Harvest Festival to close out Shelby Farmers Market

Restoration process continues full-speed at Packard Proving Grounds

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published October 16, 2017

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Autumn hues and seasonal harvest favorites will be on hand during the Harvest Festival, the last weekly event of the 2017 Shelby Farmers Market season at the Packard Proving Grounds.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, the Shelby Farmers Market will feature an array of farmers and vendors, as well as live music and free tours of the historic site, rain or shine.

“This is a great time to stock up on all your favorite farmers market products, get a head start on your holiday shopping and find all the fun autumn décor items that make this season so special,” said market manager Mary Anne Demo. “This is truly a fun family event, with free crafts and games for kids, plus entertainment too.”

Demo said Walter Hooper, of A Man Named Hooper, will be performing, and the public is encouraged to sign up for a free tour of the main historic buildings at 11 a.m. and noon.

“It’s a good way to capture some history while having fun,” Demo said.

Some of the market’s offerings include pumpkins, cornstalks, straw, Indian corn, winter squash, gourds, syrups, jams, jellies, honey, eggs, fresh breads and more.

Amish farmers from Mio, Michigan, a popular market presence, will make an appearance during the final bash to offer frozen beef, pork, chicken and lamb products, as well as the opportunity to order a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving. The farmers will also bring a selection of baked goods and farm-fresh eggs.

Proceeds from the Shelby Farmers Market benefit the nonprofit Packard Motor Car Foundation, whose goal is to fully restore the 17-acre automotive site.

Tom Mitchell, a volunteer with the Packard Motor Car Foundation, said the site has been receiving donations of classic Packards and now has a fleet of approximately 15 cars, with two more coming on long-term loan.

As far as the restoration process, Mitchell said volunteers have been busy coordinating the repaving of one of the main parkways, which was set to occur immediately after an Oct. 15 open house, with the other scheduled for the spring.

He said the nonprofit is working on upgrading electrical systems, refinishing original hardwood flooring, repairing plaster and installing new custom gutters in the lodge, as well as making improvements to the second floor and stairways to bring the building up to code.

In the repair garage, Mitchell said, the group recently had the concrete floor refinished to look more like terrazzo, had the windows outfitted with interior storm proofing, and redid the food preparation area with stainless steel countertops and all-new commercial-grade appliances.

He said custom lighting and doors made to replicate those that were in the building originally are being completed.

In the building known as the engineering building, whose initial purpose was to test tanks during World War II, he said the group created a vault where it is in the process of digitizing thousands of images related to Packard, including glass negatives from the 1920s.

“We will probably have the most extensive library of Packard-related materials anywhere when we get done with it,” he said. “Every week (we are scanning) more images. We’ve probably got a total inventory now of 500.”

The group is also creating a ladies restroom and changing area for the brides who choose the historic site as their wedding venue.

Conversely, in a building known as the carriage garage, Mitchell said volunteers are in the process of restoring an existing men’s restroom with multiple stalls and urinals.

Lastly, he said, the group widened concrete walkways that connect several of the buildings and is renovating, restoring and modernizing a small building off the courtyard to provide a working office for Demo, who also plans the other events at the site.

“I think we did a nice job in creating a period-correct space for her,” Mitchell said. “The walls are all finished with paneling salvaged from the Packard plant in Detroit, and there’s the original wood floor in there.”

The Packard Proving Grounds are located at 49965 Van Dyke Ave., between 22 Mile and 23 Mile roads. For more information, visit ShelbyFarmersMarket.com or call (586) 843-5785.