Archived Story

Village marks 100 years since incorporation

Published 10:36am Thursday, August 30, 2012


Organizers of Edwardsburg’s 1912 incorporation centennial celebration Saturday didn’t foresee contending with “the Isaac thing,” a hurricane lashing Louisiana Wednesday.

“Right now, we’re praying it doesn’t rain,” Village Councilwoman Nancy Stoner said, though weekend forecasts suggest otherwise.

A community-wide birthday bash is set for Sept. 1 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Gunn Park on Lake Street at Pleasant Lake.

As a back-up, the potluck can move indoors to the Presbyterian Church social hall, which holds about 100 people.

“It’s taken a lot of people to get the plan done,” Stoner said. “We’ve put in absolutely hours and hours of work,” arranging for free hot dogs, water, popcorn, snow cones, birthday cake, live music, a face painter, a firetruck for children to climb and games such as volleyball and corn hole to bring together the community.

“If the weather holds, we’re ready,” Stoner said.

The ’burg’s bash will likely be a more intimate affair than the August 1915 Homecoming or the three-day July 1938 Homecoming.

An estimated 3,000 people poured into the grove near Dr. May’s Pleasant Lake property in 1915 to hear Michigan’s 28th governor, Woodbridge Nathan Ferris, who in 1884 established what became Ferris State University.

July 13-15, 1938, may have been an even bigger shebang, featuring “daylight fireworks” and Marie Bealls’ Marvel Dogs and Animal Circus.

“It was housed here in town about 1935 where Fireside Grill is,” according to JoAnn Boepple of Edwardsburg Area Historical Museum. “They had a bear. She evidently traveled all over the country because there are testimony letters from fairs in North and South Dakota and Tennessee. There are stories about her having an alligator she kept in a pit, and it got out once and wandered around.”

Posters promoted goats, monkeys, clowns and jugglers Swiggle and Swiggle.

“There was a balloon ascension with a double parachute drop,” Boepple said. “It was just at the end of the Depression. There was a cigar-smoking contest, a (ladies) nail-driving contest, swimming races and turtle races. We thought it was interesting that they were giving $100 in prizes. That was a lot of money in 1938,” when Edwardsburg billed itself as the “biggest little spot in southern Michigan.”




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