As we enter autumn, most of the various festivals that are held annually, have taken place. You can still kick in autumn by attending the Annual Tecumseh Appleumpkin Festival. It’s a pretty cool event that takes place mid-October in downtown Tecumseh, Michigan, and offers an arts & crafts show, helicopter rides, and a midway of rides and carnival games. 

The festival year for Michigan begins in January with Tip Up Town USA, at Houghton Lake. The Tulip Time Festival, the first week in May in Holland, is a traditional start to spring. And we surely can’t forget the Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival each July in Battle Creek and RibFest, which brings BBQ and music to Kalamazoo each August. 

So What Is The Oldest Festival In Michigan? 

Actually, Southwest Michigan can boast of hosting two of the oldest events in Michigan. The Calhoun County Fair is the oldest county fair in Michigan, with its beginnings in 1839. The fairgrounds were founded on 45 acres in 1848 and many of the original oak trees are still present on the beautiful landscape. The oldest festival in Michigan is the Blossomtime Festival which is hosted by the communities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph at the beginning of May. 

The Goose Lake International Music Festival Was The Largest Festival In Michigan

Thousands of young concertgoers throng into the Goose Lake International Music Festival
Bradley Steven Carpenter

What is “Blossomtime” All About? 

It was in 1906 when the Rev. W.J. Cady of the First Congregational Church, in Benton Harbor, urged his parishioners to drive through the orchards and view the fruit blossoms. He termed them the “symbols of life renewed”. 

The Southwest corner of Michigan has long been regarded as a premier fruit-growing region. As early as 1891 the Graham and Morton Steamship Company began offering special rates to visitors willing to cross the lake from Chicago to enjoy the orchard tours. In 1923, a local fruit processor, Fred L. Granger, and the Reverend Joshua O. Randall came up with the idea of a floral parade. In 1924, Catherine Burrell, of Benton Harbor, became the first Blossomtime Queen. 

The Perfect Storm For Fruit And Vegetables 

The Southwest corner of Michigan offers the perfect blend of nature that produces impressive fruit and vegetables, thanks to Lake Michigan. The rich sandy loam soil, moderate spring temperature from the proximity of the lake, and the tempering effect on summer by the lake all contribute to the exceptional cosmetic appearance and superior taste. This corner gem of Michigan continues to provide flavorful peaches, sweet Niagara grapes, and a variety of apples, melons, tomatoes, and tart cherries. 

Looking Back At The Goose Lake International Music Festival

Armed with a trusty Kodak camera, I was a 17-year-old bohemian, attending the Goose Lake International Music Festival that was held August 7-9, 1970, in Jackson County, Michigan. The Goose Lake festival was Michigan's answer to the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, which was held just a year earlier in Bethel, New York. Here are a few photos which survived over the years.

Gallery Credit: Brad Carpenter

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