“A Frozen Fish Fling!”
“What do you do? Fling a frozen fish?”
Hilarity broke out among the crowds as the Ice Breaker Festival's new event ensued - a Frozen Fish Fling. It is as simple as it sounds. You fling a frozen fish as far as you can. Who ever throws the fish the farthest gets a cash prize! The two runner ups get amazing little fish trophies. What unique bragging rights!!!
The idea for this new event emerged with the 25th Anniversary of the Ice Breaker Festival. “We wanted to do something really fun for our twenty fifth” smiled Susan, the Assistant Director of the South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce, and Vice President of the National Blueberry Festival Board. “The Frozen Fish Fling was a great solution! It's light-hearted, simple and just a lot of fun!”
Susan pulled the event together which included sourcing bottom dwelling sucker fish that are not good to eat. “We wanted to use a fish that would have otherwise been thrown out. It's important that we have fun in a responsible way...and I am glad we did - people loved this event!”
Now, if there is anyone who can smell a fun event a mile away – it's the National Blueberry Festival! Excited to have some winter exposure and always up for laughing the festival was proud to host the new event, the Frozen Fish Fling. When the big day came there were about 80 adult participants and just under 100 kids. Everyone of them smiling!
Anna Krajecki, John Deschaine, Sharon Chun, Christine Chun, and Brenda Dagget, were the hardy volunteers that bundled up, and ran around with clip boards and fish buckets to make this event happen! Not only were they swift and professional, they were charming and vibrant with the crowds and contestants, making the atmosphere around the Frozen Fish Fling a warm and jovial space. Thank you all! (Additionally, we'd like to thank that 'random guy' that started helping us collect the fish from the far side of the field; whoever you are – you were such a hero. Thank you!
The top three winners of the adult category got stunning trophies. The first place winner split entrances fees with the National Blueberry Festival. The Frozen Fish Fling was not meant to be a fund raiser, but it covered it's cost, an even came out on top. Thank you to everyone who donated and participated! The Chamber's great marketing of this event and festival is obvious. There was about 400 people watching, laughing, flinging or just having fun!
“We want to say a huge thank you to the South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce for inviting us to be part of this new event,” says John Deschaine, National Blueberry Festival's Board President, and Head of Marketing at Do-It Corporation. “The Chamber does a lot for the community, and the success of this event is just one more example of the effort they put behind local businesses and organizations. We think they are just great!”
John was one of the 6 volunteers that joined, the volunteers, out in the cold chasing fish. Thank you John!
When the Miss South Haven Scholarship Pageant announced it's 2018 theme of blueberries, the National Blueberry Festival was jumping out of its seat to be involved. The festival that “celebrates everything blueberry,” is always thrilled to see that the impact of blueberry production has not been lost on local community members. It certainly wasn't lost on Brandie Rainey, chair of the Miss South Haven Scholarship Pageant. “When we heard that this year's pageant was meant to 'roll out the red carpet' for something in our community, we all knew it had to be blueberries!” Brandie and her committee sought out local partners as ways to ignite education around the industry. “This pageant is really about learning, and an opportunity to encounter new people, new understanding, and shape a new view of yourself and your community.” As a prize to the winners, the Board of Directors for the National Blueberry Festival will be hosting a dinner party for the 2018 Court. It will be a chance to educate the students on the unique side of the industry that the festival runs.
“We are elated to be included in such a big event to our community,” said Megan Cairns, Director of the National Blueberry Festival. “The Miss South Haven Court is one of the greatest ambassadors for our town, and to have them highlighting blueberries is just awesome. They have given us as a festival, great exposure, and we are so grateful!”
The South Haven Court and the National Blueberry Festival have a tradition in which the court is crowned the “Blueberry Court” during the 2nd weekend of August. Here they act as both ambassadors and volunteers at many of the festival's sites and events. “Becoming the Blueberry Court is a highlight for the students,” smiles Brianne Hooper, Pageant Director for the festival's Youth Pageant/Community Opportunity, and committee member of the Miss South Haven Scholarship Pageant. “It is a part of the package that the students really enjoy and look forward to every year. We want them to engage even more this year! The court is used to working hard and giving back to the community. We feel that they have a lot to offer.”
In addition to the Blueberry Court is the festival's own Little Miss Blueberry court – the winners of the Youth Pageant/Community Opportunity. They are chosen during the kick off of the festival, and represent the festival throughout the year. “The Little Miss Blueberry Court did amazing representing and helping at the pageant in January,” Megan says. “They were so professional, proud and confident on stage. We really appreciate what they and their families do for us. They may be little, but they are doing great things!”
The 2017 Miss South Haven Court volunteered 50 hours for a four day festival! The 2018 Court has already threatened to top that! They surely will, as Megan has big plans for both Blueberry Courts. Their incredible attitudes, desire to learn and to give back fits perfectly among South Haven's key event. Among other task at the National Blueberry Festival, the Miss South Haven Scholarship Pageant will be working the festival's signature event – the Blueberry Pie Eating Contest, sponsored by Golden Brown Bakery, True Blue Farms, and McDonalds of South Haven and Bangor.
The National Blueberry Festival supported the Miss South Haven Scholarship Pageant at the Gold level through in kind donations of balloons, helium, cases of pop and water, wristbands, and a gift card to put towards redoing their float. The festival is very proud of the opportunity to tighten it's partnership with such an awesome and impactful group.
Well, the last of the blueberry harvest is here in Southwest Michigan. The resilient, final berries are being frozen, puréed, and put into golden pies.
This time of year, it's important to remember that blueberries don't “just happen.” A harvest of these awesome little bites, takes an entire community of people. No one demonstrates this more than MBG Marketing and its collaborative Board of Directors led by CEO, Larry Ensfield.
MBG Marketing is an industry leader that strives to produce, market, and sell blueberries while keeping growers at the center of decision making. Their heart and headquarters are in Grand Junction, Michigan, although don't be surprised if you find them all across the state and across boarders, including Indiana, Oregon, Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, and British Columbia. The biggest out of state operation is the 'Best in Class' and IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) facilities in Alma, Georgia. Their best practice mindset and local focus has respectfully and rightly earned them the title of The Blueberry People.
We celebrate the 100th birthday of Chemical Bank this year. After decades of serving in the city of South Haven, it is no surprise that Chemical Bank has stepped up to the plate to support the National Blueberry Festival at a Platinum level! For them it was a no brainer. “I am really glad it worked out,” says Dorothy Lockwood Manager of the M43 branch and the woman behind the giving. “We love National Blueberry Festival, and I love blueberries! We want to ensure we spread our support around. That’s the joy of the way our banking system is set up. We are a small bank with big community support. This allows us to plug into the community in valuable, locally fitting ways.”
We're always working on ways to improve the National Blueberry Festival, and looking for great partners in the community that can help us raise the bar for what a festival can and should be!
This year, we're excited to partner with Red Cross of South Haven to offer a first aid, hydration and hospitality tent at the Riverfront Park. If you need a drink of water, a place to get out of the hot sun for a few minutes, or a band-aid, our amazing volunteers will be more than happy to assist! The Red Cross tent at Riverfront Park will be open Thursday 5-10pm, Friday 11am-11pm, Saturday 11am-11pm, and Sunday 11am-3pm.
Big thanks to Red Cross of Southwest Michigan!
2019 National Blueberry Festival Resources!