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Tag Archive | "Red Flannel Festival"

Red Flannel Festival to see change in leadership


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.

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.

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Red Flannel decoration contest


Last year’s Red Flannel Decoration Contest winner was Gary Nead.

Last year’s Red Flannel Decoration Contest winner was Gary Nead.

The Red Flannel Festival is right around the corner, and what better way to show some Red Flannel pride than by decorating your home or business?

“Show your Red Flannel pride in the 2016 Decoration Contest, which is open to homes and now businesses,” said Trey Reed, Chair of the event. “This is the perfect way to welcome in all of the festival guests and participants to Cedar Springs.”

There will be two categories—home and business—and winners will receive cash prizes. Applications and information are available online at redflannelfestival.org. Judging will take place between September 21 and 23.

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All aboard!


 

N-RFF-theme-LogoThe Red Flannel Express Steams into Red Flannel Town for the 2016 Festival 

The all-volunteer Red Flannel Festival Board of Directors has worked hard to provide fresh new events for the 77th “All Aboard the Red Flannel Express” Festival celebration, on Saturday, October 1, 2016. They recently released their new theme’s logo, which was designed by local artist, Lloyd VanDuyn, father of Festival First Vice President Randy VanDuyn. “We’re so grateful to have this beautiful logo,” said Randy.

“This board is extremely dedicated to ensuring the Red Flannel Festival is the biggest and best ever,” said Festival President Michele Tracy. “The comments about the old fashioned steam engine train theme have been very positive.”

In keeping with the theme, the Festival will debut a large model train show in Red Hawk Elementary Gymnasium this year. Also, the Grand Lodge will be hosting live music for two weekends, with Tribute bands the first weekend. The Firefighter Memorial Parade will return this year after a few years hiatus.

Returning this year is the Red Flannel Open Golf Tournament, hosted by Whitefish Lake Golf and Grill. The Red Flannel Art Review, Red Flannel Town House Decorating Contest, Trolley to provide transportation, and the Giant Arts and Craft Fair, Carnival and Marketplace will also return.

“Of course, the traditional events are still in place,” said Tracy. “The Car & Tractor Shows, Museum Open House, Rotary Chicken BBQ, Lion’s Lumberjack Supper, Queen Scholarship Pageant, Bed Races and Grand Parade are wonderful traditions.”

The Festival will partner with 95.7 FM in Grand Rapids, for radio commercials; and an expanded number of television commercials will begin on Charter Cable Channels in September. The 36-page full color “Official Red Flannel Press” will be distributed after Labor Day, thanks to Festival Business Patron Sponsors and “Friends of the Festival,” a donor program designed exclusively for individuals.

For a full schedule of events, or to download all event applications, visit www.redflannelfestival.org, visit the Red Flannel Festival, Inc. Facebook page or email president@redflannelfestival.org

The Festival was granted 501c3 non-profit status and all donations are tax deductible. The Festival is an independent, all volunteer organization with volunteer openings for individuals, families and groups to be involved. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information on how to donate, volunteer or get involved with the Red Flannel Festival, call 616-696-2662 or visit www.redflannelfestival.org.

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Red Flannel Festival earns first place at MFEA convention


Red Flannel board members at MFEA convention. Left to right: Mark Laws, Brynadette Powell, Michele Tracy, Rick Knapp and Steve McBride.

Red Flannel board members at MFEA convention. Left to right: Mark Laws, Brynadette Powell, Michele Tracy, Rick Knapp and Steve McBride.

Michigan Festivals & Events Association (MFEA) announces Red Flannel Festival of Cedar Springs, as the first place winner in the MIFun Awards Promotional Budget $20,000 – $50,000 category. “It’s such an honor to win such a prestigious award at a State level for Red Flannel Town,” said Festival President Michele Tracy. “The Board works very hard to have an outstanding, professional marketing portfolio. We’re proud of our track record of consistent wins!”

The Red Flannel Festival competed against three other entries in their category.

The MFEA MIFun Award winners were recently honored at an awards ceremony and luncheon held November 6 during the 23rd Annual Michigan Festivals and Events Association Convention at the Boyne Mountain Lodge in Boyne Falls, MI. Red Flannel Festival Board members Michele Tracy, Mark Laws, Brynadette Powell, Rick Knapp, Jr. and Steve McBride all attended the conference.

The MFEA MIFun Awards competition draws entries from festivals and events throughout all of Michigan. Entries are divided into three budget levels; Promotional Budget under $20,000, Promotional Budget between $20,000 & $50,000 and Promotional Budget over $50,000. The prestigious “Peoples’ Choice Award” goes to the entry deemed the favorite of all MFEA Convention Attendees.  There were 10 entries representing proud communities that celebrate and promote Michigan’s heritage, agriculture, talents, four seasons, history, products, sports, foods and magnificent waterways.

