PELLSTON – Community members in Pellston are banding together to launch a new festival over Memorial Day weekend, including live music, beer and wine tasting tents, an antique car show and a Memorial Day Parade over a five-day span.
In all, there are 31 different events planned for the extended weekend.
“We started talking about this back in November, and it just blew up on us,” said Pellston village president Jim Gillett. “I was a little worried that we might bite off more than we could chew, but they decided to go big.”
The inaugural MemorialFest will take place Thursday, May 26, and last through Memorial Day on May 30.
The festival grew from Pellston resident Bill Jewell’s interest to establish an antique car show, according to Bruce Maag, one of the event organizers. A fellow classic car enthusiast, Maag partnered with Jewell to launch a car show in the village in 2014.
“We’ve decided to name the car show after him, he unfortunately only got one in,” Maag said.
After Jewell passed away in 2015, Maag said the interest grew to expand the car show into a larger summer festival.
“As I looked around the area, every small town has a festival except Pellston,” Maag said.
Pellston used to host a festival called Summer Fest in June, but Gillett said it slowly faded over the years.
“One of the reasons that Summer Fest fell off is the same four or five did the same thing every year, and we got burned out. We tried to get more volunteers. But now we seem to have a strong core of volunteers,” Gillett said.
The new MemorialFest will combine elements from the two events, the car show and the previous summer festival, into a larger event for an extended Memorial Day weekend.
Michael Adams, owner of the toy store Jolly Lama, said he hopes events like this will help make Pellston more of a location for people to visit for long-standing festival traditions.
“We’re hoping to raise awareness about the things that are happening in Pellston and around the area. We’re basically pulling out all the stops and using all of our resources,” Adams said.
While the festival lineup is almost finalized, Maag said organizers are always looking for volunteers to help with events over the weekend.