Mariner North. Roughly 20 representatives of different properties attended, celebrating another year of successful Keweenaw tourism.

At the meeting Visit Keweenaw Executive Director Brad Barnett presented Mariner Owners Don and Peggy Kauppi with a Visit Keweenaw Lifetime Achievement Award.

This is for their many years of commitment to the outdoor recreation industry in the Keweenaw. The Kauppis have been advocates of many trails and recreation projects in the Keweenaw.

Visit Keweenaw encourages its members to attend the next annual meeting to network with your industry peers and hear the latest trends in tourism.

3 figures speak together congenially in a lodge-like restaurant setting
Brad presents the lifetime achievement award to Don and Peggy Kauppi.

Hospitality Management Training Program coming to Houghton

This October, the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association will bring its 12-week Hospitality Training Institute of Michigan (HTIM) to Houghton. The program, which combines a mix of in-person and online training, is designed to support employees seeking to grow into management and leadership positions. Participating Keweenaw hospitality professionals are eligible to receive this course for free (a $2,500 value) which offers training in financial management, conflict resolution, food and alcohol safety and more. 

The program is designed for employees with experience working in hotels, restaurants or other hospitality-related fields. Upon completion, participants will have several nationally recognized certifications as well as the skills to become effective leaders. As dates and registration become available, Visit Keweenaw will share participation options.

Pedal Trolley starts foot-powered tour service in Houghton

Keweenaw Boat Tours just launched Houghton’s hottest new mode of transportation. Introducing: the pedal trolley. You can bring a group of 12, or hop on with others to take a pedal tour of Houghton’s vibrant art scene and the Portage Canal. Captain Jason Swain can turn on an e-motor to assist with hills or tired legs – but the trolley is all on its participants to move!

This new service is perfect for families, bachelorette parties and large groups looking for something guests go try. This experience is a creative way for Keweenaw Boat Tours to expand its lineup of rides.

a pedal trolley car rides the sidewalk in front of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge
Pedal your way along Houghton’s historic waterfront – work your legs and reward your eyes with cool views on the canal.

Delaware Mine Featured on The Crossing Place

Visit Keweenaw’s documentary series “The Crossing Place” continues with a feature on the Delaware Mine. After long-time owner Tom Poynter’s passing in 2023, his daughter Laurie Sullivan and her husband Bob have taken on the family’s legacy. The mine is unique: its story continues to grow. The grounds are being studied currently to carbon date archeological finds predating known Native American activity.

The Delaware Mine is an excellent family-friendly (and pet friendly) self-guided tour north of Calumet that is a perfect place to pack a lunch. You can enjoy scenic views from the top of its walking path or go underground to explore the mine.

The Delaware Mine was featured on “The Crossing Place” in its most recent episode. Watch now to learn more about what’s going on at the Delaware Mine. You can watch “The Crossing Place” on Visit Keweenaw social media and its website.

Laurium Manor Celebrates 35 Years of Ownership


When Michigan Tech Graduates Julie and Dave Sprenger acquired their copper baron dream in 1989, the Laurium Manor Inn stood as a shadow of its former self. The once-majestic halls were stripped bare and the mansion was uninhabitable. With no working furnace or plumbing, and very few light fixtures but an affinity for restoring old homes – the Sprengers embarked on an ambitious project to restore the mansion to its full potential.

Originally built in 1908 by Thomas Hoatson Jr., owner of the Calumet & Arizona Mining Company, the Laurium Manor Inn invented luxury and grandeur. At the time of its iconic completion it became the largest mansion in the Western Upper Peninsula. Fit for the one of the most respected copper mine owners in the Keweenaw, the mansion spans 13,000 square feet and was built with some of the finest materials available at the time including elephant hide walls and exquisite hardwood.

For over three decades, Julie and Dave poured their hearts into the restoration, creating a sanctuary of elegance and comfort for their guests. Today, the renovated mansion is a testament of the Sprengers’ dedication, inviting visitors to experience the lavish lifestyle of a copper king. From the stately white front porch to the golden hour glow of private room balconies, the Laurium Manor Inn exudes classic sophistication and timeless charm, offering an unforgettable stay in the heart of the Keweenaw.

Visit Keweenaw congratulates the Sprengers’ on this accomplishment and thanks them greatly for their contributions to the tourism industry over the years. The Laurium Manor Inn is an elegant option that can elevate a visitor’s experience and help them connect with the area’s history.

two figures pose and smile on a colonial porch
Julie and Dave Sprenger on the Laurium Manor Inn porch.

