‘Fun on the Farm’ as town meets country for 31st Annual River Raisin Festival

When approaching the 31st Annual Blissfield River Raisin Festival, be sure to take in the surrounding farmland where the corn will be just about ready to tassel and the wheat will be harvested leaving golden fields, if all is going according to schedule at festival time July 9-12.

And if you think farm life looks fun … plan to have a lot of “Fun on the Farm!” at the 2014 festival. The festival gets a head start with a sand sculpture sponsored by Blissfield Insurance Agency depicting a surprise theme starting to take shape on Tuesday, then the carnival opening Wednesday evening.

By Thursday night, the tractors will be rolling in for a Tractor Show in Ellis Park and the classic cars and bikes will be parking in downtown Blissfield for a Town and Country Fun Night! There will even be a Hoedown on the Pavilion Stage with line dancing and square dancing throughout the evening. And pie-eaters … be sure to sign up for a pie-eating contest Saturday featuring Beckey’s Kountry Kitchen homemade pies!

Two glorious nights of fireworks are being presented by Adrian and Blissfield Rail Road Co. and the Old Road Dinner Train, which ought to be chugging into station from their weekend evening cruises as the big show overhead lights up the Friday and Saturday night skies, July 11 and 12. Best of all, admission continues to be free for the summer event. Because of business sponsorships, the festival will offer to all who wish to attend three free stages of entertainment, crafts, children’s activities, a major parade, a Miss America local preliminary pageant and more.

Organizers are inviting visitors to come for a “Staycation” weekend and to enjoy the many facets of the festival — again, with no admission charge. Held in the charming Village of Blissfield, the festival continues to improve each year. The festival grounds are just south of U.S. 223 at the three bridges (actually, there are now four bridges in succession over the River Raisin), and west of the downtown area. However, it isn’t just a party (though a grand party it definitely is), but it’s also an important cog in the charitable wheel of this unique community. Many organizations, clubs and churches raise significant percentages of their funds with activities, raffles, drawings and more during festival weekend.

The theme of “Fun on the Farm!” is such an obvious one that some committee members thought it had been used before. But no! Blissfield — even its name says “agriculture” — was founded smack dab in the middle of what has become some of the best farmland in the tri-state area. The corn grows tall and lush, the wheat bends with heavy heads, and the soybeans bush out almost waist-high, not to mention the vegetables and fruits grown in the area. A newRiver Raisin Festival Market Place is planned all week, sponsored by Green Plains Energy, which makes ethanol just east of the village. Festival-goers can buy home-grown produce and hand-made items in the farmers’ market, which includes crafters. It’s not too late to be a displayer. Go to www.blissfield.net for more details on setting up a booth!

Wednesday, July 8

A NEW DESIGN! Giant Sand Sculpture

Ohio sand sculptor Roger Powell, who started a tradition in 1999 with a simple sand sculpture which has become an annual tradition in his home town of Findlay, Ohio, will begin transforming an enormous pile of sand into a work of art reflective of the theme. Thank Blissfield Insurance Agency and Pioneer State Mutual for sponsoring this year’s unique creation. The design will take shape throughout the week. For more, see www.Walkingon Common Ground.com.


Even before the carnival rolls into Blissfield with its colorful array of top-notch thrill rides and children’s rides, games and concessions, the festival will be selling reduced-rate presale, unlimited, one-day ride tickets for $15 (normal all-day ride rates are $20; these are good any day of the carnival) at Borchardt Brothers Market and The Advance in Blissfield in an effort to provide breaks for families who wish to entertain their children at affordable prices in a challenging economy. Presale ends at noon Wednesday. The carnival opens at 5 p.m. Wednesday with an exciting midway featuring everything from thrill rides to children’s rides for tots, along with games and concessions.

Thursday, July 10

TOWN & COUNTRY NIGHT! NEW! Tractor Show in the Park Anyone with a tractor is invited to drive in starting at 4 p.m. to the Ellis Park side of the River Raisin (enter from the Pearl Street entrance) and display your classics as well as the latest-and-greatest models of farming equipment. NO entry fee! Just be prepared for a lot of looking and swapping of stories!

