Pick blueberries in paradise at an annual festival

PARADISE – Paradise in the Township of Whitefish is hosting its 37th annual Wild Blueberry Festival August 19-21.

Beginning in the 1880s, the forest area around Paradise was logged, leaving large tracts of land that provided a naturally healthy environment for wild blueberries. Since then, wild blueberry plants have become much more common in the sandy, acidic soil made available by logging.

Over the years, the wild blueberry population has only grown and supported the local food industry. Paradise’s population grew in the 1920s when workers moved into the area to pick blueberries.

The region’s blueberry industry grew so large that it shipped berries by boat to many places across the country, including Detroit, Chicago and Buffalo.

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The festival is a celebration of the large local blueberry population and also a way for visitors to learn about the area and its history.

“There are a lot of different things to do at the festival,” said festival organizer Katelin Corcoran. “The festival draws people here, so people come and they can get to know the area better.”

The festival kicks off Friday with an arts and crafts fair showcasing hundreds of products, many of which are blueberry foods. There will also be live entertainment all weekend with jugglers, clowns, live music and magicians.

The main event of the festival includes a huge bake sale with over 300 individually baked blueberry pies. The bake sale also includes blueberry coffee cakes, muffins, syrup and more.

The festival also has a jamboree and features lots of blueberry food.

The celebration features music, nature and commemorates local traditions throughout the weekend. Attendees can learn about the local history of the area and why it is called the blueberry capital of Michigan.

Attendees will have the chance to pick wild blueberries themselves in the area, as the festival takes place near a wooded area where wild blueberry plants are prominent.

“For people who grew up here and have been a part of it for so long, the festival becomes a big part of their life and their traditions,” Corcoran said.

More information about the festival is available on the festival website.

Contact Brendan Wiesner: [email protected]

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