Keweenaw Businesses Top 50 Companies to Watch in Michigan

Congratulations to Keweenaw business leaders Jennifer Julien and Valerie Baciak for leading companies recently celebrated among Michigan's Top 50 Companies to Watch in 2024 by Michigan Celebrates Small Business! Braveworks (which encompasses The Vault Hotel of Houghton and The Hampton Inn & Suites of Houghton) and  Keweenaw Coffee Works are powerhouse small businesses and vital forces in Michigan's hospitality community. Julien currently serves as Visit Keweenaw’s Board of Directors Vice President and on the board of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Keweenaw dominates MyNorth Red Hot Awards 


MyNorth runs a Red Hot Best: Above the Bridge contest each year. Readers nominate and vote for their favorite services from bakeries to financial advisors. The Keweenaw dominated multiple rounds and took home a range of titles. 

  • #2 Art Gallery: Studio 13

  • #2 Bakery: The Jampot

  • #2 Breakfast Spot: Keweenaw Coffee Works

  • #1 Brewery: Keweenaw Brewing Company

  • #2 Coffee Shop: Keweenaw Coffee Works

  • #2 Disc Golf Area: Calumet Lions Park

  • #2 Event: Michigan Tech Winter Carnival

  • #1 Gym/Health Studio: Fresh Coast Yoga

  • #3 Happy Hour: The Observatory Lounge

  • #3 Historical Landmark: Quincy Mine

  • #1 Home Builder/Contractor: LLJ Construction

  • #1 Locally Made Hard Beverage: Widow Maker, KBC

  • #2 Lodging: Hotels, Resorts: The Vault Hotel

  • #2 Lodging: Not Hotels: Laurium Manor Inn

  • #3 Pizza: The Ambassador

  • #3 Place to Buy A Book: Sunflower Books & Coffee

  • #2 Place to Buy Organic and Natural Food: Keweenaw Coop

  • #2 Place to buy Pet Items: Erickson Feed, Seed & Pet Supply

  • #3 Place to Kayak/Canoe/SUP: Keweenaw Adventure Company, Lake Superior

  • #3 Tied for Restaurant: Fitzgerald’s

  • #3 Winter Hike Trail: Mich Tech Trails

  • #3 XC Ski Area: Mich Tech Trails

Red Hot Best: Above the Bridge includes competing destination businesses like Mackinac Island, Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie. This publication gives visibility of these businesses to a large audience of potential travelers.

Vollwerth’s Hot Dog Eating Contest proves to be a hit

Visit Keweenaw continues to staff, create and run new events in the region. At BridgeFest this year, Visit Keweenaw hosted a hot dog eating contest. The contest was sponsored by Vollwerth’s and Pat’s Foods who provided the franks and the buns. More than 100 people turned up during the BridgeFest weekend to watch the show.

This event was purposefully placed against the side of Ray Kestner Park with the Portage Lake Lift Bridge in the background. There were seven walk-ups who were able to participate in place of online no-shows making for nine total contestants. Through great planning, incredible partnership and a propane-powered griddle – 100 hot dogs were distributed to contestants. They ate for three minutes and 30 seconds and at the end – about 150 free hot dogs were given out to the public for free.

a series of contestants sit with their back to the camera, beyond them a crowd of onlookers cheers
The Vollwerth’s Hot Dog Eating Contest drew a big crowd. (Credit: 2nd Sandbar Productions)

10 Fourth of July Celebrations in the Keweenaw


There are at least ten known community celebrations in the Keweenaw for the Fourth of July. Each has its own fun lineup of events so wherever you end up there will be something fun to do. Dollar Bay, Lake Linden, Ahmeek, South Range, Copper Harbor, Hubbell, Gay, Tapiola, Mohawk and Eagle Harbor all have Fourth of July festivities. (Most have parades too!)

Head to our updated roundup for more details on all of the July Fourth fun in the Keweenaw. Visit Keweenaw updates this blog every year with new schedules.

Strawberry Festival Follows Fourth of July


Chassell is looking forward to a busy two weeks! Just after its July Fourth activities, Chassell will host the 76th annual festival at Chassell Lions Park. The festival dates back to the 1930s when a group of berry farmers started the Copper Country Strawberry Growers Association and started shipping strawberries across the U.S. It became such an important part of the region’s economy the festival was created in 1949 and featured a big guest.

Newly elected in 1948, Michigan’s Governor G Mennen Williams crowned the Strawberry Festival’s first strawberry queen. Don’t miss the fish boil and the tasty strawberry shortcake this year! See the full schedule on the Strawberry Festival website.