Category Archives: Founders Festival

Was the Greater Farmington Area Founders Festival a success?

Founders Festival parade
The 2016 Founders Festival parade had 84 entries, more than in recent years. 

A month after the Greater Farmington Area Founders Festival, organizers are calling it “a big success for the Chamber and the community.”

“We did very well this year,” former Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce director Dan Irvin told Farmington council members Monday. “Had we had the liquor license Thursday night, we would have passed last year’s numbers.”

Typically, the Festival runs its Red, White and Brew tent with alcohol Thursday through Saturday. However, a delay at the Liquor Control Commission (LCC) meant a “dry” Thursday. Irvin explained that the LCC received the Festival application on June 30 and cashed the check for it on July 1. That’s supposed to trigger the 10-day waiting period, but because of the holiday weekend, the paperwork “stayed on someone’s desk” until July 5, moving the effective date to July 15.

“Telling five hundred people who wanted to drink that they couldn’t was not fun,” Irvin said, adding the tent was opened up to all ages Thursday evening.

Other success stories included the Farmington Elks pig roast selling out at 4 p.m. on Saturday, a larger number of parade entries, and more than 400 kids at the Farmington YMCA’s Kids Day in the Park at Shiawassee Park on Thursday. Teens and tween also flocked to a Swing Dance, Battle of the Bands, and karaoke. That impressed council member Sara Bowman.

“I appreciated the comment you made about engaging the teens and tweens, and you did it,” she said. “That was just a huge success on top of all the wonderful things.”

Council member Greg Cowley expressed appreciation for the scores of volunteers who helped make the Festival happen. He suggested that the Chamber work with Art on the Grand organizers at the City of Farmington Hills to give a discount to artists who would like to have a booth at both events.

“That would stimulate more art for the festival,” he said.

Irvin said while there’s always room for growth, the Festival has “made great strides” toward becoming more “family friendly”.

“Farmington is a small community, but the people are powerful and when they get behind you, there’s nothing you can’t do,” Irvin said.

Greater Farmington Founders Festival Fireworks Finale

The Greater Farmington Founders Festival continues today with a pancake breakfast hosted by the Harrison High School Football Boosters, entertainment on the Meijer Kids  Zone stage, Elks Pig Roast and Challenge Butter Old Fashioned Corn Roast, and Dream Raffle drawing. Learn more at

In case you missed it, here’s the finale from Saturday’s fireworks display, sponsored by Brightside Dental:

Streets close today for Founders Festival Run, Grand Parade

The Greater Farmington Founders Festival Grand Parade, with the theme “Disco Fever: I Love the Night Life,” steps off at 10 a.m. today and moves west on Grand River through downtown Farmington.

Pre-parade activities include a local business mascot race starting at 9:20 a.m. on Grand River. In addition, Founders Festival runners will come through Grand River on their way to the finish line in Shiawassee Park.

Grand River will be closed to traffic from 8:45 a.m. to 12 p.m. for the run and the parade.

Entertainment begins on the Meijer Kids Zone stage in Riley Park after the parade, as does a performance by the Peace Jubilee Civil War Band on the lawn at Farmington City Hall on Grand River, near the History Booth.

For a full list of Saturday activities, visit

Earth Angels marks 30 years with Founders Festival appearance

In 1986, Lisa Campos-Dewitt began teaching neighborhood kids to dance in her backyard, a hobby that would become a life-long vocation.

Earth Angels

Earth Angels will mark its 30th year with a July 16 performance on the Meijer Kids Zone stage at noon, immediately after the Greater Farmington Founders Festival Grand Parade. The 26 members, boys and girls ranging in age from 8 to 18, will perform dance routines to “Oldies” from the 1950s and 1960s, with authentic costumes from the era, all choreographed by Campos-Dewitt. The show is fast moving, comedic at times and involves a lot of audience participation, enjoyed by young and old.

Campos-Dewitt’s goal for three decades has been to teach kids how to give back with just a song and a dance, and her passion and dedication has drawn not only kids, but their parents, into the Earth Angels family. Bonnie Murphy got involved in late 1990’s when her then 9-year-old daughter, Cari, joined. She stayed on with the group long after her daughter left, and helps wherever she can.

“It is a magical combination of parent volunteers, Lisa’s donation of time and talent, very dedicated boys and girls and a lot of sweat equity that keeps the group going,” Murphy said. “We are self-funded, so all of the revenue that the group brings in goes towards replenishing worn-out costumes, props and sound equipment. The group members are taken on a trip after the summer performing season in appreciation for their hard work.”

