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River Raisin Festival in Blissfield honoring the bicentennial

BLISSFIELD — The second weekend in July is always a special time for Blissfield.

It is the weekend when the village celebrates its hometown in the form of its annual River Raisin Festivala three-day offering of carnival rides, food, vendors, events, activities and free stage entertainment along the River Raisin.

This year’s festival, which begins Thursday, July 11 and continues through Saturday, July 13, at both Bachmayer and Ellis parks, not only celebrates 40 years of summer festivities in Blissfield, but also honors Blissfield’s 200th anniversary year.

It’s proving to be a busy summer in Blissfield with a milestone reached for the River Raisin Festival, and an even more impressive milestone for the Bicentennial of the village itself.

“It’s a cool thing that four decades (of the festival) have passed since this started,” said Rick Allen, chairman of the Blissfields River Raisin Festival. “We’re starting to see a resurgence in the way things have been before.”

An example of that resurgence includes the number of vendors lined up for this weekend. The Bachmayer Park side of the festival will be packed to the brim with various arts and crafts vendors, and additional types of vendors, Allen said. The Ellis Park side of the festival, which includes the carnival grounds and the weekend-long softball tournament, also looks packed with vendors and plenty of food options.

For those who don’t know, Bachmayer and Ellis parks are separated by the River Raisin – Bachmayer to the west and Ellis to the east. There are two footbridges that festival goers can use to get from one park to another. An arched footbridge spans the River Raisin in the park system and another footbridge parallels the US 223 road.

A new carnival company is bringing its rides and other amusements to the River Raisin Festival, Allen said. Family Fun Tyme Amusements, which provides carnivals for events in Michigan, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, has been in town for the past few days preparing for this weekend. Many of the rides are marketed toward the younger crowd, Allen said, but there should be plenty of big rides to please all ages of thrill seekers.

There will be several tie-ins during the festival weekend highlighting Blissfield’s bicentennial, Allen said.

The annual River Raisin Festival parade on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. is themed the Bicentennial Parade. It will continue on the same route as previous years from the Blissfield Community School campus down South Lane Street through downtown, onto US 223 and onto Depot Street on the way back to the school.

Throughout the weekend, vendors are encouraged to decorate their booths in a patriotic red, white and blue scheme. The newly crowned Miss River Raisin Festival, during Friday night’s scholarship program, will tour the festival grounds this weekend and will select the overall best-decorated vendor booth, where an award will be presented to the winner, Allen said.

At 7 p.m. Thursday on the Main Pavilion Stage in Bachmayer Park, the Miss Bliss Bicentennial Spirit Pageant will be where women from the Blissfield area, ages 70 or older, will compete to be the Queen of the Blissfield Bicentennial Celebration scheduled for July later this month . 27-28. A similar pageant took place 50 years ago, crowning a Blissfield Sesquicentennial Queen in 1974.

Most events on Thursday and Friday start after 18. The last day of the festival, Saturday, begins with the parade and continues for the rest of the day until 23.00.

Kids’ Corner, located near the pedestrian bridge in Bachmayer Park, is sponsored by Bailey Family Chiropractic and is expanding for this year, Allen said. He attributes this expansion to the efforts of Nikki Dotson, who has brought such attractions to the Kids’ Corner as character meet and greets, a karaoke and bubble party, free arts and crafts, bounce houses, a petting zoo and a new sensory table/calming area.

“We’re making more of a conscious effort for the kids who come out (to the festival) who may have special needs with the addition of a sensory tent and a place where they can get away to have some downtime and quite some time,” Allen said.

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Kiddie tractor pulls, kids’ archery and a Touch-a-Truck event from noon to 4pm on Saturday are some of the other highlights for the kids.

The Weenie Dog Race returns for a second year at 2pm on Saturday to the dog park in Ellis Park, and the Duck Race – also known as the Capt. Joe Gallo Memorial Duck Race – is back at 7pm on Saturday.

“…We hope to offer a quality product to the public for everyone to enjoy,” Allen said.

Uckele Health and Nutrition and Blissfield State Bank are the main sponsors of Friday night’s fireworks show starting at dusk.

Here’s a rundown of the stage entertainment at the River Raisin Festival. For further information, please visit riverraisinfestival.org.

The main pavilion stage

Thursday, July 11

  • 18:30 Winner of the Baby Blissfield competition.
  • 19.00 Miss Bliss Bicentennial Spirit Queen Pageant.

Friday, July 12

  • 6 p.m. 29th Annual Miss River Raisin Festival Scholarship Pageant, featuring Miss Michigan and 2023 Miss River Raisin Festival Samantha McGaughy.
  • 9pm to 11pm Metro Soul Band.

Saturday, July 13

  • 12.00pm to 1.30pm Blissfield Ministerial Association Concert.
  • 2pm River Raisin Festival Variety Show.
  • 6pm to 8pm Stealin’ Copper.
  • 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Under the influence.

— Contact reporter Brad Heineman at [email protected] or follow him on X, formerly Twitter: twitter.com/LenaweeHeineman.

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