Calling All Fudgies! Second Annual Mackinac Island Fudge Festival Runs Aug. 26-28

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich., Aug. 15 /PRNewswire/ — Most people don’t need an excuse to indulge in a piece or two of creamy, decadent fudge. But, for those who do, the 2nd annual Mackinac Island Fudge Festival, which runs Aug. 26-28, offers Island dwellers and tourists a terrific reason to celebrate fudge — made fresh each day at Mackinac’s 15 fudge shops.

For more than a century, Mackinac Island’s fudge has been an institution that’s become famous worldwide. Fudge devotees are known as “fudgies” — a term that’s also synonymous with Northern Michigan tourists.

The festival features a number of fudge-related events activities, including:

* Fudge spa treatments at 7th Heaven Salon & Spa and the Lilac Tree Hotel and Spa

* Fudge drink and dinner specials at restaurants and pubs Island-wide

* A free dance series featuring the Maycroft Square Tappers, Fine Art Academy of Dance and Children’s Ballet Theatre of Michigan

* Bicycle and hiking tours

* A feather-masked wine and fudge tasting and feather sword fencing competition at the Inn at Stonecliffe

* Stoneskipping for fudge
* Fudge film festival with showings of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
* Architectural walking tour

In addition, several Island fudge shops will host the “Daddy, I want the Golden Ticket & I want it Now!” fudge vacation contest. Much like in the movie, Five Golden Tickets have been placed in special packages of fudge. Those who purchase the package with a Winning Golden Ticket inside will receive a 2006 two night stay on the Island for four that includes ferry tickets, a carriage tour, kayaking, lunch and a raffle ticket for a chance to win $10,000 from the Mackinac Heritage Boating Foundation (http://www.bernida.org/ ).

Like lilacs, horses and bicycles, fudge making is an Island hallmark and longtime tradition. In the nineteenth century, maple sugar sweets were manufactured by the local Odawa in nearby L’Arbor Croche, packaged in birchbark containers called “mokuks” and shipped from Mackinac Island in steamships touring the Great Lakes to confectioners throughout the country.

After the Civil War, Island shopkeepers continued to stock the “mokuks” along with Whitman’s and Stuart’s candies and chocolates. Tourists visiting the Island began requesting regional, Mackinac-made goods and in the late 1880s Harry Murdick opened “Murdick’s Candy Kitchen.” He and sons Rome and Gould made the fudge on marble slabs positioning the kitchen cooling fans to blow the smell of cooking candy onto the streets.

By the 1930s, Murdick’s Fudge had grown to several locations and added Harold May, a prominent candy chef from Kansas to the staff. In the 1940s, Gould Murdick retired and sold his business to May. After World War II, May’s Fudge began supplying postwar tourists with fudge, quality chocolates and candies and began the tradition of fudge making as a spectator activity.

Looking to grab a piece of the action, Harry Ryba, a Detroiter who made and sold fudge at State Fairs, bought a shop with his son-in-law Victor Callewaert on Main Street. He believed in May’s philosophy of fudge making as a spectator sport and strategically located his marble slabs in his storefront windows while using Murdick’s ploy of blowing the smell of fudge making onto the Island’s streets and began to attract crowds to his store.

The fudge business boomed and the Murray Hotel began selling fudge from their porch, Frank Nephew opened Joanne’s Fudge to honor the tradition and Bob Benser purchased Murdick’s Fudge from the soon-to-be-retired Jerome Murdick to preserve Mackinac Island’s first fudge making business.

Mackinac Island’s fudge is an Island institution that is now known worldwide. Today, the scent of fudge continues to waft through the streets of Mackinac.

About Mackinac Island:

Mackinac Island is a National Historic Landmark located between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas and covers 2,200 acres of land. The Island banned private motor vehicle use during the last century and today relies on the services of more than 600 horses to provide residents and visitors transportation around the Island.

Mackinac hosts more than a half-million visitors each year and is home to the Lilac Festival, Chicago & Bay View Yacht Clubs’ Race to Mackinac Boat Race, Fudge Festival, Grand Hotel Labor Day Jazz Festival and Somewhere in Time Weekend. For more information visit, http://www.mackinacisland.org/ or call 1-800-4LILACS.

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