“Lisa’s method is tried and true,” said Steve Palizzi, father of members Nick and Sophia. “The older members mentor the younger ones and help them learn the routines. There is a bond that is created in this process and they all look after each other as a result.

“People like Lisa are few and far between,” Murphy added. “She has devoted the last thirty years of her life for the benefit of others.”

The Earth Angels’ 30th anniversary also marks the introduction of the Earth Angel Juniors, comprised of kids who are younger than the group’s regular members. Campos-Dewitt’s son, Marco, and daughter, Sofi, have joined, as has Murphy’s granddaughter, Lana.

“The group has truly come full circle now,” Campos-Dewitt said, “and hopefully the meaning and the message will carry on for generations to come.”

The Meijer Kids Zone stage is located in Riley Park at Grand River and Grove Street in downtown Farmington. For more information about the group, visit

Ride a monster truck at Farmington Founders Festival

A 12-foot-high monster truck will roll into Shiawassee Park Friday, as part of the Greater Farmington Founders Festival, held July 14-17 in and around downtown Farmington.

Monster Truck

Professional monster truck driver Shelley Kujat had the vehicle specially made eight years ago, to give her fans a taste of what she experiences when she competes. Shelley’s husband, Ron, said the ride has seat belts and other safety features, including someone on the ground who is able to remotely control the vehicle if something goes wrong. All four wheels stay on the ground, even though it won’t feel like it.

“We designed it to give a thrilling ride for up to nine people,” Ron Kujat said. “People describe it as a ‘rollercoaster on rubber tires’.”

The Shell-Camino Monster Truck is one of a kind, and “great family entertainment,” he added. “What’s nice about it is the whole family can ride in the back and share the memories.”

Shelley Kujat, one of just 16 female monster truck drivers, will be at the park to sign autographs and meet and greet fans. There will also be a table with monster truck merchandise. Rides are $8 per person, $15 for two people. Hours are:

  • Thursday, July 14: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Friday, July 15: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 16: 12 p.m.-6 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 17: 12 p.m.-5 p.m.

Learn more about the Shell-Camino Monster Truck at Learn more about the Greater Farmington Founders Festival at

Watch Farmington Hills officials get ‘creamed’ for a good cause

Mayor Ken Massey
Mayor Ken Massey 

City of Farmington Hills officials will get “creamed” July 14, to help kick off the annual blueberry pie sale fundraiser for the Meals on Wheels program.

“We usually host a pie eating contest,” said Marsha Koet, Senior Adult Program Supervisor. “But we decided to try something a little different. We’re hoping to increase our fundraising by switching to a pie throwing contest this year. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the City’s Meals on Wheels program.”

City Manager Dave Boyer
City Manager Dave Boyer

The fun begins at 12:30 p.m. in Conway Hall at the Costick Center, 28600 W. 11 Mile Rd. Mayor Ken Massey, City Manager Dave Boyer, Police Chief Charles Nebus, Fire Lieutenant Jamie Neufeld, Special Services Director Ellen Schnackel, and Camp Counselors Kaitlin Stieber and Dan Church have volunteered to take a pie in the face for a good cause.

Participants can purchase raffle tickets at the Costick Center main desk at $1, or $5 for 10 tickets. The raffle winners will be chosen at random on the day of the contest from ticket containers designated for each contestant. Each winner will then have the chance to throw a cream pie.

For more information, call 248-473- 1800.

Your guide to the 2016 Greater Farmington Area Founders Festival

A jam-packed 2016 Greater Farmington Founders Festival gets underway Thursday, with free activities for kids in Shiawassee Park. Here’s a guide to what’s happening during this year’s disco-themed festival and how to navigate around downtown Farmington during the event (learn more at

  • Thursday, July 14: Kids Day in the Park, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., and Live At Five in the Beer Tent, 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
  • Friday, July 15: 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 16: 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 17: 12 p.m.-5 p.m.

Admission is free. There are fees for some activities, and a $5 cover charge for the Red, White and Brew tent.


Festival activities take place along Grand River, from Grove Street to the Governor Warner Mansion; along Farmington Road south of Grand River; and at Shiawassee Park:


Parking & Shuttle Service

Lots at the Downtown Farmington Center and behind Page’s Food & Spirits on Farmington Road will be closed for festival activities. Alternatives are lots on Orchard Street, at the Maxfield Training Center on Thomas Street, and the Village Commons Mall (north side of Grand River, east of Grove Street). Keep an eye out – some downtown Farmington lots are time-limited Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. (There’s a map of all parking lots and time limits at Grab a shuttle ride at Farmington High School, 32000 Shiawassee, or Drakeshire Lanes, 35000 Grand River.

