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Charlevoix Kicks Off Venetian Festival

July 23, 2008

By Sheri McWhirter, The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Mich.

Jul. 23–CHARLEVOIX — Boats, music and community events return to downtown Charlevoix this week for the 78th annual Venetian Festival.

Sandra and Darrell Ashby, of Ontario, strolled through East Park on Tuesday morning and made plans to soak up festival activities before they splash their yacht back out into Lake Michigan this weekend.

“Our boys are looking forward to the midway rides,” Sandra Ashby said, while her husband is anxious for the lineup of musical performances.

Locals and visitors alike are expected to gather in downtown Charlevoix this week for the festival, which coincides with the grand opening of East Park. The park was under renovation construction for nearly two years, causing last year’s festival to be relocated to Michigan Beach Park, officials said.

New boat slips and a seawall were completed in the harbor, along with a new harbor master building, performance pavilion and freshly landscaped open space throughout the park. The $12 million park project was expected to be completed sooner, but at least it’s done in time for the Venetian Festival, said Pat Elliott, project manager for the city of Charlevoix.

“The grand opening of the park will be a big part of it,” he said.

The renovated park should be well showcased during the festival, officials said.

“We’re thrilled to be the debut event in East Park,” said Dan Barron, festival president.

Events are scheduled today through Saturday and include musical acts, athletic competitions, children’s activities, fireworks displays and the well-known boat parade in Round Lake Harbor.

“We pride ourselves on being a big-time festival with small town appeal,” Barron said.

Carnival rides open today and there also will be Bingo for seniors, a sailing regatta, Ultimate Air Dogs performances and both soccer and volleyball competitions. Music at the pavilion begins at 6 p.m.

Kid’s Day begins Thursday at Lake Michigan Beach Park and other activities are scheduled throughout the day. Friday will bring the Venetian Queen coronation, more music and activities, plus fireworks over Lake Charlevoix.

Saturday events include the street parade, boat parade and another round of fireworks over Round Lake Harbor.

For more information, call (231) 547-3872 or visit www.venetianfestival.com.

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