Get ready for blue tongues, fingers, and smiles at the annual Michigan Blueberry Festival! This popular summertime event celebrates one of the state’s most beloved fruits, the blueberry.
For over 50 years, the family-friendly festival has been held in South Haven honoring everything blueberry while offering food, fun and entertainment for all ages. Read on to learn about what you can expect at Michigan Blueberry Festival.
What is Michigan Blueberry Festival?
Blueberry Festival is hosted by The South Haven Rotary Club, happening every August during blueberry harvest season. The multi-day event features activities and attractions revolving around blueberries, spanning several blocks in downtown South Haven and along the Black River.
You’ll find blueberry pie eating contests, blueberry-themed arts and crafts, live music performances, a blueberry parade, kids activities, food vendors dishing up blueberry treats, and more blue fun!
Local blueberry farmers are also present selling fresh-picked blueberries as well as u-pick opportunities.
It’s the perfect time to enjoy the height of Michigan blueberry season while partaking in small town festivities. The family-oriented celebration aims to promote blueberries, support the local economy and create community. And best of all, admission to the festival is free, making for budget-friendly fun.
History of the Blueberry Festival
The first festival was held in 1971 in honor of the burgeoning blueberry industry in the South Haven area. Blueberry farming has been a major part of the local agriculture since the early 1900s.
By the 1960s, 95% of the nation’s cultivated blueberries came from Southwest Michigan, earning it the title “Blueberry Capital of the World.” The festival allowed the hardworking farmers to showcase their crops and the community to celebrate the berry’s economic impact.
Over 50 years later, the Blueberry Festival has grown into a beloved summer highlight for locals and visitors looking to experience South Haven’s small town charm against a backdrop of lush blueberry fields.
Top Things to See and Do
The Blueberry Festival offers three days of activities for all ages focused, naturally, on Michigan’s finest fruit. Here are some of the sweet highlights you can look forward to.
Blueberry Indulgence Eating Contests
Test your competitive eating skills or just cheer others on during fun blueberry food eating contests. See who can gobble the most blueberry pie, cram the most blueberry muffins in their mouth, or slurp blueberry soup fastest. Prizes are awarded to contest champions.
Blueberry Treats and Farmer’s Market
Of course, you’ll find rows of vendors serving up every kind of blueberry treat imaginable – pies, pastries, jams, salsas, sauces, ice cream and more. Plus, blueberries galore! Stock up on flats of fresh-picked local berries straight from the source. The farmer’s market also has fruits and veggies, artisan foods, plants, and crafts for sale.
On Saturday morning, crowds line up along the harbor to watch the lively Blueberry Parade. Floats decorated with blueberries, marching bands, giant balloons, dancers, vintage vehicles and local organizations march down the street tossing candy. Grab a spot early for optimal viewing.
Arts and Crafts Show
Browse over 100 artisan and crafter booths set up downtown to shop for jewelry, home decor, original art, wood carvings, pottery and more one-of-a-kind items. Watch weavers, carvers and glass blowers create their wares using traditional techniques.
Pick up a bingo-style scavenger hunt card and explore festival activities to complete tasks and fill your card. Completed cards can be redeemed for prizes like blueberry festival t-shirts and gift baskets. A fun way to encourage kids to experience all the festival offers!
Where to Stay in South Haven for the Festival
As one of the area’s most popular summer events, hotels fill up fast during Blueberry Festival weekend. If you’re looking for accommodations, book your South Haven lodging early.
Here are some highly-rated hotel and vacation rental options close to the festival grounds.
- Holiday Inn Express: Walking distance to festival entrance
- Hampton Inn: Indoor pool and free breakfast
- Comfort Inn: Pet friendly and complimentary airport shuttle
- North Shore Inn: Rooms with balconies and harbor views
- Beachfront cottages and condos: Best sunset views!
- Cozy downtown apartments: Step right into festivals
- Lake House rentals: Relax along the shore
- Blue Star Loft: Charming flat above shops
- Harbor House: Harborfront luxury with boat dock
- Van Buren State Park: Tent and RV sites near South Haven
- South Beach Campground: Closest sites on the lakeshore
- Woodman’s Lake Campground: Pool, trails and activities
How to Get the Most Out of Blueberry Festival Weekend
To make the most of Michigan’s premier blueberry celebration, be sure to:
- Check the festival schedule in advance and coordinate your plans, especially for key events like the Blueberry Parade.
- Come hungry! Budget plenty of funds not just for fair food but to purchase blueberries, jams, baked goods, and other edible souvenirs.
- Come early each day to beat crowds. Take advantage of morning hours for shorter lines.
- Browse the arts and craft vendors alongside the farmers market to find one-of-a-kind handmade gifts and art.
- Let kids run free enjoying interactive activities like tractor rides, inflatables, pie eating contests and jugglers.
- Stake out a good spot for the Blueberry Parade if you want to be curbside. Bring a blanket and portable chairs.
- Stay hydrated and seek shade or AC breaks on hot days.
- Make time for photo ops with mascots, pirates, characters in costume.
- Talk to the farmers and growers from nearby orchards and farms about their operations.
- Wear clothes you don’t mind getting messy! Kids especially will be covered in blueberry juice.
- Check out weekend packages at local hotels that bundle tickets for carnival rides and other add-ons.
- Swing by the Beers, Wines and Spirits tent for tastes of Michigan-made beverages if you’re over 21.
Where to Pick Your Own Blueberries
In addition to devouring blueberry goodies at the festival, visitors flock to Southwest Michigan during blueberry season for u-pick opportunities at local farms.
You can pick buckets of plump, juicy berries straight from the bush and take home for baking, smoothies, jam, and cobblers.
Here are some top u-pick blueberry farms near South Haven to visit during festival weekend:
- Chapel’s Blueberries: Offers u-pick and pre-picked blueberries at their 180 acre blueberry farm just 5 minutes from downtown South Haven.
- Krueger’s Family Orchards: Their 140 acre farm has been growing blueberries for over 75 years!
- DeGrandchamp Farms: Offers u-pick fruits June through September, including blueberries, peaches, apples, pears and pumpkins.
- Ellis Farm Market: Was one of the first to commercially grow blueberries in Michigan over 100 years ago.
Michigan Blueberry Festival is a beloved tradition providing old-fashioned family fun with a focus, naturally, on Michigan’s most iconic crop. For over 50 years, the free public event has promoted community, blueberry farming and summer charm in South Haven.
You’ll find nonstop activities from parades, contests and crafts to live music, carnival rides and blueberry treats galore. It’s the perfect opportunity to stock up on fresh berries straight from local farms, learn about harvesting, and come together to celebrate the season.