The festival unofficially began in 1924 as a Coast Guard personnel only picnic when the local Coast Guard station held rowing competitions for those service members stationed in Grand Haven, Michigan. Today the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival has become a premier event with attendance of over 350,000 people including the nations highest ranking Coast Guard dignitaries from Washington, D.C.
The focus of the annual Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival is the National Coast Guard Memorial Service honoring those who sacrificed their lives in the service of their country while fulfilling their motto “SEMPER PARATUS” (“Always Ready”). Each year since the first picnic in 1924 and the first festival in 1937, we have celebrated our heroes, the men and women of the United States Coast Guard with fun filled family events at the annual Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival. Grand Haven is honored by its designation as “Coast Guard City, USA” by an Act of Congress and signed by the President of the United States on November 13, 1998.