By BOB OLIVER
HEIGHTS — The final numbers aren’t in, but Parks and Recreation Director Ken Grybel said all factors are pointing toward a record year for the Spirit Fest.
The 28th annual festival was held June 4 to 8 outside the Canfield Center, 1801 N. Beech Daly, and featured amusement rides, concerts and other events, including a vintage car show.
“Wednesday was a downer because of the rain, but we had the most people we’ve ever had for a Thursday on Thursday and the same on Friday,” Grybel said. “On Saturday, we had the most people attend on a single day that we’ve ever had in the history of the festival.”
Grybel spoke to the City Council about the festival June 10 and said it is difficult to get the exact number of attendees because there aren’t turnstiles that keep count, but based on amusement ride wristband sales and crowd size for entertainment shows the numbers are up.
“Last year we were up 40 percent over our previous record, but it was also the 50th anniversary of the city,” Grybel said. “It looks like we are going to finish 10 percent over were we ended up last year, so we really had great growth.”
Grybel said he felt the main driving force for bigger crowds at the festival was the variety of musical entertainment provided.
“We always plan to offer a variety of entertainment because we don’t want to be one-dimensional and this year we had a different genre each night,” Grybel said.
Friday night the main act was the Arizona Son Country Band featuring Devin Scillian from WDIV Channel 4 in Detroit, Saturday night featured music from the ’60s and ’70s with Steve King and the Dittilies, and the festival was closed by Katmandu, a Bob Seger tribute band.
“Having a celebrity like Scillian made a big difference,” Grybel said. “We had a lot of people calling our offices asking about him and then asking for directions to the center, so we know that a lot of people from the surrounding communities came in to watch his performance.”
Grybel said the reason for the festival is to offer a wide variety of entertainment and a positive experience for all in attendance, and by that criteria they were very successful.
“We had a great weekend with no major problems and we’ve gotten nothing but compliments from those who attended,” Grybel said. “We also had great support from our police and fire departments who ensured the safety of the guests. It was a great festival.”
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected].)