Archived Story

‘Summer in the City’ and Fun Fest 25

Published 6:24pm Sunday, July 11, 2010

As the forerunner of Dowagiac’s “Summer in the City” Festival marks a quarter-of-a-century this July, its present-day bright and colorful celestial image will be shining bright as the Taste of Dowagiac welcomes the return of visiting food vendors and the highly-sought-after elephant ears.

First known as Ridiculous Days, then Fun Fest, in 2009 the three-day festival sported for the first time its new name with celestial logo it debuted the year before.

The cheerful and mystical face, inflamed in brilliant color, was perhaps also intended to depict the hot, muggy temperatures that generally fall upon this mid-summer celebration.
Hosted by Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce, the festival that opens in the downtown on Thursday, July 29, offers nearly $14,500 of entertainment and activities for the family, along with Steve’s 5K and 10K Run, The Taste of Dowagiac and this community’s Sizzlin’ Hot Sidewalk Days, said Vickie Phillipson, program director for the Chamber of Commerce and the Dowagiac Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

“Through the years, while its name has changed, the festival’s major underwriter, St. Denys Foundation, has remained a constant and a steadfast supporter, and continues to be an essential aspect to the continuation of Dowagiac’s longest-running summertime event.”

“St. Denys Foundation has awarded to the DDA a $10,000 fine arts grant to help fund entertainment and related costs of this year’s celebration,” Phillipson announced Wednesday.

As the DDA and Chamber of Commerce program director, Phillipson handles grant writing and raises the monies needed to fund the presentation of vocal, instrumental and specialty entertainment, and the interactive children’s workshops.

She also oversees event scheduling for the summertime celebration, as well as its advertising and advance publicity.

“Our sincere gratitude is extended to St. Denys Foundation of Dowagiac and to our six corporate sponsors, which have partnered with us to bring this celebration to our central business district,” Phillipson said.  “This is the ninth consecutive year for the July festival to have received the essential funding boost from St. Denys Foundation.

Previously, St. Denys also funded the DDA’s 12-week Beckwith Park Summer Concert Series, which Phillipson also oversees, that is today underwritten by Huntington Bank.
St. Denys Foundation supports four charitable areas of interest.

In addition to the arts and art educational programs, the foundation funds environmental programs, particularly the preservation of natural areas, open space and areas having special natural beauty or significance.

The foundation supports educational programs, including capital contributions and scholarships, as well as supporting libraries and supplemental learning programs.

Phillipson said the foundation is also interested in health programs, including hospice and other care programs, and scholarships and training in preventive medicine.

New this year, the 2010 celebration welcomes aboard the Army National Guard as a corporate sponsor of the event, along with five returning business sponsors, as Leader Publications and the City of Dowagiac provide in-kind support.

She said the National Guard will also have a larger presence at the festival, as recruiting personnel add to the number of children’s inflatables that will be situated along Depot Drive, adding to the fun Judd Lumber’s party castle and obstacle courses have provided in recent years.

Returning corporate sponsors include Creative Vinyl Signs, Lyons Industries, Southwestern Michigan College, Dr. Alan Montgomery and Dr. Charles Burling and Dr. Jon Gillesby.
Truly a family-friendly event, Dowagiac’s “Summer in the City” features three full days of vocal, instrumental and dance performances, horse-drawn carriage rides, The Taste of Dowagiac’s eclectic mix of summer foods, served outside by restaurateurs for the enjoyment of festival goers, plus the festive fare of returning food vendors.

Parents appreciate the many interactive children’s workshops and games, as families delight at browsing summer sidewalk sales of specialty shops that feature booths of craftsmen, artisans and community organizations.

To receive a festival schedule of events or to register for sidewalk booth space, call the Chamber of Commerce at (269) 782-8212.

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