91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Hot weekend ahead for Michigan festivals and fairs without COVID restrictions

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

This weekend marks the beginning of Michigan’s summer festival and fair season, without COVID-19 restrictions on outdoor events.

Last year was a tough year for many of the businesses that depend on Michigan’s summer festivals and fair.  The coronavirus pandemic forced most to cancel.

But June 1, the state of Michiganliftedrestrictions on outdoor events.

At theCurwood festival in Owosso Friday, the rides were rolling and the carnival games were buzzing.

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio

The Shiawassee County festival has been a summer staple for more than four decades.  

But the festival was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brian Reed is the Curwood festival’s president.  He’s expecting a larger than normal turnout this year.

“People want to get back out,” says Reed, “And they want to get back to the activities that they know.”

Vendors at the festival say they’re glad to be back as well.  Many of the vendors say it will take more than one good summer to recover from their pandemic losses.

The Skerbeck Family Carnivalhas been in operation since 1857. Its rides, food trucks and games have been a staple of many Michigan festivals and fairs.  But COVID cost Skerbeck its entire 2020 season get canceled.

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio

This year, Skerbeck’s summer schedule is full, but like other businesses it’s struggling to hire enough people.

Carly Vertz is the sixth generation of her family in the carnival business.  She says they’re “thankful” for being back in business this summer.

“Not every carnival, not every small business, not every restaurant did survive 2020 and the pandemic,” says Vertz. “I’m glad to be one of the companies...able to do that.”

Vertz and many of the vendors at the Curwood festival say it will take more than one good summer to recover from their pandemic losses.

Cheryl Lyde bought her food truck from her aunt a decade ago. She says she usually does a couple of local festivals and a half dozen county fairs every summer. Last year, without those events, Lyde says she set up in her hometown and did a little businesses, but not enough.

With state COVID restrictions lifted and a hot weekend ahead, Lyde feels “wonderful.”

“This is my summer business. This is my income for the year,” says Lyde. 

Lyde is hoping 2021 will be “a great year.”     

With temperatures expected to soar into the 90's this weekend, the longest lines at the Curwood festival will likely be for ice cream and cold drinks.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
Related Content