The annual island celebration runs from June 2nd to 4th
If the 2017 IslandFest schedule is any indication, Friday, June 2nd through Sunday, June 4th promises to be a weekend without boredom. The festival’s carnival alone boasts of 18 rides, and the activity lineup includes entertainment as diverse as Farmer John, belly dancers, a classic car show, a variety of bands, and even the opportunity to drive exotic cars, such as a Porsche or Lamborghini courtesy of Fastrak Exotics. For the youth in particular, IslandFest’s offerings are equally impressive. “We have not just bouncy houses but rock climbing walls, zip lines, an obstacle course, and a kids’ mechanical bull,” says festival chairman Chad Novak. To fit everything in, the festival is open earlier and will close later than in previous years.
Of course, IslandFest’s biggest attraction is the fireworks show, a Friday night phenomenon that brings the biggest annual pyrotechnic show to the region. Those interested in securing the best seats can purchase VIP tickets, which include not only special seating but food and beverages for the show as well. Tickets are available on the festival’s website, www.islandfestgrosseile.com
Other favorite activities include helicopter rides offered by Maxflight Helicopter Services. A commercial helicopter company that provides helicopter training, commercial photography work, and pipeline surveys, Maxflight also provides entertainment at festivals. “You get a view from 1,500 feet,” says Ken Tarter, owner and CEO of Maxflight. At IslandFest, that view includes Canadian windmills, downtown Detroit, Grosse Ile, Trenton, and Wyandotte.
Running simultaneously with IslandFest is the Island Cup, a three-day soccer tournament hosted by the Grosse Ile Soccer Association (GISA) across from the airport. Kevin Naso, who serves as GISA’s president, estimates that between 5,000 and 6,000 attend the tournament each year. Drawing players ages six to seventeen from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and even Canada, the Island Cup will host over 100 club soccer teams.
Soccer’s recent popularity on Grosse Ile deserves some credit for the Island Cup crowds. Just six years ago, GISA had two travel teams. Today, that number has grown past 20. “Between two programs [a travel program and a rec program], we have over 600 kids playing soccer on an island of 9,000 people,” Naso explains.
The thousands of Island Cup attendees naturally meander to the festivities at IslandFest, and as the tournament popularity grows, so does IslandFest’s schedule.
The IslandFest itself is free, while specialty events are available for a fee. For pricing information or to view the full schedule, updated regularly, visit islandfestgrosseile.com