Amy Stein-Hansen
Ashlee Cowles
Carol Murray Jewelry
Cindy McSurely
Deborah Crandell
Diane Frederick
Elizabeth Calcutt
Greta Bolger
Heather Harris-Brady
Helen Grove
Holly Polich
Ian Jones
Ingrid Andrews
Jim Young
Joe Thatcher Thatcher
Judy Zorn
Julie Avery
Kate Korroch
Kristi Wodek
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Leslie Donaldson
Linda Gits
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Lisa Ventimiglio
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Sharon Mick McAuley
Tamara Hoffbauer
Tami Maisel
Terry Beamsley
Tim Sparling Sparling
Ginny Hawkins
Walter J. Lee
William Lindemann
Yvonne Sage

NW MI Arts & Culture Network

Blessing of the Fleet in Harbor Springs

In the summer of 2022, the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society (HSAHS) hosted the 10th Annual Blessing of the Fleet on Little Traverse Bay. In order to educate and record the history of this event, the HSAHS curated a Blessing of the Fleet exhibit, for display in the Harbor Springs History Museum. The exhibit featured, as its centerpiece, a commissioned painting portraying this community tradition, by local Michigan artist Trisha Witty. The exhibit was augmented by interpretative signage that documented the history of the Blessing of the Fleet waterfront tradition. This was a FY22 Minigrant Project.

This project involved the research, design and installation of a new exhibition highlighting the Historical Society’s signature event, the Blessing of the Fleet. Blessing a fleet of watercraft at the opening of the fishing season was a common practice in Mediterranean communities in centuries past. The practice became popular across the United States as immigrants carried their traditions with them, and the native American ceremonies were learned. The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society introduced a Blessing of the Fleet boat parade in 2012, to build community around waterfront activities and traditions, to include past ceremonial practices of the Odawa along with current waterfront recreation. The success of this event has grown, as is noted by an increasing number of participants on the shore and water. Over 160 water vessels join the parade by paddle board, kayak, sailboat or motorboat. Additionally, the hundreds of spectators along the shore are entertained by a historical society volunteer, who narrates the parade, and music by the Harbor Springs Community Band.

The new exhibit at the Harbor Springs History Museum celebrates the 10th anniversary of this new tradition in the history of our community. It provides background on the tradition’s origins and the local history of other waterfront events and parades.

Local artist Trisha Witty painted an original scene depicting the Blessing of the Fleet image our community has come to love and look forward to annually. It is 40″ x 30″ oil on canvas and features the flagship of this event, locally owned motor yacht, Canim surrounded by the parade of water craft receiving their seasonal blessing. Witty’s career has taken her to all parts of the globe, with hundreds of paintings hung across the nation. Her enthusiasts and collectors have consistently grown, while her originals remain in high demand, increasing in value every year.

Since its opening, we have hosted 1,560 visitors at the Harbor Springs History Museum to view the new exhibition. The exhibit builds on our current displays, by sharing more the story of Harbor Springs waterfront history.

PO Box 1859
Traverse City, MI

Our Members


Charlevoix Circle of Arts

Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology

Dennos Museum Center

Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts

Good Hart Artist Residency

Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra

Leelanau Historical Society

Michigan Legacy Art Park

National Writers Series


Traverse City Dance Project

Glen Arbor Arts Center

Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum

Jordan River Arts Council

Mash-Up Rock & Roll Musical

City Opera House

Benzie Historical Society

Harbor Springs Festival of the Book

Downtown Development Authority

The Historic Vogue Theatre of Manistee

Northport Art Association

Voices Without Borders

Blissfest Music Organization

Raven and Lotus LLC

Traverse City Arts Commission

Crooked Tree Arts Center

Up North Arts

Cadillac Visitors Bureau

Parallel 45 Theatre Festival

Old Town Playhouse

Twisted Fish Gallery

Interlochen Center for the Arts

Traverse Symphony Orchestra

Rachael Harrell – Drama Kids

The Croft Residency

Drama Kids – Rachael Harrell

Michigan Museums Associations Scholarships & Conference


Gary Gatzke

Ian Jones

Jim Young

Kristi Wodek

Mark Bowyer

Mary Gillett

Megan Heator

Molly Thompson

Renee Hintz

Susan Wenzlick

Ted Alan

Greta Bolger

Edward Kocher

Nick Walsh

Heather Harris-Brady

Monica Stokes

Amanda Kik

Mercedes Michalowski

Sharon Hubbard

Leslie Donaldson

Elizabeth Calcutt

Maia Hausler

Becky Lancaster

Linda Dewey

Melissa Johnson

Daniel Stewart

Walter J. Lee

Michelle Bien

H. Eleanor Jones

Tom Kaufmann

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