Memorial Weekend Festival in Newaygo, Michigan

by Laurie Rappeport

Many towns and cities across the United States organize Memorial Day events during the last weekend of May. These memorial events commemorate the men and women of America's Armed Forces who gave their lives in service to their country. Each year the residents and municipal officials in Newaygo, Michigan organize meaningful Memorial Day festivities which unite the town's residents and draws visitors.

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Memorial Day

In 1868, the National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, John Logan, officially inaugurated Memorial Day to commemorate both Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War. Memorial Day gained acceptance, state by state, and, following World War I, included the commemoration of American servicepeople who had died fighting in any American conflict. Memorial Day falls on the last Monday of May. The town of Newaygo commemorates the day with festivities and community programs.

Newaygo

Newaygo, a town in Western Michigan, was a logging town in the 1800s but moved towards industrialization in the early 1900s with the introduction of the Gerber Baby Food plant in the town. Lakes, rivers and forests surround Newaygo, which draws visitors to the region by holding festivals throughout the year. In addition to the Memorial Day Festival, Newaygo sponsors a National Baby Food Festival in July and the Newaygo Logging Festival in early September of each year.

Memorial Day Weekend

The Newaygo Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the Memorial Day festivities in Newaygo. The festival takes place at Brooks Park in downtown Newaygo. Festivities include an arts and crafts sale with artisans and craftspeople who come to Newaygo to display their crafts. Visitors can attend the chicken barbeque, held in the park on Sunday. As of the date of publication, other events include a pie sale at the Newaygo County Museum and a used book sale sponsored by the Friends of the Newaygo Library. The Women's Expo markets items from over 30 vendors with the proceeds donated to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Other Newaygo Sites

If you decide to visit Newaygo, you have many options for interesting area activities. The Muskegon River and Hardy Pond offer great year-round fishing. Hikers can trek the Camp Newaygo Wetland Trail or the North Country National Scenic Trail. The Newaygo County Museum features exhibits that depict the history of the region. The Dogwood Performing Arts Center offers music and theatrical performances. The Manistee National Forest has great hiking trails and horseback riding stables for warm-weather visitors and cross-country ski trails for winter visitors. People who visit Newaygo in the winter can go sledding in Newaygo's Sports Park or Branstrom Park and enjoy snowmobiling, snowboarding and other winter sports throughout the Newaygo area.

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