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Chargers Show School Spirit at Walk and Festival


Students enjoying a snack after the Walk-A-Thon

Students enjoying a snack after the Walk-A-Thon

WOW! What an awesome start to the year for the little Chargers of Creative Technologies Academy! CTA Elementary was busy with lots of fun things: the annual Walk-A-Thon and the Red Flannel Festival!

The Walk-A-Thon included obstacles for the students, including a finish line they got to cross after each lap.

The Walk-A-Thon included obstacles for the students, including a finish line they got to cross after each lap.

The CTA Parent Association decided to have one – and only one – BIG fundraiser this year: A Walk-a-Thon. The students were asked to contact their friends and family to donate to their participation in the Walk-a-Thon at our local Skinner Field. All of the donations are going towards funding for educational class field trips. In fact, every grade in the elementary raised enough to go to Klackle Orchards where they will learn about various apple processes, agricultural practices and of course enjoy samples and experience apple picking – completely paid for by the donors! Nice work, Chargers!

Chargers lining up to walk in the Red Flannel Festival Parade.

Chargers lining up to walk in the Red Flannel Festival Parade.

CTA was ever-present in the Red Flannel festivities this year. We participated in the window decorating competition. Congratulations to third grade for a first place ranking this year. This was also the first year that CTA walked as a school in the Red Flannel parade. And boy, did we pick a good year to start! A little rain and cold won’t hold us Chargers down! NO WAY!

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Crowds turn out for Red Flannel Day


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A steady drizzle during the Red Flannel Day parade didn’t dampen the spirits of this year’s Red Flannel Queen and Court. (L to R): 2015 Red Flannel Queen Bailey Lachniet, and Court members Megan Zinn and Jessica Plowman.

A steady drizzle during the Red Flannel Day parade didn’t dampen the spirits of this year’s Red Flannel Queen and Court. (L to R): 2015 Red Flannel Queen Bailey Lachniet, and Court members Megan Zinn and Jessica Plowman.

By Judy Reed

Thousands of people flooded the streets of Cedar Springs last Saturday, October 3, to enjoy the largest party in town—the 76th annual Red Flannel Festival.

The theme this year was “There’s a new sheriff in town,” and the theme gave some events leading up to the day and the parade more of a country and western theme.

The day started out cool and a little windy, but just before parade time, a steady drizzle began to fall.

“In spite of the weather, we had a great turnout for the 76th Red Flannel Festival,” said President Michele Tracy. “A warm Red Flannel thank you to the Red Flannel Festival Board of Directors and everyone who participates to see this tradition thrive!”

Click here to see photos taken by the Post and some of our readers highlighting the event.

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Red Flannel Festival starts next week


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There’s a new sheriff in town…Red Flannel Country, USA!

The Red Flannel Festival Board’s theme for the 76th annual festival not only recognizes the “wildness” of our town’s beginning, but is also a tip of the hat to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, who has been providing law enforcement for us since November 2014.

The all-volunteer Red Flannel Festival Board of Directors has been working to provide fresh new events for the 76th “Red Flannel Country USA…There’s a New Sheriff in Town!” Festival celebration. “We’re so grateful to have this beautiful logo designed by local artist Doris Vinton again this year,” said Laura Nozal, Festival First Vice President.

“The board has added many events in the last few years and boasts over 5,000 fans on our Facebook page,” said President Michele Tracy. “This board is extremely dedicated to ensuring the Red Flannel Festival is the biggest and best ever! We want to especially thank Cedar Springs resident, Tim VanWagoner, for his suggestion of a country-western theme for this nationally recognized, quality event, as well as the Kent County Sheriff Department for their approval of this creative theme. The comments about the theme have been very positive!”

The Festival will partner with 95.7 FM in Grand Rapids, for radio commercials and an expanded number of television commercials will begin on Charter Cable Channels in September. The 36-page full color “Official Red Flannel Press” has already been distributed, thanks to Festival Business Patron Sponsors and “Friends of the Festival,” a donor program designed exclusively for individuals.

NEW this year is a competitive Red Flannel Open Golf Tournament, hosted by Whitefish Lake Golf and Grill.

Also new this year, the Festival will debut a Mechanical Bull, a Western Obstacle Course and Olde Tyme Photographs to complement the Country/Western theme. The Scottville Clown Band will return in the Grand Parade, with a concert after the Parade in the Grand Lodge. “This is a fantastic, entertaining group to have return again this year,” said Tracy.

A Red Flannel Comedy Revue will also be NEW this year as part of the Grand Lodge entertainment, hosted by Festival Board Trustee Liz Thorington, who has performed several years in Gilda’s Club LaughFest.

Due to last years’ success, The Red Flannel Wine and Microbrew Tasting event will be held this Saturday, September 19 at the American Legion.

The Red Flannel Art Review, Red Flannel Town House Decorating Contest, Trolley to provide transportation, and an AYCE Spaghetti dinner at the Cedar Springs Big Boy Restaurant will also return.

