Greenville’s annual Danish Festival descending

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 7:21 pm on Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bob Johnson, left, and Dan Eagles work on setting up Montcalm County Habitat For Humanity's float for the 47th annual Grand Dansk Parade, which starts at 11 a.m. Saturday. The float will include Nashville singer Monique Doolittle, who will be one of the entertainers at Habitat for Humanity's country music benefit at Greenville Community Church at 7 p.m. Saturday. Johnson is a builder from Fenwick and Eagles is a retired teacher and guidance counselor from Greenville Public Schools. (Daily News/Ryan Schlehuber )

GREENVILLE — There are only hours left before the 47th annual Danish Festival takes over Greenville for a fun-filled weekend.

The flag-raising ceremony will kick off the celebration of Greenville’s Danish heritage at 6:30 p.m. today at Heritage Park at Washington and Lafayette streets next to City Hall.

Organizers are excited for the events to begin and put the spotlight on Greenville after a year of planning.

“It’s a celebration of community,” said Executive Board President Dan Healy of the festival. “People can mingle and have a good time.”

He said there is a diversity of entertainment for people to enjoy that goes from the stage to the arts and crafts fair.

“There is something for everyone,” he said.

Organizing four days full of fun for all ages is no small task. The nonprofit Danish Festival Inc. is in charge of the weekend’s events and is comprised of volunteers, the executive board and the directors who work to put the festival together.

“It takes the hundreds of people to put it together,” Executive Board Vice President Amanda Leitch-Lee said.

The executive board and the event directors already start planning for the next festival — always the third full weekend in August — as soon as the festival ends each year.

“Our big strategic meeting is in January,” Leitch-Lee said. “We review the festival to find improvements to make the best possible festival for the next year.”

The festival is geared for all ages with a wide variety of events to suit nearly everyone’s taste.

“Each year, the women and men of the Danish Festival work very hard to assure that everyone has a great time and that we make the Greenville area proud,” she said. “We invite those who haven’t seen it to come check it out and we welcome those back who have.”

Festival organizers are looking forward to the Dirt Diggin’ Danes tractor pulls on Saturday evening at the new Montcalm County 4-H Fairgrounds.

“It’s a big deal for us that we hope to get it going,” Healy said.

He pointed out tractor pulls are popular at other festivals,  and he hopes it can become one of the Danish Festival’s many main events.

To help kick off the festival, Leitch-Lee encourages people to check out the Lake of Illumination at Baldwin Lake on Thursday. Boats and cottages on the lake are decorated with Danish themes.

“It has really grown the last couple of years and that’s exciting for us,” Leitch-Lee said.

She enjoys the Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale Parade on Friday evening because people can see the excitement and joy in the children’s eyes when they participate in the festival.

Leitch-Lee said the fireman’s parade on Friday evening is another highlight because of the way it pays tribute to the people who serve in Montcalm County and surrounding areas.

“It’s just wonderful,” Leitch-Lee said.

Family Fun Day on Sunday is a hit among families.

“It’s a time for families to get together to participate in a variety of activities,” she said.

The children’s events at the Tower Riverside Park on Friday and Saturday also give children the opportunity to have an educational experience exploring the heritage of Denmark.

For adults, the Tivoli Gardens beer tent at the Montcalm County Armory is a way for family and friends to get together, Leitch-Lee added.

Public Services Director Michael Chesher said the city has been working hard to get the area ready for the festival.

Public Services is responsible for closing the streets and providing items such as picnic tables.

“Generally we make sure everything looks good” Chesher said.

Today, Public Services will be going around making sure the streets and parking lots are swept and making sure brush is picked up around the city.

Chesher asked if they have already been around to pick up brush, to not put more brush back by the road until after the festival.

“We have to put our best foot forward,” Chesher said.

The weather forecast for the weekend looks mostly promising.

Today and Friday should be mostly sunny, Saturday should be partly sunny with scattered thunderstorms and Sunday will be partly sunny, according to the WZZM-TV13 Weather Center. High temperatures should range from the upper 70s to low 80s all weekend.


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