Cheeseburger in Caseville 2010: Part I

Once again, the Cheeseburger in Caseville camping trip did not disappoint!

The festival, now in its 12th year, is basically a 10-day tribute to Jimmy Buffett and the laid-back beachcomber lifestyle for which he's known. Featuring music, cheeseburgers, beach volleyball, cardboard boat races, sand castles, the Parade of Fools and much more, the festival is annually voted the best in Michigan.

For 50 weeks out of the year, Caseville is a quiet community of about 2,700 people on the shores of Saginaw Bay in Michigan's "thumb." But during the festival, Caseville becomes a colorful city with tens of thousands of Parrotheads. The city hangs flamingos from the lampposts, businesses decorate in their best Caribbean flair and the smell of grilled cheeseburgers settles in like a sweet aromatic haze.

It is a great event, and we're happy to have camped there, if only for a weekend, for the last three years.

We stay at Albert E. Sleeper State Park, about 4-5 miles north of Caseville and the County Park that serves as Ground Zero for most festival events. One reason we stay here instead of the County Park is because we can "escape" all the hoopla going on. A second reason is it's easier to make a reservation at the state park, especially if you want multiple sites next to each other.

Speaking of multiple sites, this year we needed four of them. The first year it was just my family and I (meeting up with my buddy Steve, who now camps at the county park). The second year my Aunt Sandy and Uncle Ed came. This year my parents and my Aunt Sandy's sisters, Mary, Sue and Lisa, as well as Lisa's family, also came camping with us. A total of 17 people!

We arrived at various times Thursday, Aug. 12, although Lisa and her husband, Scott, and their kids weren't able to get there until nearly 11 p.m.

Friday morning was a big breakfast (pancakes, cantaloupe, sausage, orange juice and coffee) and then late in the afternoon we headed down to Caseville for cheeseburgers and that night's live entertainment, Marty Viers and the Music Doctors.

As I mentioned, downtown Caseville is all decked out for this festival. After parking at the county park and meeting up with Steve and his family, we set up our lawn chairs at the park's natural amphitheater and followed our noses to the dozen or so places grilling cheeseburgers in parking lots and on sidewalks. The cheeseburgers are fundraisers for local organizations, and on that Friday night alone 28,000 cheeseburgers were sold. That's right, I said twenty-eight thousand cheeseburgers.

The music that night was really good classic rock covers from Marty Viers and The Music Doctors. They were as entertaining as the cast of characters found in the crowd and on the dance floor. One older lady in particular had us all laughing. She was the only one dancing during the warm-up act, and since it was Tribute to the Military Night soldiers from the local National Guard were in uniform and walking back and forth. Well, each time a soldier would pass her, the dancing lady would scoot up behind them and goose them!

Something else about the crowd, at least the female portion, did not go unnoticed by Luke, our 12-year-old son (who's also pictured above in a cheeseburger hat). Without going into detail, he simply turned to me and said "Some of these people don't know the meaning of the term 'sports bra.'" It was 90 degrees, very humid and people dressed accordingly.

A very cool laser light show followed the concert. It was a nice ending to a good day. We drove back to the campground and went to bed, since the next day, Saturday, was to be a loooong day of sand castles in the day and the Jimmy Buffett songs of Air Margaritaville at night.

Click here for Part II!