“Of course, the traditional events are still in place,” said Tracy. “The Car & Tractor Shows, Museum Open House, Rotary Chicken BBQ, Lion’s Lumberjack Supper, Queen Scholarship Pageant, Bed Races and Grand Parade are wonderful traditions!” For a full schedule of events, or to download event applications, visit www.redflannelfestival.org.

 

Download our Red Flannel POST pages here!

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Festival donates Red Flannel medallion to city


The Red Flannel Queen and court member presented the Ronny Merlington Memorial Medallion to his wife, Shirley Merlington

The Red Flannel Queen and court member presented the Ronny Merlington Memorial Medallion to his wife, Shirley Merlington

By Judy Reed

The Red Flannel Festival presented the city with a large wooden Red Flannel medallion, called the Ronny Merlington Memorial Medallion, to replace the one originally commissioned by Merlington, a longtime council member and former mayor who has since passed away. They presented the medallion at a special meeting of the City Council last Friday evening.

The original medallion that hung on the city’s wall for many years was destroyed after a cease and desist letter was sent by the Red Flannel Festival to the City.

Resident Kathy Bremmer told the Council that if the threat of a lawsuit still stands, then the council would be in violation of the law if they instruct the City Manager to hang the medallion on the wall.

*N-Red Flannel2Mark Fankhauser, a Keystone Cop and former Mayor of Cedar Springs, commended the Festival for honoring Merlington, and said he was a phenomenal individual.  “But there are concerns that council has to address,” he noted. “Both entities can survive independently. I don’t think we need to blend the logos. Regardless, Cedar Springs will always be known as the Red Flannel Town.”

Councilor Rose Powell said it was not a logo, but a symbol of the community’s culture. “It goes beyond being a sign. Hopefully it will restore our city as the Red Flannel Town,” she said.

Councilor Perry Hopkins said he didn’t know Merlington, but thought it would be honorable to honor him. “If we could have the cease and desist removed, it would be an honorable thing to hang on the wall,” he said.

“I don’t think the division is what Ronny would want for us,” said Councilor Dan Clark. “I hope hanging this would be some type of unification.”

Red Flannel President Michele Tracy and the board was in attendance for the presentation, and so was Shirley Merlington, Ronny’s wife, and this year’s RFF Grand Marshal. Ronny was Grand Marshal in 1994.

The Cedar Springs Red Flannel committee and the Red Flannel Festival will meet Thursday evening, June 4, at 5:30 p.m., at the Creative Technologies lounge to discuss a potential Red Flannel Festival agreement.

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City Council discusses agreement with Red Flannel


 

N-City-logo-webBy Judy Reed

At their regular meeting on Monday, 14, the Cedar Springs City Council discussed their concerns with a potential agreement with the Red Flannel Festival .

Under the two-part agreement, the City would offer in kind services (mainly DPW) to the RFF, and be able to license the various logos owned by the Festival free of charge. No money would change hands.

City Councilor Rose Powell said that she talked to Rockford City Manager Michael Young, and they provide in kind services to 50 festivals held there. She noted that Sparta does the same, with an in-kind cap of $5,000.

City Manager Thad Taylor said that with the way the agreement is written, his concern was that there was no way to determine what the cost would be. “I am also extremely concerned about a unanimous vote to get out of the agreement,” he noted.

Mayor Pro-tem Pam Conley, who is on the committee working on the agreement, said that they didn’t put a number in there (a cap) and that they needed direction from Council.

Councilor Perry Hopkins said that if they do this, they need to be ready to do it for all events, and he felt that they should leave trademarks out of it. “Just use the in kind services. I think it’s taking a step backward (to use the logo),” he said.

Mayor Jerry Hall said he thought they should wait on the trademark and just work on the agreement for services for now.

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City and Red Flannel Festival work on agreement


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N-red-flannel-logoBy Judy Reed

Will Cedar Springs be known once again as the Red Flannel Town? If an agreement between the City and the Red Flannel Festival is approved, the City could once again use that nickname at no charge.

A City committee made up of Mayor Pro Tem Pam Conley, and Councilors Dan Clark and Molly Nixon, met with Red Flannel President Michele Tracy and her committee, to work out an agreement. The RFF lawyer then drew up the agreements that the City Council will discuss Thursday evening, May 14, for the first time.

Under the agreement, the City would trade in-kind services in order to license the various logos owned by the Festival. They would not bill the Festival for any services.

“That type of agreement—the trading of in-kind services—seemed to be the most popular way of handling this, according to the West Michigan Municipal League,” commented Clark.

Tracy is pleased with the progress they are making. “The Red Flannel Board is thrilled to have open, honest, sincere dialogue with the City Ad Hoc Committee,” she said. “Our first meeting went smoothly.”

Since the City no longer has their own police department, the Festival would need to contract for their own security, and, according to Michele Andres, they have met with Sgt. Jason Kelley, of the Kent County Sheriff Department’s Cedar Springs unit, and are waiting for an estimate.

The City will discuss the agreement tonight, Thursday, May 14.

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