They may be fierce competitors when the sails are taut and the wind is screaming in their face with white caps crashing over the bow with every wave, but the sailors of the renowned Tri-State Regatta headed to port in St. Joseph this Labor Day weekend also know how to party together with the best of them, and actually tip-toe across one another’s cockpits whether they’re headed ashore or calling it a night in Michigan’s Great Southwest.
It’s truly one of the great sailing traditions on Lake Michigan, and it takes place near the end of summer every year beginning on the Friday night of the Labor Day holiday weekend. Hundreds of sailors and over one hundred sailboats will depart Chicago for the race across the lake. This annual event, known as the Tri-State Regatta, has boats arriving in the St. Joseph harbor from midnight on Friday to noon the following day.
Arrival times are typically based on the size of the boat, weather conditions, and, of course, the skill of the crew. On Saturday, August 31st, the City of St. Joseph welcomes the sailors who will enjoy their afternoon at the St. Joseph River Yacht Club, wandering the streets and shops of the beautiful central business district, or if it was a long and rough night, simply recovering from the rigors of the race.
The race from Chicago to St. Joseph is run by the Columbia Yacht Club which, in partnership with the St. Joe River Yacht Club, sends many thousands of sailors and visitors to our shores every year. Some of the earliest competitive sailing between the historic Columbia Yacht Club and the St. Joseph Yacht Club fleets date all the way back to the early 1900s.
The current format, with the Friday race to St. Joe, a Sunday race to Michigan City and a Labor Day return race to Chicago, has been running for well over 70 years. The Michigan City Yacht Club sponsors the second leg, and the Jackson Park Yacht Club sponsors the race back to Chicago. All of the yacht clubs have noted that the long relationship between the clubs is sincerely valued. Typically, about a dozen or so boats from St. Joseph travel to Chicago to compete in the race, and often bring home a trophy or two.
Our own St. Joseph River Yacht Club sponsors the annual party on Saturday which has been called by many “The Best Regatta Party on the Great Lakes.” It is open to the public for all to enjoy on Saturday, August 31st.
The St. Joseph River Yacht Club invites everyone to come for a full day and night of food, libations, dockside camaraderie, and live musical entertainment.
The very popular band Catfight takes the main stage at 8:00 pm and will keep the party going until midnight, making for a great night of outdoor music and dancing.
The day kicks off with a breakfast buffet of scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, and sides from 7:00-11:00 am. A grilled lunch of burgers and hotdogs and favorite picnic sides will be available from 12:00-3:00 pm. There will be a fantastic dinner with choice of New York strip, chicken, or vegetarian, salad and sides from 6:00-8:00 pm.
Food and drink tickets can be purchased at the door. There will be a $5 cover charge after 7:30 pm for non-members.
The event takes place rain or shine under the big top at the St. Joe River Yacht Club located at 1 Lighthouse Lane in St. Joseph.
The SJYRC party is driven by volunteers who donate many hours to assure the celebration maintains its reputation as the coolest place to be on a hot Labor Day weekend. The crowds of people that head down to see the boats and enjoy the overall atmosphere help shape a great evening.
For more information you can call 269-983-6393.