Posted on 16 September 2016.
Michele Tracy, President Emeritus of the Red Flannel Festival (front right), with the 2015 Red Flannel Festival Queen Bailey Lachniet (front left), and her court (back row left to right) Jessica Plowman and Megan Zinn. Courtesy photo.
By Judy Reed
Michele Tracy has been the guiding hand and president of the Red Flannel Festival since she joined the organization 15 years ago. But she is now easing out of that role after a recent move to Hershey, Pennsylvania to work for Penn State University, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
She is still active on the RFF board, however. “I’ve been voted in the position of President Emeritus (Past President), a non-voting member of the Board,” Tracy explained. “I am extremely active this year, ‘virtually’ helping new President Randy VanDuyn transition, and am honored to stay in that position as long as the Board decides they benefit from this advisory position,” she said.
The Red Flannel Festival has blossomed under Tracy’s leadership, adding many new events and drawing 40,000-plus annually to the unique celebration. The RFF also broke away from the prior Cedar Springs Chamber of Commerce and became a non-profit organization in its own right, and purchased its own building on Maple Street, and another on Main Street a few years later.
Her tenure, however, has not been without controversy. Most notably was when the RFF board threatened to sue the city over its use of the logo, and the city voted to no longer be called The Red Flannel Town. With new leadership in place at City Hall, the two entities have since come to an agreement over that issue.
So how does Tracy feel about her time on the Festival board?
“The Red Flannel Festival truly has been a labor of love for me,” she remarked. “Quite simply, I love the Red Flannel Festival! It’s been such an honor and privilege to be a part of the 77-year tradition of all of the volunteers that have made this Festival great. It truly is the heart and soul of Cedar Springs and the pinnacle of our community pride. I’m hoping Grace and Nina would be proud of my service, as I always tried to have them in mind. I am confident the current Board of Directors, Matt Andres, Laura Nozal, Lea Drake, Rick Knapp Jr., Liz Thorington, Mark Laws, and Andrew Bartoszek, with the outstanding leadership of new President Randy VanDuyn, will continue the legacy in all of the great traditions! Of course, I’ll ALWAYS be home for Red Flannel Day!”
For some of the Red Flannel events coming up next week, turn to pages 8-9.