The 2019 Festival of Lights
set for December 7, 2019
See the link below.
The Christmas Festival of Lights program drew an amazing number of people into town in its first year during the Christmas season of 2010. Searching out all of the cookies they could find, visitors turned out for a marvelous day to open the Christmas season as hundreds of kids visited with Santa at the Depot, while the Fire Department collected canned goods and toys for those less fortunate during this season of giving.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the day was the “Cookie Tour”. Each family picked up their passports for the cookie tour and set out collecting cookies at 25 different locations around town and throughout the community. Whether it was just walking through downtown, or taking the horse and wagon rides to the Coe House Museum, most shuttled throughout the area seeking the stamps on their passports for a chance at the Christmas basket prizes at the Depot. With the afternoon pretty much occupied by looking for cookies, listening to music at the Depot, or simply wandering the businesses downtown, most occupied their time at one end of town or the other until the parade got underway at 4:00 p.m.
The streets were lined with people at the start of the parade with a host of creative attempts at lighting up, and sounding up, their different approaches in parade floats, all of which culminated in the lighting of the tree on the grounds of Whistlestop Park at 5:00 p.m. Hundreds of cups of hot chocolate were consumed as everyone awaited the arrival of Santa for the lighting of the tree adorned with more than 8,400 lights. At the designated time, the Mayor started the countdown as Santa made the final connection to light up the tree to applause and oooh’s and aaahh’s. As the spirit and hot chocolate warmed the hearts, Grass Lake native and Jackson County’s Rose Queen Casey McKay autographed pictures for a line of little girls inside the Depot.
An overall enjoyable day throughout Grass Lake, the spirit of Christmas was well underway thanks to the key coordination of Jennifer Crouch and Sharon Coppernoll and the crew of people that they put together to pull off another fine community event. Click on the link below to reach the Grass Lake Chamber website for more times and details.
The 4th festivities for 2019 will be held on Thursday, July 4, 2019. Keep an eye out for a change in starting times. A tradition that starts with a pancake breakfast and continues with the parade, chicken broil in the park and cardboard boat races, check the 4th festivities link by clicking on this link to the Chamber website at www.grasslakechamber.org.
The 4th of July festivities in Grass Lake has been a staple and tradition in the community for as long as anyone can remember, with the festivities always taking place on the 4th, regardless of what day the 4th may fall on. Starting with a pancake breakfast at the Federated Church, the day long program runs through a parade, normally starting around 10:00 a.m., and flowing to the Grass Lake County Park by around noon.
The parade draws thousands of participants as well as visitors as horses and wagons turn out for the day along with, classic antique and domestic tractors, politicians, fire departments, business establishments, clowns, entrepreneurs, churches, bands, and a host of floats all decked out in red, white and blue to celebrate Independence Day like every other community around the country. The parade typically hosts 125 to 175 entries each year and became a feature photo of the Grass Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Welcome Magazine” with a taste of Americana on its front page; the picture provided by the Michigan Center for the Photographic Arts.
The parade follows a route from East Avenue in the village, west along Michigan Avenue to Lake Street in downtown Grass Lake, and flows north from there to Grass Lake County Park on the shores of Grass Lake. There, participants and visitors are greeted with a chicken broil sponsored by the Grass Lake Sportsman’s Club with a host of additional activities in the park including a flag raising ceremony and assorted music activities throughout the afternoon.
Ultimately, those interested in a leisurely afternoon at the lake, stay around to soak up the sun and music for a relaxing afternoon of socializing, swimming or simply napping after the great chicken dinner. At dusk, the community typically remained, or returned, for the fireworks show. Packing the park and lining every nearby open street with people on blankets, either on the ground or on the hood of the car, the fireworks show went off with patriotic music in the background as those in attendance oooh’ed and ahhhh’ed with the colorful displays, some even singing to the music.
While the festivities continue to take place every year, a couple of adjustments sometimes have to be made. First, if the 4th falls on a Sunday, the parade start time is typically adjusted to noon rather than the normal 10:00 a.m. start time giving church goers time to attend services and get home to change clothes before the parade starts, and second, there has been no fireworks for the last several years. Indeed, the cost of the fireworks themselves exceeding $7,000 began burning into the chicken broil fundraising effort. Subsequently, cost and safety have become serious concerns for the community in these tough economic times, and until those issues can be addressed appropriately, there will be no fireworks.
Over the course of the renovation of the Depot in Downtown Grass Lake, Heritage Day ultimately evolved out of that process and became a day on which the community celebrated its heritage as a farming community and one of the thousands of communities that grew up around a key mode of transportation in the 1800’s; the railroad.
Just a small arts and crafts day that started on the grounds of the Depot, Heritage Day has evolved into a major arts and crafts show which closes two blocks of downtown Grass Lake to include a car show and an open house at the Coe House Museum, where the community can find much of its heritage in antiques, photo albums and records that have been maintained since the Coe House became a museum. Horse and wagon teams move people back and forth between the Coe House and the Depot while various styles of entertainment highlight the festivities at both locations.
