2007-06-09 / Top News

58th Annual Lilac Festival Celebrates Island's Victorian Era

By Eric Fish

Eighteen-month-old Cole Freiss touched Mackinac Island lilacs for the first time Wednesday, June 6. "Nice," he told his mother, Cindy. From Elgin, Illinois, the pair vacationed on the Island for two days with Cole's grandmother, aunts, and cousins. Eighteen-month-old Cole Freiss touched Mackinac Island lilacs for the first time Wednesday, June 6. "Nice," he told his mother, Cindy. From Elgin, Illinois, the pair vacationed on the Island for two days with Cole's grandmother, aunts, and cousins. The 58th annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival features 10 days of activities from June 8 to 17. What originally began as a single day of celebration in 1949 has grown into a weekand a-half event that welcomes an estimated 15,000 participants each year.

From beer and wine tasting, entertainers in the streets and downtown venues, and numerous boat cruises, Island tours, and fundraisers, the Lilac Festival offers activities to keep visitors occupied and amused.

The theme for this year's festival is Victorian-era literature, ranging from fairy tales like The Wizard of Oz to Cinderella and Peter Pan.

A complete schedule of events is available at the Tourism Bureau on Main Street or online at mackinac island.org. Some highlights follow:

Coronation of Lilac Festival Queen: June 8

With the Grand Hotel Orchestra playing in Marquette Park, Mackinac Island Mayor Margaret Doud and Miss Teen of Michigan Nicole Hinchman will kick off the 58th annual Lilac Festival by crowning the festival queen at 5:30 p.m.

The queen is selected from the student body at the Mackinac Island Public School. Last year's queen was Melissa Bunker. Queen duties include participating in the Taste of Mackinac and opening Fort Mackinac each season in addition to off-Island representation.

Following the crowning of the queen, a special reception will be held at Patrick Sinclair's Irish Pub.

Lilac Festival 10K, Lil Lilac Run/Walk: June 9

The annual Lilac Festival 10K will begin at Windermere Point, extend through downtown into the center of the Island and end at the Mackinac Island Public School. The event will begin at 9:30 a.m.

A children's event beginning at 11 a.m. will also take place the same day and will cover 1/4 of a mile. Registration is available by going to www.runmackinac. com (http://www. runmackinac.com).

The running events will be followed by a book sale at the Mackinac Island Public Library from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hiking/Bike Tours with Randall "Doc" Crain: Periodically throughout the festival

Doc Crain takes tourists on hiking trails from Marquette Park to Island sights like Arch Rock, while stopping along the way for questions, stories, and observation. The bike tour takes visitors around the island and is meant only for multigear bicycles. All tours are free.

Walk and Talk with Lilacs: Periodically throughout the festival

At various locations throughout the 10-day festival, walk and talk with lilac tours are offered to visitors. Tours will include the settings of Ste. Anne's Churchyard, Harbour View Inn, Windermere Hotel, Bay View at Mackinac, Small Point B&B, and Tourism Bureau.

Lilac Festival Golf Tournament: June 11

The annual golf tournament will be held at the Grand Hotel "Jewel Nine" beginning at 5:30 p.m. To register, call the hotel at 847-3331.

Black Ash Basketry: June 13

Kelly Church will be demonstrating the black ash basketry techniques starting at 3 p.m. at the Mackinac Island Public Library. Ms. Church will also have items available for purchase.

Feast of Epona: June 15

Hosted by the Mackinac Island Community Foundation, the Feast of Epona Blessing of the Animals will take place at the Mission Hill Stables when the Mackinac Island Dog and Pony Club come together with Trinity and Ste. Anne's Church. Epona, the Roman and Celtic goddess of horses and protector of animals is a Lilac Festival celebrated theme.

A Feast of Epona fundraiser will be held prior to the blessing Tuesday, June 1 at the Seabiscuit Cafe. The fundraiser will begin at 2 p.m. and feature a silent auction and wine tasting.

Epona and Barkus Parade/ Dog and Pony Show: June 16

The Epona and Barkus Parade will take place at 1 p.m. at Boardwalk in conjunction with the third annual Dog and Pony Show at Windermere Point. The Dog and Pony Show will feature Dan Wallen's trick horses, Brendon the agility dog, and several humanitarian animal rescue groups.

Grand Parade: June 17

Following a lybster brunch at Patrick Sinclair's Irish Pub, the Lilac Festival will come to a traditional end on Father's Day with the Grand Parade at 4 p.m. The parade will be led once again by Don and Carl Andress, who are direct descendants of Chief Mackinac. The parade is also one of the only horse hitch parades in Michigan.

According to the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau, there are about 80 parade entries this year and the number of horse hitches have increased from last year.

Dynamite the Clown will act as the parade's Grand Marshal and will celebrate his 25th festival parade.

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