Sunrise Side Wine & Food Festival History

Over Twenty-five years ago, a wine representative from Alpena Beverage Company, Al Randall, had visited Leelanau’s Wine and Food Festival and thought an event like this would be a perfect fit for the Sunrise Side. He thought Harrisville would be the ideal location based on its alluring small town charm, beautiful landscapes, and wonderful people.  Randall was a representative for many local businesses including Muehlbeck’s. He brought the idea to the restaurant’s owner, Ilona Breitmeyer, and asked if she thought Harrisville would like to sponsor such an event.  With much help from Leelanau’s Festival coordinator, the dream started to become a reality.  Breitmeyer, along with three other friends, Becky Stratton, Jackie Conklin, and Carol Sella, worked hard and put on the first Sunrise Side Wine and Food Festival in July of 1994.  At the time, Harrisville was also in the early years of hosting the Harrisville Lake Trout Festival which worked out perfect at that time because they were able to share the harbor space and tent for both festivals.  A few years later, the dates for the Lake Trout Festival were changed and the area was in search of another festival in between the Lake Trout and the Wine and Food Festivals, which was when the Harrisville Antiques Show was created.

The group of women approached the Harrisville Chamber of Commerce to sponsor the liquor license needed to put on the event.  The Michigan Grape & Wine Industry Council helped by giving them a grant for startup money and received a second grant to ensure success for the first three years of the festival.    The first year proved to be quite a sensation with beautiful weather. Many wineries from across the state came to showcase their wines and local restaurants made signature dishes to accompany the fine wines.  Live music was coordinated by Maryann Hubbard combining the talents of local musicians with food and drink created the perfect ambiance for the event. As the years have gone by, the people behind the scenes have changed but the Sunrise Side Wine and Food Festival has become a staple of Harrisville’s summer.


3rd Saturday in July – Sunrise Side Wine and Food Festival will be held under the “Big Top” at the Harrisville Harbor from noon to 6 p.m.  Several wineries, breweries and restaurants.  Cost is $20 which includes commemorative glass and five tasting tokens.