“I told the committee for the Feast of the Strawberry Moon we are literally and figuratively missing the boat here,” retired French teacher Robert Miller said. “The fur traders came here by canoe — we’ve got one. Let’s use it to lead a modern brigade of canoeists and kayakers to the Feast via the river.”
Miller and retired physical education teacher John Paradise will lead a group of paddlers down the Grand River on both mornings of the history festival.
Kayakers and canoers are invited to meet at the Odawa/Battlepoint Launch in Grand Haven Township. The group will depart from there at 10 a.m. for a trip down the Grand River to Harbor Island.
Anyone interested in participating in the event is asked to contact Miller at 616-777-4012.
“For people who’ve never been to one, it is a very interesting experience,” he said of the paddling trip.
Miller said the river trip should take about three hours. Paddlers are expected to arrive at Harbor Island at about 1 p.m.
“That seems to be a prime time when a lot of people are around,” Miller said.
Paul Tremblay, 80, will portray Antoine Laumet dit de Lamothe Cadillac on the canoe trip. The Canadian resident has portrayed the French explorer for the past 14 years.
“I‘ve asked him to participate by paddling down the river in the big canoe,” Miller said.
Meanwhile, organizers are putting the finishing touches on the annual Feast at Harbor Island.
“Everything is right on track,” said Barb Carlson of the Tri-Cities Historical Museum, which has staged the festival for the past 13 years. “I am excited about a lot of the things we have.”
Carlson said there are about 200 re-enactors who are signed up to participate in this year’s festival.
“The camp is going to be full,” she said.
Carlson also noted that the 18th-century era food is going to be something people should keep their eyes and noses on. It includes asparagus spears, strawberry shortcake and other cuisine from the period.
“The food is going to be amazing,” Carlson said. “The food is a lot more seasonal.”
In addition, the Harbor Humane Society will be selling hotdogs and bratwurst, and there will be a tavern serving beer.
The festival is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 per person, or $15 for a family. Parking on the island is free.