Venetian Festival set for July 18-20

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published July 9, 2014

ST. CLAIR SHORES — It’s coming back, bigger and better than before.

The St. Clair Shores Venetian Festival on the Nautical Mile will kick off July 18 with a beer and wine pub crawl and an open barbecue with tiki bar at the Jefferson Yacht Club. The fun will continue throughout the weekend, culminating with a show by the Ultimate Air Dogs July 20 in front of Blossom Heath Inn.

“You have to incorporate the community so that’s what we did; we made it bigger,” said organizer Geri Hofmann. “All the St. Clair Shores committees we could get, we tried to get involved.”

The Venetian Festival is a signature event of the Nautical Mile Merchants Association, and chairperson Donna Flaherty said, this year, they wanted to make it huge.

“When we started planning this, back in November, I thought we should have more of the community of St. Clair Shores involved,” she said. “With the assistance of Geri, we made contact and brought them forth, and that way they can raise money for themselves.”

Hofmann said there will be a large tent set up on an empty lot between Stephens and Ridgeway on Jefferson Avenue. The Activities Committee will provide crafts for children and facepainting, there will be an inflatable obstacle course and a dunk tank run by the Parade Committee where you can pay a small fee to try to dunk local dignitaries, including the mayor. Also under the tent will be a farmers market, plus arts and crafts vendors brought in by the St. Clair Shores Women’s Civic League.

“Everything’s local,” she said. “This is just local vendors and everything from honey to soap.”

The Optimists Club of St. Clair Shores will also be selling hotdogs and nachos in the big tent, and Shorewood Kiwanis will host free family fishing Saturday afternoon from 12-4 p.m. at the Nine Mile Boat Ramp.

“We invited all these committees to come, and any money they make is theirs,” Hofmann said.

There will be food and drink specials at the Nautical Mile restaurants throughout the weekend, and also free water taxis and land shuttles to get diners from place to place. The Friday night wine and beer pub crawl is $20 per person; tickets are available at; search for Crawl the Mile Beer and Wine Tasting.

And the events continue to add up: the JYC will host a pet adoption event from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 19 and 20, and there will be a 5k fun run beginning at 9 a.m. July 19 to benefit 4 Paws 1 Heart; registration begins at 8 a.m. The walk is $25 for adults and $15 for children 6-17 years old, and all proceeds go to help pay for medical treatment for abandoned and abused animals. There will also be kayak and paddleboard rentals available for visitors to take advantage of Lake St. Clair.

Sunday will feature the Ultimate Air Dogs show in a 22,000 gallon tank set up in front of Blossom Heath Inn, Flaherty said.

“These dogs leap off and they perform in the water,” she said.

The free shows will begin at 12 p.m. July 20 and run until about 6 p.m. She said dogs are already signed up to perform and coming from surrounding suburbs as well as out-of-state.

“This will be great for the people attending the festival,” she said.

Hofmann said the JYC will also have a pancake breakfast July 20 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

“They’re really having a lot of stuff all weekend,” she said. “It’ll be open to the public all weekend.”

Hofmann said she always wanted to see the Venetian Festival expand to create a great summertime experience in St. Clair Shores.

“We’re trying to get families down and not just St. Clair Shores (residents),” she said. “I’d like people to come down and see what the Nautical Mile has. It should be something every day and something for kids and adults.”

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