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Harbor Beach, Michigan
Maritime Festival
Can-Am Cup
July 17-18, 2004


Budweiser continues support of Maritime Festival.


Chris Ogryski
Sports Writer - Huron County Press

Volume 8

Four years ago when the Harbor Beach Maritime Festival (which takes place from July 15th- 18th this year)  needed them most, Budweiser and Smith Distributing of Bad Axe stepped up to the plate as a sponsor. That support remains as strong as ever, as this year marks their fourth year as a sponsor for the entire festival as well as the third year they will be the title sponsor for the Can-Am Cup races on July 17th.

In the time that these two organizations have worked together it has been a marriage made in heaven for both groups. For the Maritime Committee, they got the financial support to keep improving their festival. For Budweiser, they have their name attached to an event that has become the second largest spectator event for watercraft in the country, second only to the World Finals.

Of course at the time, this was a big decision for Budweiser and Smith Distributing, so it took a little bit of schmoozing to get the deal done. “The Maritime Committee, lead by Al Kleinknecht, contacted us personally and the idea of supporting a local event was appealing,” Dan Gusa of Smith Distributing said.

“There were several meetings before we agreed to sponsor. We have limited resources, but the idea of bringing people into Huron County and Harbor Beach with this exciting event made it worth it,” Gusa continued.

And it was that sense of civic pride that made Smith Distributing decide to become part of this fast growing event. “Smith Distributing is a part of this community.  We try to give back as much as we can,” Gusa said. “This event is basically free to the public and with the way they run the festival, there is something for the whole family to do.” 

“Young and old can share in the experiences of the weekend.  It's not just about racing...it's about people,” Gusa said.

But the racing has become a huge part of it, even a bigger part then most expected. “The way Harbor Beach ran the first years festival, the response was awesome. We had a hand in it right from the beginning and figured we would take another chance by sponsoring this thing called the Can-Am Cup,” Gusa said.

“It was a great move,” Gusa continued. “This event keeps growing.”

One of the big reasons for that growth has to be the support of Budweiser over the past few years and even the early support this year, which they made official in an early January press release.

The fact that they stepped up so quickly this year, was something that truly impressed Maritime Festival Committee member Al Kleinknecht. “This announcement of sponsorship so early in the 2004 season is a testament to the commitment by Budweiser and Smith Distributing to our community and the many guest who arrive from all over the country… to enjoy the hospitality of Harbor Beach and the Thumb of Michigan,” Kleinknecht said in the press release.

With the commitment Budweiser and Smith Distributing have made to the Maritime Fest and the community who seeks to enjoy it, this year’s event has the potential to be one of the best ever. If Budweiser decides to continue as a sponsor next year, that one may be better yet.















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