Celebrating Those Summertime Blues


| 8/20/2008 12:41:18 PM


Tags: blueberry, blueberry festival, South Haven,

I live in the area known as Michigan’s Fruit Belt. Orchards and vineyards make up a large part of the countryside, and the small towns throughout celebrate the bounty these crops bring by honoring the various fruits with a myriad of festivals – any reason to throw a party for family, friends, and neighbors is a good one when you live in a small town.

The fruit festival season kicks off early with the Blossomtime Festival in spring; festivals heralding specific fruits follow when the blossoms fall, the fruit forms, and ripens throughout summer. The opening of strawberry season is commemorated with its traditional auction of the first crate of ripe strawberries. It's for bragging rights mostly – for both the grower, and the winner. This year's first case sold for a record $15,200.00. Yep, that many zeros for a crate of strawberries! All the money goes to a charity of the highest bidder's choosing. After strawberry season concludes, comes the International Cherry Pit and Spit Competition, and then the Peach Festival; the ‘Red Haven’ peach was developed right here in South Haven. The Apple Festival, the Wine and Harvest Festival, and the many all-encompassing, whatever-is-left harvest fests, round out the fruit festival season.

Here, in South Haven, blueberry is king, and our contribution to the fruit festival line-up is the National Blueberry Festival – or just “Blueberry Fest,” if you’re a local. South Haven is the Blueberry Capitol of the World, and though the title is a self-proclamation, it might not be too far off the mark. Michigan leads the nation in blueberry production, with much of the fruit coming from this immediate area.

If you happen to miss the blueberry fields on the outskirts of town, our reverence for this fruit is apparent throughout the year once you hit downtown proper. The first thing you’ll see are these tiny, but plump, sweet little morsels of healthful goodness represented in basketball-sized form, nestled amongst other fruit and vegetables on a mural celebrating our agricultural heritage.

South Haven Mural

Directly across the street is The Blueberry Store, where you can get anything blueberry that you can imagine: blueberry scented soaps and candles, recipe books, pottery, clothing, chocolate covered blueberries ... mmmm, blueberry pancake and bread mixes, jams, jellies, syrups, honey, and my favorite – blueberry salsa. And they ship anywhere – the perfect “Taste of South Haven” Christmas gift for out-of-town friends and family.

Cindy Murphy
8/25/2008 6:44:53 PM

Fred! Your idea of a Valentine's Day Chocolate Festival sounds delicious! But don't forget about cups free hot chocolate after skating under the twinkling lights at the pavillion ice-rink; what could be more romantic? Sounds like a date for you and Susan. (And while you two are sipping hot chocolate, I'll be sneaking your shares of those chocolate covered strawberries.) Thanks for stopping by. Cindy


Cindy Murphy
8/25/2008 6:38:41 PM

Lacy, one of the things I remember most about camping trips up north during my kidhood, was finding wild blueberry patches - they were lowbush blueberries, and the berries are much smaller than the highbush berries, but oh-so-sweet!!! We always take the girls to the U-Pick Blueberry Farms, but this year we had a bumper mosquito crop - it was probably larger than the blueberry crop, and we ended up not going. My youngest was disappointed; she's a eat-more-than-she-puts-in-the-pail picker. It's a shame, but the apples are coming up soon, and that's always another fun family outing. I'm sure you and your adopted siblings will have a grand time. I'll have to check out your blueberry blog on your site. Lori, I just re-watched the video my daughter took, (laughing the entire time), and I made it fifteen seconds on the bull! It was not a pretty sight, I can tell you. Coincidentally, the first and only other time I rode a mechanical bull was at another small town festival we went to while visting friends in North Carolina. Another unpretty sight that time too, but my Fifteen Minutes of Fame lasted however long it took to be thrown; a photographer caught a shot of me, and it's used on the festival brochere. (at least I was not in my caterpillar hunting outfit!)


Lori
8/25/2008 11:02:54 AM

Cindy, your blueberry fest sounds like a wonderful time! We love blueberries, (is there anyone that doesn't?), but my hubby is especially fond of them. We have a couple blueberry bushes of our own and I usually make blueberry jam with them. Yummy on homemade bread! How many seconds did you make it on the bull?





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