Growing to some 55 booths in 2011, the crafts show on the street in downtown Grass Lake continues to be a popular attraction for many as the multitude of booths displays a host of crafts from a bygone era as well as more contemporary styles, while the car show displays the classics of the early 1900’s to the more recent 1980’s from classics maintained as they were off the production line to the modified street rods and muscle cars that developed through the 1970’s to 1990’s.
Originally held on the first weekend after Labor Day, the festivities were moved to Saturday of the Labor Day weekend as the host organization discovered that a number of folks lodged at campgrounds around the area were just looking for something to do on their holiday weekend. Ultimately, that became a limiting factor on the day, so the event was moved back to the first Saturday after Labor Day and continues that way today. Come on out and check it out. Examine the classics from the auto industry and a vast array of crafts and art work spanning the years.
The Spring Business Expo is one of the first events brought out by the Grass Lake Regional Chamber in 2006. Set up as an event to showcase the membership businesses in the area, more than 75 of the 100 members in the chamber entered the first Expo in 2006 with little idea what could be expected.
Held usually on the second or third weekend in March, the event proved successful with the attendance of nearly 1200 people over the weekend to take in the newest in wares by area businesses, and sample the value of local entertainment groups and entities. Providing incentives to stop by their booth, businesses posted attractive drawings and hourly door prizes to those who took in the show. As well, the Chamber itself put up some significant benefits to attendees with drawings for gas cards, TV’s, game consoles and a host of other interesting items.
First starting with the Expo in Grass Lake High School gymnasium, it was an ideal opportunity for the community to get a firsthand look at the newest facilities of Grass Lake Community Schools. As the Expo continued its wide growth to more than 92 booths and exhibits, the Expo moved to the George Long Elementary School in 2010. Again, an opportunity for the community to get a look at the newest facility in the school system, the Expo was moved back to the high school gymnasium in 2010 to take advantage of the latest addition of a multi-purpose room added to the gym.
Indeed, it turns out that late March, still cold and not yet warm enough, brings out a lot of people who may be feeling the effects of cabin fever. Check the calendar each year in late March for the next Spring Business Expo.
Check the Chamber website at www.grasslakechamber.org for more information on booth locations, application forms and other details.
2019 Traffic Jam’in is tentatively set for July 12 & 13, 2019
The Grass Lake Traffic Jam’in arose in 2009 in conjunction with the National Stock Outboard Races on Grass Lake as an approach to provide the boat racers and their families a night on the town in downtown Grass Lake to wrap up a week long racing event. The combination of racing boats with classic cars and hot rods seemed like a good combination for a street fair and party downtown.
The Chamber rallied 16 different non-profit organizations to pull together an organizing committee that was intent on making the boat racers feel at home and provide them a welcoming atmosphere that would have them wanting to return to Grass Lake for future national racing events. While no doubt intent on making some money, the different approach and organizational structure brought those 16 organizations together to supplement their current fundraising efforts with an event that nobody really had experienced before, with the possible exception of the Grass Lake Community Centennial in 1971.
Little did anybody know that the first inaugural Jam’in would far outpace the Centennial celebration; or any other event that had been held in Grass Lake before. The Friday Night Traffic Jam’in street fair filled the downtown of the Village with three blocks of people, classic cars, bands, food, car bashing, dunk tanks and fun for kids that ultimately topped what the Sheriff’s Department Mounted Division estimated at more than 4,000 people. Add to that the packed restaurants, bars and retail outlets that were open, as well as the concessions during the week of racing at Grass Lake County Park, and the non-profits topped more than $10,000 for the whole week, with a crowd of people that even life-long residents had never seen before.
Included among the non-profit groups engaged in the event were the Grass Lake United Methodist Church, Whistlestop Park Association, Grass Lake Historical Society, Grass Lake Lions Club and the Lions Leos Club, Friends of Jay Mead, AYSO 610 Soccer Club, the Boy Scouts Venture Group, Cub Scouts Pack 326, Girls Scouts Troop 121, The Grass Lake Education Foundation, Masonic Lodge #116, Grass Lake Relay for Life, the Grass Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Copper Nail Resale Shop and the Grass Lake Classic Car Club. Noting the success of the day, Ed Fuller, Chairman of the Board of the Copper Nail Resale Shop reported at a meeting of the Downtown Development Authority that they would return their share from the Jam’in festivities to the organizing committee to be disbursed to the other groups. Similarly, the Grass Lake Regional Chamber noted that it would foot the bill for the sales taxes for the Jam’in festivities on the street. Ultimately, those gestures may help to get each of the other non-profits over a $400 return on the night.
Set for July 30, 2011, the event came off without the attraction of the national races, but with a lot of requests for a re-run of a good night in Downtown Grass Lake. The festivities included a wider expansion of the entertainment schedule, introducing hometown son Kris Hitchcock and his band “Small Town Son”, with many of the same events and happenings from 2009 and 2010 carried through to 2011 with expanded games for teens and even more. For more information on the Jam’in, check the Chamber website at www.grasslakechamber.org.