The Aldo Leopold Festival generates meaningful economic impacts by drawing nature lovers to the Upper Peninsula for springtime activities.

Decorative poster for the Aldo Leopold Festival

Aldo Leopold is regarded as one of the most influential American naturalists of the twentieth century. He spent his formative years visiting northern Michigan’s Les Cheneaux Islands, experiences which shaped his land ethic. His legacy is celebrated through a 1,700-acre nature preserve on Marquette Island in Lake Huron along the southeastern Upper Peninsula. 

For nearly a decade, the springtime Aldo Leopold Festival has drawn hundreds of visitors to the Les Cheneaux Islands for presentations, birding hikes, paddling excursions, wildflower tours, and other activities that celebrate the natural world. Local Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Elliot Nelson assists with festival planning and programming. He also conducted an in-depth evaluation and economic analysis of the 2022 festival. 

In 2022, the Aldo Leopold Festival generated over $50,000 in direct spending on food, lodging, and purchases at local businesses. This is significant economic activity for the region’s small communities, especially before the summer tourism season. Of 163 attendees surveyed, 100 percent would recommend the event to a friend and said that they learned something more about the environment at the festival. 

Registration is now open for the 2024 Aldo Leopold Festival, coming up on May 29-June 2. Local illustrator Katie Elberts created the 2024 festival poster, shown here, celebrating many of Michigan’s foragable plants and mushrooms.