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!