Bingo tent


Farmington High Music Patrons sponsor this activity, which is located in a tent near Farmington Insurance on Grand River. Open Thursday, 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Friday, 6 p.m.-11 p.m. (free kids’ bingo 4 p.m.-6 p.m.), Saturday, 6 p.m.-11 p.m.

Botsford Hospital's Band-Aid brigade works the crowd.
Botsford Hospital’s Band-Aid brigade works the crowd during the 2015 Grand Parade.
Botsford Grand Parade

Arrive at Grand River and Farmington Road at 9:40 a.m. on Saturday to watch local business mascots race for bragging rights. The parade, with the theme, “Disco Fever: I Love the Nightlife”, steps off at 10 a.m. and travels west on Grand River, which will be closed from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the Founders Festival Run and the parade.

Challenge Butter Corn on the Cob Eating Contest

Open to kids and adults on Saturday, 1 p.m.-2 p.m. at the Meijer Kids Zone stage. Winners in each division receive a $100 Meijer gift certificate, and Farmington/Farmington Hills mayors will compete for bragging rights.

Crafters Marketplace

Open on Farmington Road south of Grand River Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sunday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.

Dream Raffle

For just $20, this Greater Farmington Area Chamber fundraiser gives you a chance at winning your choice of a 2-year lease on one of three cars: 2016 Ford Mustang Convertible, 2016 Volvo S60 T5 Inscription, or 2016 Buick Enclave – or $15,000 cash.

Tickets are being sold pre-Festival at LOC Federal Credit Union, and the Greater Farmington Area Chamber office. During the Festival, you can pick up  a ticket at the Chamber office, 33425 Grand River, or the Chamber tent in the Downtown Farmington Center lot. The drawing will take place Sunday, between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., and you do not have to be present to win. Call 248-919-6917 to learn more.

Huron River Club

Farmington Farmers and Artisans Market

The Saturday market will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Huron River Hunting and Fishing Club, 22575 Farmington Rd. in Farmington.



Bring a blanket or chair to Shiawassee Park at dusk on Saturday to watch a free fireworks display.

Food & Beverages

Elks Pig Roast and Old Fashioned Corn Roast

  • Location: Adjacent to the Red, White & Brew tent
  • Hours: Thursday, 5 p.m.-11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
  • Serving: Hearty sandwiches, corn on the cob, and frosty adult beverages

Festival Food Court

  • Location: Downtown Farmington Center lot
  • Hours: Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
  • Serving: A variety of festival fare

Red, White & Brew tent (21 & older only)

  • Location: Downtown Farmington Center lot
  • Hours: Thursday, 5 p.m.-11 p.m.; Friday, 1 p.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 12 p.m.-11 p.m.
  • Serving: Michigan craft beer and wine

Pancake brunch, presented by the Harrison High Football Boosters

  • Location: Red, White & Brew tent, Downtown Farmington Center lot
  • Hours: Sunday, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Serving: Pancakes, sausage, water, juice, and coffee

Downtown Farmington restaurants

Founders Festival Run

This 4-mile run kicks off Saturday in Shiawassee Park, with an 8:30 a.m. warm-up and the race at 9 a.m. Runners finish on the Grand River parade route. Sign up and learn more here:

Petting Zoo
Kids will enjoy a mini farm festival at the Governor Warner Mansion. (contributed photo)
Heritage and History

Governor Warner Mansion – 33805 Grand River

  • Thursday, 7 p.m.-9 p.m.: Night Fever disco party ($5 admission, kids ages 8 and under admitted free)
  • Friday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.: Mini farm festival complete with a petting zoo, pony rides, face paintings, and balloon animals. Cost is $8 per child. Police cars and fire trucks will be onsite.
  • Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Flea market, live music, tea salon, and museum tours. The Peace Jubilee Civil War Band performs at 1:30 p.m., and a Farmington Community Band ensemble at 3:30 p.m.

History Booth & Tours – south side of Grand River, in front of Farmington City Hall

The tent offers local history resources, books, and pamphlets, along with free, 45-minute historical tours in an air-conditioned bus, on Saturday at 3 p.m., 4 p.m., and 5 p.m. Local historian Brian Golden will be your guide. Look for the Peace Jubliee band playing Civil War-era music near the History Booth after Saturday’s Grand Parade. For information, call 248-701-8112.

Hot Air Balloon Rides

Tethered in Shiawassee Park on Friday, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Cost is $10 per person.

