Farmington gears up for 49th Founders Festival

By: Mary Beth Almond | Farmington Press | Published June 24, 2013


FARMINGTON — For 49 years, the Downtown Farmington Founders Festival has been entertaining people of all ages with a variety activities, and this year will be no exception, according to Downtown Development Authority Events Coordinator Janet Bloom.

Officials from the Farmington DDA, now in its third year of managing the event, said plans are being finalized for this year’s festival — a three-day community celebration featuring crafts, food, entertainment, a parade and a host of other activities centered in downtown Farmington.

“We are excited to keep this event going and vibrant within the community, and we invite everybody to come and attend,” Bloom said.

As many as 150,000 people are expected to visit Farmington for the 49th annual festival, which begins with a few “pre-glow” activities Thursday, July 18, and continues with a host of main festival features 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, July 19, through Saturday, July 20, on the city’s main thoroughfares — Grand River Avenue and Farmington Road.

DDA Executive Director Annette Knowles said the Founders Festival was originally designed to honor Farmington’s founders and has evolved over the years.

“We continue to try to educate and excite the community about the rich history of Farmington, while also trying to make it relevant and exciting for today’s festival-goers,” she said.

This year’s festival will have many familiar favorites, along with some new activities, Bloom explained.

Mainstays of the festival include the Meijer Go PlayGround, Walker’s Tavern and the parade.

The Meijer Go PlayGround, open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, will be in the Sundquist Pavilion in Riley Park. It’s a children’s area with rides, face painters, balloon animals, crafts, a Meijer Healthy Living Kids exhibit and the Meijer Family Stage.

“It keeps the kids active and parents running from activity to activity,” Bloom said.

Walker’s Tavern, located in the Downtown Farmington center lot, is a favorite festival spot for adults to enjoy entertainment while sipping on beer and wine. It is open 5-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Entertainment starts at 7 p.m. each night, and includes local bands Killer Flamingos and Fifty Amp Fuse.

The parade, which Knowles said is always a weekend highlight, starts at 10 a.m. Saturday and runs along Grand River, from Power Road to Liberty Street. This year’s theme is “Cartoons and Comic Books.” With 70 acts of entertainment, Knowles said, this year’s parade features everything from floats and cars to elected officials, marching bands, and local community and civic organizations.

“We’re really excited with the selection of our grand marshals, who are going to be Batman and Robin, straight from Gotham City,” she said.

New to the event this year is Wags-n-Whiskers Land — which runs 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Memorial Park, behind the Masonic Temple — and the Rock-n-Roll K-9 Performance Team. Wags-n-Whiskers Land is dedicated to all things pet-related, Bloom said, from doggie-related vendors to pet adoption, entertainment and food vendors. The Rock-n-Roll K-9 Performance Team — a group of canine stars doing racing, high jumping, tricks, team relay racing, limbo competitions, choreographed obedience routines, barrel racing and much more, to the beat of some famous rock ‘n’ roll music — will perform at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Historical components of the festival include a guided history tour of Farmington and events at the Gov. Warner Mansion.

There’s also a food court, the Crafters Marketplace, the Farmers & Artisans Market on Saturday, a free Movie Under the Stars at 9:30 p.m. Friday in Shiawassee Park, various performances by Animal Magic — a nonprofit dedicated to exotic wildlife conservation and life science education — Friday and Saturday, and much more.

Parking is available at Sellers Buick Pontiac GMC, on Grand River, west of Halstead; at Farmington High School; and at all downtown municipal lots. Shuttles run every 20 minutes from Sellers Buick Pontiac GMC and Farmington High School from 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

a complete schedule of activities and other information, visit