GREENVILLE — As the Grand Dansk Parade was ending Saturday, the 48th annual Danish Festival remained busy with many people shopping the unique vendors downtown and in Veterans Park.
For the past 20 years, Diana and Larry Townsend of Charlotte have been selling their handmade sweatshirts during the festival.
“We love coming to Greenville, the Danish Festival people who set this up are real nice and the people shopping are real polite,” Diana said. “Over the years, I have repeat customers, so I usually know some sweatshirts will sell.”
Besides the great service the couple gets from the Danish Festival committee, they also enjoy some of Greenville’s local businesses.
“We love The Winter Inn,” Larry said “It is a real nice place to stay while we are in town. We enjoy eating at Mancinos and both places are convenient for us being downtown and all.”
For Liz Clark of Grand Ledge and Helen Hadlon of Ionia, their third year as vendors at the Danish Festival wasn’t as busy as previous years.
“Definitely not as good as last year,” Clark said. “Last year at this time we sold twice as many of our windsocks.”
“But if you talk to the guy a few booths up from us he is doing great,” Hadlon added. “He said he had his best Friday ever and with today’s crowd he is probably doing quite well.”
Fairy Tale Parade Gallery
Saturday’s weather was comfortable for all attending the festival.
“The weather has been perfect this year,” said Danish Festival Board President Dan Healy. “We had a small scare Thursday with the rain, but it cleared up and the Lake of Illumination and fireworks went off without a hitch.”
The board hosted several new attractions at this year’s festival.
Danish Dunk Tank Gallery
“The Art @ the Green, in my opinion, is a overwhelming success,” Healy said. “The fireworks show was great and had a good attendance.”
Some vendors felt like Friday was slower than normal, but that didn’t stop them from signing up for next year’s festival.
“Personally I felt it was a little slower in attendance, but when I came in today we had a stack of applications filled out for next year and many have paid already so that has to mean something,” Healy said.
Flat River Big Band Gallery
Saturday’s crowd was a sure sign that Danish Festival Board members know what they are doing. For Ben Gates of Coleman, Saturday was a chance to bring the family out to enjoy some quality time.
“We moved away three months ago and we will make it a point to always come back,” Gates said. “I don’t think my wife Kathy has missed it (attending the festival). She has been coming for at least 30 years now.”
Fireman’s Parade Gallery
Gates was impressed with the children’s activities and the park this year.
“The kids fun area was great for them,” Gates said. “There was face painting activities and all sorts of things for them to do.”
Despite the fun of the park and parade, Gates’ son Jack, 6, couldn’t stop talking about the dunk tank.
“I almost knocked the guy down,” Jack said. “It was awesome.”
As the Danish Festival began winding down, it was sort of bittersweet for Julie Stephens who has been director of the Danish Festival Queen and Court for eight years. This was her last year as such.
Lake of Illumination Gallery
“We have moved north to the Big Rapids area,” Stephens said. “It was a family first decision and where we wanted to go as a family. I am going to miss doing this because I just cannot be a spectator but it is better for our family as whole that we go this route.”
Stephens’ duties as queen and court director have been a full-time job.
“I have worked with eight groups of girls and planned seven pageants,” Stephens said. “I embrace this maybe a bit more than some would and I have been fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom to allow me to dedicate the amount of time that I have for the queens and her court.”
As Stephens transitions out of her role, she is committed to fulfilling her obligations as director.
“Technically my directorship doesn’t end until December so I am still planning the parade and appearances through the fall,” she said.
Over the years, she has developed close relationship with the girls and those she has worked with. She is finding it difficult to say goodbye.
“It is emotional to say goodbye, as there are a lot of people that help me each year and a lot are dear friends,” she said. “The board of directors is great and I have enjoyed working them all. It is always hard to say goodbye to something you love.”