By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE – It’s been a patient, gradual rebirth, but traditions take time to develop. Having weathered a slow period and change of name, the city’s Heritage Days four-day festival kicks off Thursday for the 41st year.
Everything that had been enjoyed – and more – will fill the municipal grounds. Mayor Joseph Kuspa said the response to more activities and the return of carnival rides have been both positive and profitable.
“Two years ago we opened it back up to having a festival on the grounds and people responded,” Kuspa said. “The carnival was out of if for a few years, and it’s been a really positive thing.”
Kuspa said the event does not rely on general fund dollars, but that local business partners and the Downtown Development Authority filled the void and have, for three of the last four years, generated a small profit that allowed further investment.
The results can be seen in a lineup that includes three nights of live music beginning with a 7 p.m. June 19 performance by The Killer Flamingos. Also scheduled are Saturday performances by Mega 80s, Boogie Dynomite and Little Davy and the Diplomats.
“A lot of the old favorites will be returning,” Kuspa said. Heritage Days opens June 18 with the first of a four-day carnival at the municipal complex, 14400 Dix-Toledo. Bringing back the carnival, Kuspa said, helped restore the event as a true community celebration.
“It’s a great way for everyone to get together, invite their families and have something for the younger ones,” Kuspa said.
In addition to the annual four-mile run and parade on June 20 – a day which will end with a fireworks display – Heritage Days will again include Taste of the Town samplings from local restaurants and a new addition from the Detroit Institute of Arts: A mobile art exhibit and demonstration will be on hand both June 20 and 21.
“Being outside lends itself to a lot of things happening,” Kuspa said.
A crowded schedule includes the annual Kid-Olympics games, inflatable playscapes, a June 20 car show and vendors and crafters for all tastes.
“That’s why its been able to grow,” Kuspa said. “It’s our biggest family friendly event and worthwhile to support.”
For a complete schedule of Heritage Days go to www.southgatemi.org.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)