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Berrien Springs’ Shady Grove Celebration merges local music, food

Published 7:41pm Friday, July 23, 2010

By JESSICA SIEFF

Niles Daily Star

When it comes to food, the buzz word in the kitchen is fusion — bringing together different flavors with mouth-watering results.

In Berrien Springs, there is a similar fusion for the senses going on at the Shady Grove Celebration to be held Sunday.

“It actually got started when a lot of local musicians wanted to have some kind of event that they could be involved with,” said Jan Burda, the festival’s director.

Started 12 years ago by a group of area like-minds who would become the non-profit Shady Grove Fiddle Festival Inc., the annual event was originally a fiddle festival.

The idea was “to promote local music,” Burda said, and the organization worked to find “nationally prominent people to come here on the cheap.”

“It was very successful,” he said.

In its first year, the highlight of the music-filled festival was a fiddle contest, Burda said, which has led to additional contests held each year for guitar, banjo and mandolin.

“Then we started showcasing local people,” Burda said, drawing in local and regional musical artists. “That has been evolving slowly.”

As has the festival itself.

Those behind brining local music to the masses found they also shared “a keen interest in the promotion of local agriculture and local food,” Burda said.

The fusion of local food and local sound changed the name of the festival from the Fiddle Festival to the Shady Grove Celebration.

“We started making and selling local food dishes at the festival site,” Burda said.

Along with organic hamburgers the Shady Grove Celebration offers up area produce.

“All of the fruit and vegetables will be coming from within a 20-mile radius of Berrien Springs,” Burda said. “We sell sweet corn that’s picked that morning and we’ll be cooking and selling it by noon.”

Fresh food, he said, “is a very big part of our festival.”

Close to 800 people made their way to the Shady Grove Celebration last year to take part in the music, the food and the workshops centered around the food, “where it’s grown, where it comes from and how good it is for you,” Burda said.

Expected to return for musical competition is Niles’ own Ethan Shelton.

The celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Grove Park in Berrien Springs, overlooking Lake Chapin, above the dam on the St. Joseph River.

For more information visit www.shadygrovefiddlefest.org.

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