Mackinac Island's Lilac Festival is not your average summertime collection of deep-fried food, band shells and carnival booths. Instead, this annual event finds fun and creative ways to showcase the fragrant flower, and even educates visitors about the island's fascinating ties to dogs and horses.
The festival is timed to occur when several dozen varieties of local lilacs are in full blossom (but Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate). Locals like to say this is the only time of the year when the fragrance of the flowers is strong enough to overpower the scent of horses.
The festival began in 1949 when a couple of islanders convinced stable owners to stage a parade while the lilacs were blooming. Lilac Day has since grown into a 10-day festival. Arguably, the most popular event is the Taste of Mackinac, an opportunity to sample menu items from island restaurants, along with beer and wine. Watch parades, take narrated lilac walks, and see a Dog and Pony Show. Don't get any ideas about taking home the native lilacs as a souvenir, though—the rare species are protected by the state park.