Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Nearly 130 Artists & Crafters At 34th Wild Blueberry Festival in Paradise

Paradise, Michigan - - Friday, August 17, the Wild Blueberry Festival, established in 1984, will begin with its highly attended Blueberry Brunch at 9 AM until noon each day.  Some 130 artisans ranging from Mari-time arts, oil and acrylic paintings, refurbished furniture, herbalist, metal sculptures, fishing lures, fiber artists, chefs, and jewelers will be descending on Paradise at the Whitefish Township Community Center.  94% of the artists hail from Michigan, 31% from the Upper Peninsula.  The art show is open from 9 – 5 Friday, 9 -5 Saturday, and 9 – 4 Sunday. 

Making the Wild Blueberry Festival extraordinary is the broad range of entertainers roaming through the arts and crafts show and performing live on stage within the community center.  This year’s entertainers include the always popular juggler/daredevil/magician from Sault Ste Marie, Chet Mitchell; Jewls the Clown, Doc Pawlaczyk’s Family Medicine Man Show, Papa Crow, Michael Deren as an 1875 Schooner Captain, a  mime, Michael Lee, Carl “Bearfoot” Behrend,  Richard Paul, Ventriloquist,  Soleil Garcia-Johnson, Pianist, and The Blue Water Ramblers.   2018 is the second year that the Buggy Down Carriage Company will be offering a petting zoo and pony-ring rides for children of all ages at the Whitefish Township Community Schools, slightly north of the community center on M-123 from noon until 3PM Friday and Saturday, and from 10 until 1 pm on Sunday.    Details for the weekend’s schedule and entertainers can be found in a Wild Blueberry Festival brochure available at Visitor’s centers in the area or www.WildBlueberryFestival.org.

Don’t forget to stop by the Blueberry Bake Sale inside the community center; open from 9 – 5 PM Friday and Saturday and 9-4 PM on Sunday.  Delectable treats available include handmade Wild Blueberry Pie, muffins, Wild Blueberry Sauce, and buckle.  A popular treat is the Blue Streak made with a piece of Wild Blueberry Pie, topped with vanilla ice cream, wild blueberry sauce, and whipped cream.   Whole pies and jars of Wild Blueberry Sauce will be available as well.  Oh, don’t ask for cherry pie, as this is the Wild Blueberry Festival.  Each year, someone asks for Wild Blueberries.  They are available for the picking along the trails and two tracks of Whitefish Township.

Since its inception the Wild Blueberry Festival has offered Wild Blueberry related competitions. 
This year is no different.  Friday at 2:30 pm and Saturday at 2:30 pm enthusiastic children will be meeting at the Souvenir Tent at the community center to get organized for the Blueberry Pie Eating Contest sponsored by the Berry Patch in Paradise.

Friday and Saturday’s evening Blueberry Jamboree offers free buggy rides from Sawmill Creek at 6 PM until Dusk with the Buggy Down Carriage Company.   Carl “Bearfoot” Behrend will be performing from 6 PM – 7 PM at Sawmill Creek Park, Friday evening, kicking off this year’s Blueberry Jamboree. A locally popular guitarist, Raan McLean is headlining, the Friday evening Blueberry Jamboree at Sawmill Creek located just north of the Paradise Inn at 7:30 PM and will be performing Saturday evening from 6 PM  -7 PM, kicking off Saturday evenings Blueberry Jamboree. Project 906 will be headlining Saturday evening beginning at 7:30 PM.  Bring your favorite lawn chairs and get comfortable for this popular outdoor concert.

The 2018 Wild Blueberry Festival Chairperson, Wendy Skeans extends her sincerest appreciation to the many volunteers that contribute to the success of each year’s festival.  The steering committee of 12 volunteers meets a short time after the festival, to review what worked and didn’t work, and they begin plans for the next year.   This is one major event in the Whitefish Township Community that utilizes residents, seasonal residents, and visitors from downstate.  From pie building done in July, to pie baking and serving it takes many hands to support the entire event.  In appreciation to the community funds raised by the festival a given back to the community; two years ago, the festival contributed equipment to the Whitefish Township Fire Department. This last year the festival contributed to the library, the school’s playground improvement fund, winter decorations and new summer banners for the Paradise community. 

The ever popular Souvenir Tent will be offering popular t-shirts, sweatshirts, and assorted accessories to commemorate the festival throughout the weekend.  The festival chairperson expressed appreciation to the many donations from area businesses for the Fish Bowl activity and the corporate sponsors: Cloverland Electric, the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, and the Hiawatha Telephone Company. The Fish Bowl , game of chance,  will be available inside the community center from 11 to 4 PM each day.  It is a popular activity for people at all ages.

Recognizing the culture and heritage of the Wild Blueberry in the Paradise area, the Wild Blueberry Festival Committee with the support of the Paradise Area Chamber of Commerce has developed a great program for 2018.