Published at PO Box 96 124 W. St. Clair Romeo, MI 48065. Phone: (586)752-3524 Fax: (586)752-0548
Updated Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 3 PM EST
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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 09/05/12
Above, VFW Post 2052 was one of many groups representing the military at the Floral Parade. Below from top photo: Aislin and Aine Wiegers, ages 4 and 2, of Shelby Township watch Disney characters march by at the Floral Parade. Taylor Ranich, 7, and Benjamin Niedzwiecki, 3, of Sterling Heights scramble to grab candy tossed from a parade entry. Above, the Romeo High School cheerleaders receive applause as they perform a routine at the Floral Parade. Above, the Tea Party encourages voters to go to the polls with its float.
(Observer photos by Chris Gray)
Increase in crowd sizes
at 81st MI Peach Festival
by CHRIS GRAYAlthough hot at times, the perfect weather over Labor Day weekend brought one of the most successful Peach Festivals yet.
Observer Staff Writer
The 81st Michigan Peach Festival saw thousands of people pour into the hamlet known as Romeo from Aug. 30 through Sept. 3 for the area's biggest and longest-running festival.
The Peach Festival began in 1931 with former Village President Edward Jacobs, who believed a festival celebrating local crops would unite people from rural and urban towns.
Today, the festival has grown to not only be a family-friendly weekend full of attractions, but a valuable fundraising event for non-profits and other organizations. The Romeo Lions Club, which coordinates a majority of the events, gains 75 percent of its revenue from the festival.
Gary Schocke, Lions Club member and Peach Festival Committee president, said the numbers in nearly every aspect of the festival have increased.
"We have had a banner year in all areas," Schocke said. "It just goes to show you that all you need is good weather."
He said the fly-in breakfast at Romeo State Airport had a record-breaking 1,700 breakfasts, the car show had over 200 cars and the craft shows brought in more than 10,000 customers.
Businesses saw their fair share of customers as well. Dave and Beth Benac, co-owners of the Antique Bank Cafe were experiencing their first-ever Peach Festival as business owners.
"We had a blow-out<I bought enough supplies to last a week and ran out the first day," Dave said. "It's three times what we expected, we never expected this."
Whether it was from the cafe or elsewhere, people cooled off with bottles of water, lemonade and slush drinks during the warm weekend, which saw temperatures reaching the high 80s.
Kate Rojeski of Macomb and her daughter, Alyssa, 8, were enjoying some ice cream on Labor Day. Kate said they've been to the festival for three years.
"We like the peach pie and the rides, and the parade," she said.
Aside from pies, the taste of Romeo could be found in all types of goods including flips, cobbler, jam, drinks and salsa.
Dave Billock Jr. of Bruce Township was selling peach products for Miller's Big Red Apple Orchard, saying about 100 people a day would pick something from the stand.
"It's been awesome," he said.
He said overall he believed there was a difference in attendance throughout the festival weekend.
"It's not like it used to be," he said. "People are just being frugal, but it is the weather, it's been hot."
Even so, the crowds were still out in full force, hitting traditional spots like the Mid America Shows carnival, the beer tent, Kidsfest, and crafts shows.
The main event of the festival was the Floral Parade, which had about 120 entries marching down Main Street for nearly two hours. People braved the heat by seeking shade and fanning themselves.
Other parades and events were going strong throughout the weekend as well, such as the bed races on Sept. 2. Brett Jedrusiejko of Rochester Hills was out with Lisa Pruccoli, Rosalie Pruccoli and Leah Tuck enjoying the races and night parade.
"(I like) the hometown feel," Jedrusiejko said. "A lot of that is missing in the world today."
Eric and Norma Smith of Grandville were back for their second year at the Peach Festival. Aside from cheering on their granddaughter, 2012 Peach Queen Lisa Polley, they said they have liked the festival.
"We were here last year so we came back this year, and if we're still alive we'll come back next year," Eric said with a laugh.