JACKSON, Mich. — It is going to be a jam-packed weekend in Jackson with several big events all stuffed into a three-day period.
The fourth annual Gus Macker basketball tournament kicks off Friday night with several tournaments, including the “heroes” tournament for law enforcement and first responders, teachers and for athletes with disabilities. There will be music at Bucky Harris Park.
There will also be a free throw and three-point contest.
According to Co-Director Kyle Liechty, more than 200 teams are registered for the event, some coming from Georgia and Texas, up from 171 teams last year.
“One of the cool things with Jackson, it’s still in the downtown of the city,” he said. “Compared to being in a parking lot or something more removed from the restaurants and retail, we are integrated within the core of the city. While there’s a gap between games, you can stop by a local restaurant, pick up a bite to eat and checkout the retail establishments downtown."
The event runs through Sunday rain or shine. Saturday, the tournament will host the popular slam dunk contest where the winner will get $1,000. The runner-up gets $500, and new this year is a mascot three-on-three game.
“We’re going to have Blue from Blue Ox Credit Union, the Macker Man is playing, Paws from the Detroit Tigers, Madonna from the Toledo Mud Hens [The Detroit Tigers AAA affiliate], Buster Bronco from Western Michigan University and right in the core of Saturday with nice cool 85 degree heat and humidity playing a little bit of three-on-three basketball with the mascots,” Liechty said.
Any money left over from the event goes to nonprofit groups supporting the event.
Over at Ella Sharp Park, the Jackson Hot Air Jubilee is back this Friday and Saturday. Now in its 39th year, Balloonmeister Steve Sitko says 26 pilots are on deck this year, with some coming from North Carolina and Florida.
People can expect family-friendly events such as the Kids Kingdom, which has games and prizes, a car show, bands and helicopter rides.
“We also have an adult beverage tent this year to come out and enjoy music and some adult beverages, along with the beautiful park setting and food trucks,” Sitko said. “So, come on out and enjoy the spectacular setting and get some balloons off the ground and cheer us on.”
Balloon launches will happen Friday and Saturday morning and evening, weather permitting. They will have one additional balloon launch Sunday morning at 7 a.m. The event officially opens Friday at 4 p.m.
Also this weekend, Faster Horses Music Festival is back at Michigan International Speedway. Campers have begun to fill in on Thursday, and the event officially kicks off Friday. The country music festival is expected to draw in 40,000 people for the three-day event. Morgan Wallen, Eric Church and Tim McGraw are some of more than a dozen acts set to perform.
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