The leadership behind the IslandFest deserves credit for turning a community festival into a favorite southeast Michigan ritual
What started in 1984 as the island’s Azalea Festival has grown to become Grosse Ile’s most popular event of the year: IslandFest, the three-day festival of fun that attracts over 20,000 people each June. Since its days as the Azalea Festival, IslandFest has moved from Westcroft Garden to Macomb Street in downtown Grosse Ile until finally, in 1999, it landed at the Grosse Ile Municipal Airport to accommodate the vendors, artists, beverage tents, and of course, the attendees that flock to it every year.
The leadership behind the event deserves the credit for turning a community festival into a favorite southeast Michigan ritual. In recent years the responsibility for the festival has fallen on Chad Novak, who served on the festival commission for the past seven years, the last five of which he has worked as the chairman. “I think it’s a great community event,” Chad says about the festival’s success. “It brings all the nonprofits and exhibitors together. It’s one of the biggest fundraiser of the year for nonprofits.” A list of nonprofits that benefit from the festival can be found on the IslandFest website, www.islandfestgrosseile.com
Chad’s involvement in the festival leadership led to significant changes. From flooding the space with foliage to seeking out top-notch entertainment and drastically increasing the number of fireworks at the Friday night show, Chad helped bring a fresher vibe to the 33-year-old event. Every year under Chad’s leadership, the festival has become cleaner, brighter, and more well-attended. That’s important because, as Chad explains, “[IslandFest] benefits not just Grosse Ile but the surrounding communities.”
Chad continues, “It’s important to have a high-end, safe, family-friendly community event. It’s such a safe environment that mom and dad can enjoy an adult beverage and enjoy headlining bands while the kids are over at the midway carnival having the time of their lives.”
To learn more about IslandFest, taking place at the Grosse Ile Municipal Airport from June 2-4, visit www.islandfestgrosseile.comT
William Faulkner said it best: “A life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before.”