Swing Farmington
Swing Farmington dances light up the Walter E. Sundquist Farmington Pavilion on Thursday.
Kids and Teens
  • Kids Day in the Park: Thursday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Hosted by the Farmington Family YMCA, this event will include carnival games, tug o’ war, crazy hair and face painting, Fire and Police visit, Tiny Tot Zone, and crafts.
  • Swing Farmington: Thursday, 8 p.m.-11 p.m.: Swing dance to live music by Nobody’s Business, $5 cover charge.
  • Meijer Kids Zone: Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m., in Riley Park: Kids vendors, face painting, sandy candy, spin art, kids games, inflatables, giveaways, and entertainment all three days.
  • Warner Mansion: Friday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.: Enjoy a petting zoo, pony rides, face paintings, and balloon animals. Cost $7 per child.
  • Teen Karaoke and Dance Party: Friday, 7 p.m.-10 p.m., Riley Park
  • School of Rock Battle of the Bands: Saturday, 6 p.m., Riley Park
Library Book Sale

The Annual Farmington Friends of the Library Book Sale will take place at the downtown Liberty St. branch Friday through Sunday. Friends of the Library are invited to a special pre-sale on Thursday, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., and you can join the Friends at the preview event.

Monster Truck

Monster Truck Rides

Climb aboard a specially designed, nine-passenger Monster Truck. Cost is $8 per person, $15 for two riders. Hours are:

  • Thursday, July 14: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Friday, July 15: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 16: 12 p.m.-6 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 17: 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
Movie Under the Stars

The fun starts at dusk on Friday in Shiawassee Park, with a showing of The Muppet Movie.


These acts are all featured at the Red, White and Brew tent:

  • Thursday, 7 p.m.-11 p.m.: Soniq Cell
  • Friday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m.: Sam Van Wagner
  • Friday: 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.: Twisted Root Revival
  • Friday: 7 p.m.-11 p.m.: Killer Flamingos
  • Saturday: 1 p.m.-3 p.m.: Jibs Brown
  • Saturday: 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.: Laith Al-Saadi from NBC’s “The Voice”
  • Saturday: 7 p.m.-11 p.m.: Square Pegz

Correction: The list of locations for Dream Raffle ticket sales has been corrected. 

Prizes, honor at stake in ‘corny’ Founders Festival competition

Corn on the Cob Contest
Challenge Butter sponsored a corn on the cob eating contest at Ribfest, held last month in Naperville, Illinois. (contributed photo)

Gift certificates and bragging rights are at stake in a new competition added to the 2016 Greater Farmington Founders Festival, which opens this week in downtown Farmington.

Challenge Butter is sponsoring the July 16 Corn on the Cob Eating Contest, held from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on the Meijer Kids Zone Stage in Riley Park. Winners in the adult and kids’ division will be “whoever cleans the cob the fastest,” said Kristin Curle Houchins, Greater Farmington Area Chamber events and communications director. Each cob will be slathered in all-natural Challenge Butter.

Top finishers in each division will receive a $100 Meijer gift certificate. There’s no cost to enter, and contestants may register on site the day of the event.

In addition, Houchins said, mayors Bill Galvin of Farmington and Ken Massey of Farmington Hills will compete with former Farmington Hills mayor Barry Brickner for “bragging rights.”

Challenge Butter is also sponsoring the Old-Fashioned Corn Roast that will be part of the Farmington Elks Pig Roast tent, open adjacent to the Red White and Brew Beer Tent in the Downtown Farmington Center parking lot. Hours are: July 14, 5 p.m.-11 p.m., July 15, 1 p.m.-11 p.m., July 16, 12 p.m.-11 p.m., and July 17, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.

Learn more about this and other Greater Farmington Founders Festival activities at or on Facebook.

Farmington Civic shows free classic movie serial

The Farmington Civic Theater will take audiences back in time this week, with a free showing of a movie serial popular in the 1940s.

Audiences will see the first chapter of the 1942 Republic Pictures movie serial “Spy Smasher” at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on July 15. “America Beware” runs 29 minutes. According to a press release, if the showing is well­ received, there will be others in the future.

Spy Smasher
The Farmington Civic Theater showed movie serials that were popular in the 1940s.

Popular at movie theaters into the early 1950s, serials consisted of weekly chapters that usually ended in a cliffhanger, which would encourage movie­-goers to return the next week. Republic Pictures obtained the rights to Spy Smasher and other popular comic book characters, like Dick Tracy and Captain America. Alan Armstrong, aka “Spy Smasher”, battles a Nazi villain known as “The Mask”, who heads a gang of saboteurs determined to spread destruction across America.

The Farmington Civic Theater is located at 33332 Grand River Avenue in downtown Farmington, just east of Farmington Road. Learn more at or on Facebook.