Heritage Days Festival to celebrate the good ol’ days

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published May 24, 2016

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ROCHESTER — Families can travel back in time Memorial Day weekend during the Greater Rochester Heritage Days Festival.

The festival, according to event steering committee member Liz Golding, is designed to provide entertainment for the community and educate people on the heritage of the area, and it also serves as a fundraiser for many local nonprofits, which benefit from various sponsored food and vendor sales.

“There are really so many events that are going on. It’s a really family-friendly festival,” Golding said.

The event, now in its 39th year, has become a tradition for many families in the area.

“I have taken my children and my grandchildren to Heritage Days ever since it started, and my oldest is 58, so it has been a long time that I have been going,” event steering committee member June Hopaluk said. “I just think it’s the best event in the area for people with children and grandchildren because admission is free.”

This year’s festival will be held 11 a.m.-6 p.m. May 28 and noon-5 p.m. May 29 in Rochester Municipal Park. The event — held rain or shine — is free and is not limited to Rochester residents.

The event kicks off with a pancake breakfast at The Community House 7:30-11:30 a.m. both days. After bellies are full, families can head out to the park for the 10th annual Heritage Rod and Custom Car Show on Saturday and the 37th annual Festival of Cars presented by the Lions Club on Sunday.

From there, Golding said, event-goers can follow the paths all around the park into Rochester’s “history.”

Many of the classic, favorite festival features will be back again this year, Golding said, including the Great Lakes Timber Show. Part education and history, part humor and entertainment, the Timber Show features chainsaw carving and throwing, wood chopping, log rolling and more.

The 10th Michigan Infantry will perform battle re-enactments and living history demonstrations, Grant Lindeman will share his experiences from the Vietnam War, and War of 1812 and Civil War activities will be on tap.

Children can enjoy the ever-popular and free pioneer playground, where they can play old-fashioned games and participate in activities such as stilt walking, rutabaga bowling, a beanbag toss, pony and camel rides, and a petting zoo on both days of the festival. On Sunday, close to the playground, staff from Home Depot will provide kits and tools to assist children in building small wooden craft projects.

The festival’s Heritage Area will include numerous exhibits from the Rochester-Avon Historical Society, the Rochester Historical Commission and the Oakland Township Historical Society, including historical displays and old photos of early Rochester and the Oakland County region. The Oakland Township Historical Society will have plants for sale, and there will be demonstrations of weaving, spinning, chair caning, quilting and antique tools, and a display of antique tractors.

“Rochester prides itself on our history, and the Heritage Area will bring that (to the forefront),” Hopaluk said.

Dinosaur Hill benefits from the festival’s Crafts Along the Creek sale, which features handmade crafts.

The local vintage baseball team, the Grangers, is scheduled to play 1-3 p.m. Saturday in Halbach Field.

Strolling musicians — from Tommy Spaghetti and Marshall Stevens to barbershop quartets and other local talent — will be heard throughout the park during the event.

For more information about the event, visit www.dinosaurhill.org/HeritageDays2016.

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