Dowagiac offers weekend fun for the whole family

Published 9:26 am Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dowagiac's Summer in the City will feature several events and special guests, including AGA Nation, a BMX show group. (Submitted photo)

Dowagiac’s Summer in the City will feature several events and special guests, including AGA Nation, a BMX show group. (Submitted photo)

DOWAGIAC — Visitors and residents in the Dowagiac area have a fun-filled weekend to look forward to with the return of the Summer in the City Festival.

Now in its 29th year, the festival will take place over four days, July 24 through 27, at a variety of locations, and the line-up of planned activities has something to offer for everyone.

Opening on Thursday at 4 p.m., the ‘Jack Festival Center, sponsored by the Wounded Minnow Saloon and located next to Twistee’s, will be a hub for the weekend’s activities. Over the course of the festival, event-goers can enjoy karaoke contests, Princess Parties, happy hours with food and drink, and magic shows, among other activities.

Funded by 13 corporate sponsors and a grant from the Pokagon Fund, Summer in the City is the community’s oldest and largest summertime festival.

“While the festival in recent years had been funded primarily by grant dollars, this year’s event truly represents a strong commitment to our community by local corporations that have stepped forward to help underwrite the $12,000 four-day event,” said Vicki Phillipson, program director for the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce and DDA.

For those who love live music, the festival has booked a variety of acts known for playing different genres of music, including rock, rhythm and blues, country, folk and today’s favorite covers. Acts appearing at the festival include Kalamazoo Avenue, The Outta Towners, Tex Mex musician Rene Meave, Rebel Pride, Due Process, Exit 41 and Jordi.

There will also be dance exhibitions presented by the Pokagon Band Dance & Drum Troop, Miss Michele & Co., MKSOD and Positively Dance.

Food lovers will not want to miss the second annual Taste of Dowagiac, scheduled to take place from 2 until 7 p.m. on Friday.

With Dowagiac’s growing reputation as a town full of fine and casual dining choices, the Taste of Dowagiac will provide participants with the opportunity to sample to cuisine from 10 area restaurants, including Beeson Street Bar & Grill, Caruso’s Candy Kitchen, Deb’s Café, The Eagles, Foodies, Mimi Sarducci’s, Saylor’s Front Street Pizzeria, Trackside Restaurant, Wood Fire Italian Trattoria and The Wounded Minnow Saloon.

Patrons will enjoy a mix of hors d’oeuvre-sized specialties at each location.  Tickets, priced at $10 each, are now on sale at each of the host sites.

“The debut year of this event was very successful,” said Kim MacGregor, Chamber of Commerce president.  “The Chamber of Commerce and each of the restaurants received great feedback.  For the restaurants, this led to new and repeat business.”

Many events have also been planned to entertain younger event-goers.

Children’s activities include a petting zoo and pony rides, a dunk tank hosted by the Dowagiac Department of Public Safety, inflatables provided by Judd Lumber Building Supply & Rental Center, Rubber Ducky Races presented by Dowagiac Fine Arts Boosters, the Curious Kids Museum hosted by Dowagiac Public Library, a Ronald McDonald magic show and pedal cars presented by Crystal Springs Camp & Retreat.

Action sports entertainment company, AGA Nation, will also be returning to downtown Dowagiac for the festival as BMX riders bring their thrilling stunts to Commercial St. According to Vickie Phillipson, Chamber of Commerce program director, high-flying riders will be featured during three daily shows on Friday and Saturday, July 25 and 26, at 1, 3 and 5 p.m.

AGA Nation will host a special BMX clinic on both days for any rider who wishes to participate. The clinic is free, courtesy of the festival and its underwriters, and local riders should bring their own helmets and bikes.

Phillipson also said that organizers plan to close Front Street to through-traffic on Friday and Saturday to accommodate the summer sidewalk sales planned by local specialty shops.  Additional nonprofit and commercial vendors have also been invited to set up booths and join the festival.

Finally, a new addition to the Summer in the City schedule is the extension of the activities into Sunday, as ACTION hosts a community-wide worship service and family picnic at the ‘Jack Festival Center, beginning at 11 a.m.

A full schedule of Summer in the City events can be obtained by calling the Chamber of Commerce at (269) 782-8212 or by visiting their website at