Car & Bike Show Downtown

The Blissfield River Raisin Festival Car and Bike Show has NO entry fee! By moving the event into Blissfield’s downtown, organizer Mike Ennis is hoping to attract the largest number of classic, antique, unique and souped-up vehicles and motorcycles ever! Lots of door prizes will be awarded . For details, please visit www.blissfield.net or contact Mike Ennis at mennis29@frontier.com or 734-755-5593. Registration starts at 4p.m.


The carnival will open at 5 p.m. with concessions, rides and games for all ages. All-you-can ride for $15 on this night only or with presale bracelets for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Otherwise, all-you-can ride will be $20 Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Giant Sand Sculpture Check in on Roger Powell’s progress as the sand sculpture, sponsored by Blissfield Insurance Agency and Pioneer State Mutual, begins to really take shape.

BACK AGAIN!! Bingo! The Blissfield Athletic Boosters will open their pavilion (white Rotary Pavilion in Ellis Park, east side of river near the baseball field) will be calling the letters and numbers from 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Friday and from 3-10 p.m. Saturday.

Three Stages of Entertainment get the ball rolling The Tugboat Stage sponsored by D&P Cable, in Kids’ Corner opens with My Adventure Theater, an interactive theater experience with costumed characters who will be roaming the park and presenting onstage throughout the evening, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The Princess Walk, “Fun on the Farm Jr.” begins at 6 p.m. Thursday on the Pavilion Stage in Bachmayer Park. Girls 3-12 will be onstage with the Miss River Raisin Festival Pageant contestants and Miss River Raisin Festival Nicole Miller. Each will be crowned!

It’s a Hoedown!

Dance the night away on the Pavilion Stage. Professional squares caller and line-dancing, too. Something for all! Kids’ Corner The fun begins in Kids’ Corner with Lowe’s providing a make-and-take project. There will be picnic games, crafts and activities by local churches, pedal tractor races, stick pony races and more — ALL FREE! The Kelly’s Inflatables will be ready for more bouncing and laughter. And the Toledo Zoo will be there with animals each night from 6-8 p.m.

Festival Marketplace!

Concessions, vendors, crafters and more What’s a farm-themed festival without a farmers’ market? A new Farmers’ Market sponsored by Green Plains Renewable Energy will present the best in homegrown and handmade! Anyone interested in displaying should visit www.blissfieldadvance.com for information! Many booths will be open with fun festival foods and festive goods on Thursday night, with more arriv ing

Friday. Friday, July 11

Three Stages of Entertainment

The Tugboat sponsored by D&P Cable, in the Kids’ Corner, opens at 4:30 p.m. on the west side of the river with the Wannabees, with fun career inspiration for preschoolers with costumed real-life characters such as a policeman, doctor, construction person, etc., and a second show at 6:30 p.m. Joel Tacey of Tip Top Entertainment will have shows at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. He juggles, he works his magic, he walks on stilts, he’s funny and kids of all ages love him. Watch for him stilt-walking around the park! Over on the Dockside Deck, located at the east side of the footbridge, enjoy Stephen E. Woodley and Suburban Soul from 7-10 p.m.. They play a little of everything and really get the crowd going.

The 20th Annual Miss River Raisin Festival Scholarship Pageant begins at 6 p.m. on the Pavilion Stage in Bachmayer Park. This is the only Miss America local pageant for Lenawee County. The 19 former titleholders have been invited back for the show to see the 20th Miss River Raisin Festival crowned. The newly crowned Miss Michigan will be featured along with seven contestants from all over Lenawee County  — Olivia Miller of Riga, Danielle Johnson of Adrian, Emily Wolfe of Blissfield, Devon Layman of Blissfield, Jocelyn Near of Adrian, Mikayla Humphries of Adrian and Grace Demerath of Clinton — and Nicole Miller, who was crowned a year ago as Miss River Raisin Festival 2013. Miller was named first runner-up at the recent Miss Michigan 2014 pageant in Muskegon.

