More than 50 events planned for 51st annual National Blueberry Festival
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Few excuses will be found for crying the blues when South Haven's most popular summer festival gets underway this week.
The 51st annual National Blueberry Festival opens Thursday and continues through Sunday featuring more than 50 events and activities for local residents and visitors to enjoy.
“It's certainly one of the biggest festivals in Southwest Michigan,” said Brenda Daggett, a member of the festival committee. “We have become a destination place, but everybody who lives here already knows that.”
For people who don't, they'll find when sampling the festival's panoramic schedule of events.
“The kids like the pie-eating contest, the craft show is a big hit, and then of course when you think of the dinners, and the Fly-In...the entertainment, that's probably the biggest attraction,” Daggett said.
But there's more. Meijer is hosting a full day of activities for children on Friday. South Haven Health System will sponsor its popular 5K/10K run on Saturday. Gamblers can take their chances during the Knights of Columbus Las Vegas Night. Beach lovers will put their creativity to the test during the Sand Sculpture Contest. People can enjoy watching the Blueberry Festival Parade. Blueberry lovers can have their fill checking out the many products offered at Blueberry Central...and the list goes on.
To make the festival's many events a reality takes many volunteers.
“This past year the Chamber of Commerce came on board to help organize the festival,” Daggett said. “We have probably about three dozen volunteers and then there's all the service clubs that host events and dinners. But we could always use more volunteers.”
It also takes a lot of money to stage the festival that has consistently been named the town's favorite event in the Tribune's annual Best of South Haven contest.
“Overall, it costs anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000,” Daggett said. “So when we say it's free for people to attend, it is, but that's because of our many sponsors.”
Figuring out the logistics of the festival is also a major undertaking.
“We have events is so many areas,” Daggett said.
Concerts and children's activities take place at Riverfront Park; the Craft Fair sets up across town in Stanley Johnston Park; dinners, breakfasts and blueberry products are sold downtown at the Huron Street Pavilion; the beach volleyball tournaments and sand sculpture contest are held at North Beach; and the Fly-In and Antique Car Show are staged several miles away at South Haven Regional Airport.
But the wide variety of events and venues is what makes the festival so well-attended, Daggett noted.
“Overall, 50,000-60,000 people attend,” she said.
National Blueberry Festival Schedule of Events
The Bronk Bros. are the headliner act for Friday night, Aug. 8 at Riverfront Park.
Get set to enjoy 10 free outdoor concerts
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Get out that old time rock and roll, mix it in with honky tonk, pretend you're in Margaritaville and you'll know what to expect from the National Blueberry Festival headliners.
Bob Seger tribute band “Lookin' Back,” country rockers The Bronk Bros., and tropical rock band and Don Middlebrook and the Pearl Divers all plan to perform this weekend at Riverfront Mainstage, overlooking South Haven's harbor.
“The entertainment is probably one of the biggest draws to the festival,” said Brenda Daggett, a member of the festival committee. “It's a fun time, free...and what a better location?”
From Thursday through Sunday, festival goers will have their choice of 10 musical groups to listen to at Riverfront Park.
Local acts, primarily will begin the day's entertainment. They'll be followed by regional groups and finally the headline performers. The musical entertainment concludes Sunday afternoon with a beach party from 4-7 p.m., featuring tropical rock band Don Middlebrook and the Pearl Divers.
All of the concerts are outdoors. Listeners are asked to bring a lawn chair or blanket.
A schedule of entertainment follows:
Friday, Aug. 8