GREENVILLE — The smell of fresh aebleskivers, the sound of classic Danish songs echoing throughout Greenville’s historic downtown and the sight of hot air balloons bouncing across the clouds high overhead — these are the sights and sounds of the Danish Festival that brought joy to many this year, but like all things, it too had to come to an end.
The 49th annual festival has come and gone like the others before it, but the memories and spirit embodied within will live on throughout the year until the white Scandinavian cross on the red flag of Denmark is raised again next year.
From the opening ceremonies Thursday to the last scoop of ice cream handed out during the ice cream social Sunday, this year’s festival was celebrated with sunny skies, warm temperatures, thousands of visitors and countless activities that made for a “perfect” festival weekend.
“It’s been a whirlwind for sure,” said Danish Festival Queen Taylor Bretzke, 17. “It was a perfect weekend for a festival.”
Bretzke said she was pleasantly surprised by the excitement of this year’s festival. From riding in a hot air balloon for the first time, to waving and smiling back at young girls and boys during the Grand Dansk Parade, she described her experience as nothing short of amazing.
Thousands of visitors to the Danish Festival City crowded Lafayette Street throughout the weekend, peeking into various vendor shops, with many stopping to enjoy one of the many musical acts that performed on the grand stage.
On Saturday, thousands of residents and visitors lined up and down Cass, Clay and Grove streets for the festival’s signature event, the Grand Dansk Parade.
Spectators were entertained by marching bands that included the Danish Festival Band, Greenville and Belding high schools, Greenville Middle School, the Scottville Clown Band and the Plymouth Fife and Drum Corps.
Festival queens and their courts from throughout the area waved to the crowd, and superheroes, from Spider Man to the Incredible Hulk, shook hands with young fans who jumped in excitement from the curb.
From the truck and tractor pull show Saturday evening to the fun-filled kids day events on Sunday afternoon, there was something exciting for everyone who ended this year’s festival.
“I think it’s been one of the best festivals we’ve had yet,” said Ann Harvey, one of the members of the Danish Festival Board of Directors. “It was well attended and fantastically coordinated.”
Harvey said it was a thrill to see the festival thrive again this year, as she often missed out on the festivities while growing up in Greenville.
“I grew up here, I graduated from here, but I never even came to these events,” she said. “So, for me to see this side of it, it was just great. I’ll be doing this for a long time.”
For Jerod Anderson and his family, the Danish Festival was a new and exciting experience, as the family had only recently moved to Greenville from Midland.
“It’s been crazy, there’s been traffic everywhere, but it’s been very exciting,” he said. “We just moved here and we love it here. It’s been good, so far.”
Anderson’s daughters, Kylee, 12, and Kaycee, 8, said they both enjoyed the experience of shopping downtown, but were overjoyed on Sunday when the finished second and third in the Ugly Duckling Race at Jackson’s Landing Park.
Now that this year’s festivities have come to and end, one can only wonder what is in store next year when the city celebrates the festival’s 50th anniversary.