Former Miss River Raisin Festival Rachel Wandell will emcee. It is hoped that the program will reach the $100,000-mark this year in total scholarships awarded through the 20 years. Borchardt Brothers Market is the event sponsor once again this year, and major scholarship sponsors are Knapp Motors, Blissfield Rotary, Ogden Communications, Blissfield Coney Island, and Yeutter & Associates (as of press time; more are being sought), as well as individual contributors. The winner will represent Lenawee County at Miss Michigan in June 2015.


The Blissfield Athletic Boosters will be calling the numbers from 5-9 p.m. Full Swing The festival is indeed in full swing on Friday, July 11, with concessions, merchant vendors, arts and crafts and the carnival all going full-tilt all evening long. Lines are long for elephant ears, homemade lemonade and all sorts of festival food on Friday night. The Kids’ Corner activities get underway, too, with Kelly’s Inflatables back for a lot of bouncy fun! The Toledo Zoo will have different animals children can see and touch, too! Softball Tournament The annual River Raisin Festival softball tournament begins at 6 p.m. Friday and lasts through Saturday. Please see www.blissfield.net to register your team for this marathon event.

FIREWORKS sponsored by Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Co. and The Old Road Dinner Train!!

Fireworks are the biggest draw during the Blissfield River Raisin Festival in July. On Friday night of the annual party on the River Raisin, vehicles are parked in every lot and on just about every street in the village for the kabooms and sparkling display over the river and parks. Just look up! Enjoy the Friday night’s display from wherever you choose as it will be just as spectacular as in past years, thanks to the premiere sponsorship provided by Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Co., and The Old Road Dinner Train which has generously agreed to again sponsor both nights of the fireworks shows. Please thank them!

Saturday, July 12

Festival Parade

Entries are still being accepted for the big River Raisin Festival “Fun on the Farm!” Parade sponsored by United Bank and Trust and Green Plains Renewable Energy, which begins at 10:30 a.m. For details and entry form, please see www.blissfield.net and register your parade unit. The parade begins at Blissfield Community Schools, proceeds down Lane Street into the downtown, turns onto U.S. 223 , and then heads back to the school via Depot Street. Shriners units, farm equipment, clowns, marching bands, queens, floats, tractors, classic cars, emergency vehicles and more make a parade that usually lasts at least 45 minutes. Bring your chairs and come early for the best seats. Bring your parade unit and get right in the middle of the fun!

NEW! Pie-eating Contest

If you love Beckey’s Country Kitchen homemade pies, show how fast you can eat one at this new event, specially created for the “Fun on the Farm!” theme. There will be a category for adults with apple pies and smaller cream pies for the kids. Pre-entry is greatly encouraged and there is a small entry fee to help cover the cost of cash prizes! See www.blissfieldadvance.com for details. Limited walk-ups will be accepted, based on how many pies are available after pre-registration. Look for this on the west side of the River, near the Pavilion Stage. Time is 2 p.m. Saturday.


The Blissfield Athletic Boosters will host Bingo from 3-9 p.m. Enjoy a shady spot and some competition!

Antique Tractor Pulls

The always-popular antique tractors pull in the pulling area on the west side of Bachmayer Park Saturday afternoon. Carnival It’s a big day at the carnival Saturday as kids ride all day and into the evening.

Pavilion Stage

Featuring calypso, Caribbean and jazz music, the ever-popular 21st Century Steel Band — a perennial festival favorite — returns to the Pavilion Stage at noon. “Michael Kernahan’s 21st Century Steel Orchestra is Miami’s strongest link to the steel pan music of Trinidad and Tobago. Kernahan, a Trinidad native who builds the pans (more commonly known as steel drums) he plays, has put together an ensemble that numbers as many as 40, though he plays with more manageable groups at local venues. “They’re the leading steel pan band in South Florida,” says Stephen Stuempfle, curator of the South Florida Historical Museum and a steel pan scholar. The music has roots in the Caribbean, but before that, Africa — though much of it consists of adaptations of jazz and calypso standards.” The 21st Century Steel band will also perform downtown during the parade at 10:30 a.m. Expression through Dance, a Blissfield dance studio, attracts a big crowd every year. This year at 2:30 p.m., be sure to see the show Brandi Archer’s dancers have in store. This is a colorful theatrical-type production each year, so be sure to check it out. At 4:30 p.m., teen heartthrob TJ Craven, who sings the music of Dean Martin, Elvis, Johnny Cash, John Michael and more, will perform. Last year, the young entertainer with the fantastic voice drew a huge crowd to enjoy his vast repertoire of standards. A Saturday night concert and dance sponsored by Blissfield State Bank will feature Detroit’s favorite country rock band, The Taylor Tucky Band. The band will perform from 8 to 11:30 p.m. So grab your supper, sit in the bleachers or in the shade and settle in for their unique sound. They bring an unbelieveable playlist to Blissfield as Saturday’s evening show. There are benches and bleachers, but you may want to bring a comfortable lawn chair for this one!

