Baroda celebrates our troops

Published 7:48 am Friday, July 26, 2013

With popularity growing by leaps and bounds from 3,500 in 2011 and 6,000 in 2012, plus the addition of Elvis, Neil Diamond, Rod Stewart and Jerry Lee Lewis, who knows how many may flood into Baroda Saturday for the third annual Support Our Troops Festival? Eight thousand? Ten thousand? More?
There’s even talk of making the patriotic pageantry which provides profits to the Wounded Warrior Project, Rolling Thunder, Lest We Forget, Blue Star Mothers and Paws with a Cause for service dogs for veterans a two-day affair, although technically it already is.
The July 27 event starts at 7 a.m. and runs until 12:30 a.m. Sunday, with a week’s worth of activities crammed in between, including music, military displays, feats of strength, outdoor dancing, a gun raffle, a huge fireworks show, a parade featuring Culver Military parade horses and the award-winning Lakeshore Lancer Marching Band.
The band has been invited and is fundraising to perform in the American Liberation Victory Parade in Normandy, France, on June 6, 2014, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.
There will also be a POW/MIA ceremony, a car/truck and motorcycle show, antique tractors, a bike run, a beer tent, helicopter rides, the second honor award ceremony and flag-folding demonstrations, all centered around American Legion Post 345, 9214 First St., Baroda, and its covered pavilion.
Tribute artists playing from 1 to 7 p.m. include Elvis Presley (Irv Cass), Neil Diamond (Denny Diamond), Rod Stewart (Steve Bobbitt) and Jerry Lee Lewis (Lance Lewinsky), with Change of Habit Band and the Me and the Boys Show.
General admission costs $5, with VIP seating for 500 available for $5.
Children 10 years old and younger are admitted free.
This year’s honor award will be presented to retired Navy Commander Tom Bourdon of Muskegon, who flew an F6F-5 Hellcat on a mission during World War II which destroyed a Japanese aircraft carrier near Tokyo Bay in retaliation for the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It earned the 20-year-old a Navy Cross.
Bourdon will be recognized in front of the throng with a signed tribute from Gov. Rick Snyder, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton and state Sen. John Proos.
Support Our Troops Festival is a non-profit 501c(3) corporation founded by Carle Post from St. Joseph, who operates Baroda Gun and Bow Outpost.
He wants to give back to veterans although he isn’t one himself.
Post said last year’s honor award to a Purple Heart-decorated Vietnam veteran who was spit on when he returned home brought tears to people’s eyes.
“It’s really touching a lot of people,” Post said.

Planned events

8 a.m.-5 p.m. — Custom and classic car/truck and motorcycle “Cruze In,” live band 5th Gear and antique tractor show.
9 a.m.-10 p.m. — Vendor booths (food, motorcycle clothing and gear, lawn equipment, flags).
10 a.m.-10 p.m. — Bingo and pull tab games.
10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Bike run.
12:45 p.m. — Bikes follow in parade.
10:30 a.m. — Kids pedal pull contest.
11 a.m. — Prisoner of War/Missing in Action ceremony.
12:15 p.m. — Festival main parade with military vehicles, area veterans, Culver Military parade horses, Rolling Thunder and the Lancer band.
1-7 p.m. — Tribute artists.
1-2 p.m. — Wounded Warrior soldier bench press exhibition.
2 p.m. — Door prize giveaways.
7 p.m. — Honor award ceremony.
7:30-8:15 p.m. — Flag-folding ceremonies.
8:30 p.m. — Big outdoor dance with live band Vinylized from South Bend, Ind.
10 p.m. — Gun raffle prizes given away; $5 tickets. You need not be present to win, but must meet all legal requirements to own or purchase a firearm.
10:30 p.m. — Fireworks.

To donate

To make a tax-deductible contribution, send a check or money order payable to Support Our Troops Festival Inc., 1161 Lemon Creek Rd., P.O. Box 117, Baroda MI 49101 or call (269) 422-6000 with credit card in hand.
Go to