SIDNEY — One of Montcalm County’s “best-kept secrets” got its chance to shine this weekend at the 26th annual Heritage Village Festival.
“This is our 26th year for the festival and we started with only two buildings,” said Miriam Zimmerman, secretary of the Heritage Village Committee. “We continue to add new buildings or new events every year, but there are still so many people, even those who live locally, that don’t know we are here. We are one of Montcalm County’s best kept secrets.”
Montcalm Community College’s Heritage Village was established in 1987. This year’s festival featured a large number of quilts in the quilt show and a large number of participants in the Civil War re-enactment. They did, however, have a smaller number of people attending.
“The weather was a real detriment. It was just too hot,” said Zimmerman, “The turnout was good until about noon each day and then it was just slow.”
Working in the Rush Dairy, one of 26 historical buildings, volunteer Elly Kempf of Six Lakes said she sold a good share of ice cream treats.
“We are like a lot of people around here,” she said. “We didn’t know the village was here until recently. Then we got involved and really enjoy it.”
Younger visitors enjoyed penny candy and pickles at the Sidney General Store, and many participated in historic school re-enactments.“A lot of the kids come
year after year until they get too old,” said Sharon Ritter, who has served as “school marm” for 13 years. She taught 18 children from kindergarten to eighth grade in Gaffield School.
Charity Gommesen, 11, of Howard City and Addison Bolz, 7, of Newburn, N.C., are two students who reunite their friendship every year at the three-day festival.
“I like coming here. I like the jail because then I can pretend I’m a bad guy,” said Bolz, who enjoyed the village with her brother Cade, 9, and her grandparents, Neal and Marilyn Hughes of Grand Rapids.
A new event this year, threshing with a steam tractor, was very successful, according to Zimmerman. Students from the Montcalm Area Career Center and local Future Farmers of America worked up the plot, planted and harvested the grain and put it into shocks ready for the thresher.
Vintage baseball returned with games on Saturday afternoon and the 3rd Michigan Infantry Company F demonstrated the Civil War era lifestyle with costumes, trades and activities.
“It has been a lot of fun here,” said Kelly Schaafsma of Grand Rapids, in her first year in Sidney. “I will definitely come back next year.”
Cathy Benson of Stanton, of the 3rd Michigan Infantry Company F, enjoys returning year after year.
“I get to see a lot of people I know and it is so peaceful here,” Benson said.
Jerry and Linda Stockton of Vestaburg are also annual visitors.
“It’s a chance to go back in time,” said Linda Stockton.
Katie West of Portland brought two of her children and spent three hours watching vintage baseball, playing house and enjoying other activities.
“It was good wholesome fun for the kids, I bought some hot dogs and pop, we spent less than $10 and had a great afternoon,” she said as the children enjoyed one last spin on the merry-go-round.
The quilt show inside at the Beatrice E. Doser Building had record-breaking 98 quilts to display, according to Ellen Thompson, a member of the Quilter’s Quorum based in Edmore.
The Viewer’s Choice award went to Jeann Giles-Vanneste for her “The Raven” quilt while Nancy Bannen’s “Starburst Quilt” tied for second place with Kate Maiga’s “Favorite Things.”
Mary Burris’ table runner won in the Quilter’s Quorum Contest, where 12 contestants had only one yard of material to create their product. Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville area resident.