Kids’ Corner

Families! Don’t miss Saturday in Kids Corner,where there will be picnic games, crafts and activities by local churches, pedal tractor races, stick pony races and more — ALL FREE! The Kelly’s Inflatables will be ready for more bouncing and laughter. There will be a visit from the Toledo Zoo animals, and much, much more. Have talented kids? Enter the Kidtastic Talent Show at 5 p.m.

Tugboat Stage

On the Tugboat Stage, sponsored by D&P Cable, the fun begins with The Huckleberry Hounds and Therapy Dogs dog show! Paul McCormack and his Classroom Critters will take the stage at 2 p.m. Children will have a chance to meet (and sometimes even hold or pet) all sorts of animals, possibly including large snakes, rose tarantulas, Amazon tree frogs, chinchillas and more. Mr. McCormack talks about and demonstrates certain abilities and adaptations of the animals that help them survive in their habitat, helping to instill in children the same wonderment and awe that he feels for the animals. Kids will love a Puppet Sing Along with Brian and Friends which brings family music to the stage at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Kidtastic Talent Show

At 5 p.m., talented local kids will perform their dances, song and other acts in the non-competitive Kidtastic Talent Show. Please visit www.blissfield.net for details on participating. The show is on the Tugboat Stage and gives all children a chance to show their talents in a warm and friendly environment.

Dockside Deck

Kelly Pace will bring a country sound with lead vocals and guitar to the Dockside Deck beginning at 11:30 a.m. Starting at 2:30 p.m., Stephen E. Woodley will appear solo after performing Friday with his band. Mystic Word is the evening’s entertainment. This musical group will begin playing at 6:30 p.m. and entertain until just before the fireworks show.

Sand Sculpture

Don’t miss the sand sculpture on this final day of the festival. Meet sculptor Roger Powell and take some photos before it turns to sand again! Sponsored by Blissfield Insurance Agency/Pioneer State Mutual.

Merchant Vendors, Arts and Crafts

Do a little early Christmas or birthday gift shopping, or look for things for yourself and your home. A great variety of quality items will be offered this year in the park. If you don’t want to carry your purchases around, stop by and “check” them at the festival headquarters tent, next to the arch bridge on the Ellis Park side.

Marathon Softball Tournament

The annual River Raisin Festival softball tournament continues and concludes Saturday night. Please see www.blissfield.net to register your team for this marathon event.

FIREWORKS sponsored by Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Co. and The Old Road Dinner Train!!

And at dusk, just look up from wherever you are because a second phenomenal Colonial Fireworks show will celebrate our 31st year with a bang and a great aerial display. Without sponsor Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Co. and The Old Road Dinner Train these shows would not be possible. We thank them! Wherever you are, just look up and enjoy!

DIRECTORY!For a directory of festival contacts as well as a schedule, stop at festival headquarters on the east side of the bridge. T-shirts will be available

Workers were hard on the giant sand sculpture that will welcome visitors to the 31st Annual River Raisin Festival. Blissfield Insurance Agency and Pioneer State Mutual are sponsoring the sculpture. Copyright 2014, River Raisin Publications, Inc./Melissa Burnor

The Adrian and Blissfield Rail Road Co. and The Old Road Dinner Train are presenting two nights of fireworks for the Blissfield River Raisin Festival – Friday, July 11 and Saturday, July 12.

at headquarters all weekend (on the east side of the footbridge). To register for any of these events or for more details as they unfold, visit www.blissfield.net for registration forms and contact numbers.