Second annual Trail Tunes doubles attendance

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published August 25, 2021

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MADISON HEIGHTS — When Trail Tunes made its debut in Madison Heights last fall, it was deemed a resounding success. The music festival was a safe way to have fun amid the pandemic, inviting people to stroll around Civic Center Park while listening to different bands.

More recently, on Aug. 7, Trail Tunes had its second event, once again at Civic Center Park. Attendance was double that of last year, with more than 1,000 people touring 16 musical acts and circus-style performers along the trail loop, and vendors serving food and drink.  

There were free activities for kids, including balloon animals and face painting by Red Oaks Church and The Joyful Jungle Christian Learning Center, respectively. There were also opportunities to give back, with the Madison Heights Food Pantry collecting donations, just like last year.

The event is organized by the Madison Heights Arts Board. Amber Platzke is the chairwoman of the board, while Vita Palazzolo and Madison Heights City Councilmember Mark Bliss are co-chairs for the event, which is paid for entirely with donations.

“The atmosphere for Trail Tunes was electric,” Bliss said in an email. “Vita and the entire planning committee were thrilled at the turnout, but mostly we were excited to see so many people come together in such a fun and safe way. Live music is such an important part of our lives, and it’s absolutely incredible that we were able to bring that to our city through the kindness of our donors and the passion of our incredible volunteers.”

Madison Heights Mayor Roslyn Grafstein congratulated Bliss and the others on the event.

“Funded solely by donations, residents and community members were able to stroll around the park enjoying five hours of music interspersed with a fire show, food trucks and vendor tables,” Grafstein said in an email. “It was also nice to see other city groups like the Friends of the Library, the Food Pantry and the newly revitalized Crime Commission hosting tables and engaging residents. Spanning the entire park, people I saw at the beginning spread out and seemed to disappear until we found each other a few hours later, each of us having enjoyed a different part of the festival.”

Bliss said part of the fun was seeing the bands perform in unique places, like in front of the police station, at the gazebo in front of City Hall, or on the baseball diamond.

“But one thing we’ve heard loud and clear is the need for a few main stages in the park,” Bliss said. “If we get the chance, our planning committee would love to add headliner stages for acoustic, Top 40, and rock bands at next year’s festival, with musicians still located in some of our favorite locations in the park. We would also like to provide transportation around the park if we can get enough donations to make that a viable option.”

Grafstein said her favorite part of Trail Tunes is the human element that comes with bringing the community together.

“While I enjoyed the different genres of music, my favorite part of our events are always the moments of camaraderie. From the second I biked into the festival before it started, until the end when it was getting dark and I had to turn on my lights to head home, I was continually greeted by smiling members of the community out enjoying themselves with friends and family,” Grafstein said.

“If I had to pick my favorite moment, it wasn’t musical — it was when I sat down for a few minutes at the Crime Commission table, and a young girl who had been visiting our K9 came over and spontaneously hugged me,” the mayor said. “It caught me off guard, but she captured my feelings of the day.”

Bliss said the new Family Fun Zone was a big priority for him after growing up going to summer festivals in the city with his own parents.

“I was thrilled to see all of the kids there enjoying the event. Honestly, I think my kids loved their balloon animals more than anything else at the event, and it was so nice to watch all of the children making memories there as they watched the fire performers, stilt walkers and circus performers in between music acts. In a year where we unfortunately didn’t have a fireworks festival, bringing live music and some unique experiences to the families in our community is probably the thing I’m most proud of.”

Bliss said that the Arts Board is already thinking ahead to the third annual Trail Tunes, in 2022.

“Co-chairing this event with Vita Palazzolo and the Arts Board has been one of the best and definitely the most fun thing that I’ve gotten to work on in my eight years on council,” Bliss said. “Bringing the community together like this has been amazing, and it’s brought back so many great childhood memories of the festivals I attended growing up. I hope I have the opportunity to work with this amazing team to make Year 3 our biggest festival yet!”