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The 'Feast' lives on

Alex Doty • Nov 25, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Uncertainty surrounded the future of the Feast of the Strawberry Moon festival earlier this year, but the historical re-enactment event will continue.

The newly formed West Michigan Historical Alliance has announced that it will be the new host of the annual event on Harbor Island, taking over for the Tri-Cities Historical Museum, which announced earlier this year that it would no longer run it.

“We’ve been working on this for a while, so to see it all come together will be great,” WMHA Executive Director Chris Hornby said.

The alliance is a non-profit organization with a mission to “continually expand and deepen our educational events and workshops that explore the middle ground world that evolved between Europeans and Native Americans in the Great Lakes region during the pre-1800 fur trade era.”

According to Hornby, the group was formed this past summer in response to the museum’s announcement that it would no longer host the Feast — an event that organizers say brings in about 250 re-enactors, entertainers, demonstrators and period vendors to provide the experience of the 18th century to thousands of public visitors each June.

The organization submitted a proposal to the museum after it issued a request for proposals in search of organizations and groups that might be interested in taking over the event. 

“The WMHA is very excited and grateful for the opportunity to continue the event,” Hornby said. “It is our goal to build on what the museum has already done and bring new life into the event.”

A two-day event, the Feast explores the history of the Native American culture, the French exploration period, the English colonization and American unification of West Michigan. The event includes period crafts and demonstrations that take place within the camp, set up on Harbor Island.

Even though the group has been awarded the festival, organizers say their work is far from over. Hornby said they invite all members of the community to get involved with the Feast of the Strawberry Moon, either via volunteer time or through donations.

“We understand that not everyone has the time to volunteer — however, monetary donations are just as important,” she said. “Unfortunately, there are expenses that are incurred from running a great community event like the Feast, and community generosity is what makes this all possible.”

Anyone interested in volunteering or making a financial contribution to the event is asked to contact Hornby at hornbychrisgds@gmail.com.

The 2017 Feast of the Strawberry Moon is slated to take place June 10-11.

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