Ready, set, go… here comes the 2012 Manistee National Forest Festival

T.J. Schmidt & Company will again be offering carnival rides, games and food at Douglas Park First Street Beach starting July 4 at 2 p.m. (News Advocate File Photo)

MANISTEE — The American Flag and Independence Day go hand-in-hand and when Old Glory is sent up the flag pole at the corner of River and Division Streets at 9:45 a.m. on the Fourth of July, it will signify more than our country’s birthday.

What it will also mark is the opening event of the 76th Manistee National Forest Festival. To say that the festival starts off with a bang on Wednesday would be a major understatement. Some of the biggest events of the entire festival will take place on that day, beginning with the Independence Day Parade at 10 a.m. The parade will be begin at the corner of River and Division streets and run down a parade route to the Manistee National Guard Armory parking lot.

This year nearly 80 units will be entered in the annual parade that is always a festival favorite. Area bands, fire trucks, and entries of every kind will be a part of this event. As Manistee County Chamber of Commerce executive director Melissa Reed, said events like the parade and fireworks are really the family-type activities.

“It really brings families together,” said Reed. “It is a time when everyone comes home and enjoys being back in Manistee.”

Family fun is what July 4 is all about at the Manistee National Forest Festival and there are plenty of events following the parade that build on that theme. Reed pointed out that the festival draws a great deal of people to this area.

“We estimate that 20,000 people attend at least one festival event,” said Reed.

The Manistee County Historical Museum will be holding its “Woodworking for Pleasure, Profit and History” exhibit starting at 10 a.m. and running until 5 p.m. Admission fees to the exhibit are $1 for students, $3 for adults, $5 for adult couples and $7 for families.

Bargain hunters looking for the unique and unusual items might want to check out the Festival Marketplace and food vendors at First Street Beach Douglas Park. This fun event always has something to intrigue every age group.

People wanting to support the troops, and in particular, the members of the local Bravo Troop that are currently serving in Afghanistan should check out the Bravo Troop Hot Dog Stand and Garage Sale at the Manistee Armory parking lot from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

While in that area, the “toot, toot” sounds of the Little Smilin’ Choo Choo will be circling the Douglas First Street Beach area giving children rides from noon until dusk at a cost of $3 per person. When the kids get done taking a ride, they will not want to miss an up close and personal look at the animals in the Whispering Pines Mobile Zoo. Animals from all around the world will be on display at this fun exhibit.

Also, in the same area is the 2012 Michigan State Park Recreation RV program. This event will have information and games about state parks, camping, outdoor recreation other things about Michigan’s woods and waters. The RV they will have housing all this information is a 33-foot Class A Thor Hurricane wrapped in outdoor graphics.

It is a program that will be presented by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division. The exhibit will be open from 10 a.m. until dusk.

Kids continue to be the main focus on the Fourth of July as evident by the T.J. Schmidt and Company Carnival that will be running at Douglas First Street Beach Park from 2 p.m. until dusk.

Nothing says patriotism more than the colors red, white and blue and the Manistee Art Institute couldn’t agree more with that assessment. It is why they are hosting the “Red, White and Blue Show” at the T. Walter Hardy Hall from 1 to 8 p.m.

Manistee has one of the most beautiful settings for fireworks on the shores of Lake Michigan and this year Zambelli Fireworks are planning a real big show. They have done shows in the past and are planning some added treats this year.

However, before the show begins people should consider checking out the Forest Festival Tent where the music of the Salt City Dixie Land Band will lead up to the fireworks display.

Reed said the fireworks should be one of the big highlights of the festival.

“Last year we used a company called Great Lakes Fireworks and they were wonderful,” said Reed. “This year, because our fireworks are on the Fourth of July, they didn’t have enough crews to send one to Manistee. We have used Zambelli for years and last year Great Lakes used some really unique pyrotechnics, so we asked them if they could match it and they said they could do it. The event is being sponsored by the Little River Casino and Resort and the Manistee World of Arts and Crafts who put on the juried art show every year during the festival at Red Szymarek Park.

Reed said that type of generosity is what makes the festival work so well.

“We have been real fortunate to raise the money for the fireworks and they have lined up a great show,” said Reed. “They are going to do some fireworks that will explode in the sky and then land in the water and float for a while before they burn up. We have a safety zone set up both in the water and on the beach near that area so it is going to be secure in that area.”

 

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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