Every year during the second weekend of August, South Haven is filled with visitors for the National Blueberry Festival. This year will be the South Haven Blueberry Festival’s 55th year, making it one of the oldest fruit festivals in the country. The weekend is packed with events, activities and, of course, plenty of mouthwatering blueberries from this year’s harvest. Use our guide to find out more about things to do at the festival for all ages.
About the festival
The National Blueberry Festival started in 1963 by South Haven locals primarily as a blueberry baking and recipe competition. The goal of the festival is to celebrate the blueberry harvest and the economic importance of agriculture to the area. Believe it or not, South Haven is the world leader for highbush blueberry production. Over the years, the festival grew to add on new events each year, while still preserving its original traditions, like the National Blueberry Festival parade. The blueberries for the festival are provided by several local blueberry farms.
Photo: Andy Wakeman
Festival Events and Activities
The South Haven Blueberry Festival packs in a weekend full of family-friendly events. The festival starts on Thursday, August 9 and continues through the afternoon on Sunday, August 12. Starting on Friday at 10 a.m., you can stop by the blueberry festival headquarters for information and maps. T-shirt tents are open daily at Riverfront Park from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. as well as the beer and wine tent from 4-10 p.m. During each day of the festival, you’ll find kids’ activities at the Riverfront Park Kid Zone, the Bobby Walker Baseball Tournament at Elkenburg Park, and live music each night at the Riverfront Main Stage. There’s also a complimentary shuttle that can take you from off-site parking locations to the festival events until 10 p.m. each day.
Start off your blueberry festival adventure by stopping by Farm Day at Riverfront Park. Farm Day is a new event this year where you can visit local blueberry farmers’ booths, pick blueberries and learn more about the industry. Continue your day at Riverfront Park where the opening ceremony and youth pageant begins at 5 p.m. From 5 -7 p.m. at the Huron Street Pavilion, join in on the blueberry pie and ice cream social and stick around to toast to the blueberry harvest at 6 p.m.
The South Haven Blueberry Festival kicks off on Friday with the open golf tournament at Beeches Golf Club at 9 a.m. and the AAUW used book sale at First Congregational Church from 9-5 p.m. and again on Saturday from 9-2 p.m. The Blueberry Central Market is open from 10-5 p.m. and is one of the biggest attractions at the festival. You can shop for blueberries and blueberry products from local vendors while you listen to live music. Take the kids to Meijer Kids Day at Riverfront Park from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. for educational kids’ activities. Other events include a blueberry-themed paint and sip at Tipsy Brush Studio, a Blueberry Bark-B-Que benefiting Al-Van Humane Society, and a VIP event at Asylum Inn.
Saturday’s events kick-off with the Blueberry Festival 5k Run/Walk and the Kiwanis Blueberry Pancake Breakfast at Huron Street Pavilion both starting at 8 a.m. At 11 a.m., the big event of the festival, the DeGrandchamp Farms National Blueberry Festival Parade, winds through Huron Street. You can peruse both the Blueberry Central Market at Huron Street Pavilion or the Blueberry Festival Craft Fair at Stanley Johnson Park from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Head to Riverfront Park at 2 p.m. to watch or participate in the kids’ blueberry pie eating contest or the adult contest at 3:30 p.m. At 4 p.m., grab dinner with the family at the popular Steelheaders’ Fish Boil at Huron Street Pavilion before you spend the night watching live music. You can also participate in the kids’ soccer clinic, the Ronald McDonald Magic Show, a paint and sip at Tipsy Brush Studios, and a blueberry wine tasting at Channel Wine Bar.
Photo: Dylan Nelson
The festival wraps up on Sunday afternoon. Start your day at the Rotary Club pancake breakfast at the South Haven Regional Airport from 7 a.m. – noon while you watch the airport fly-in and classic car show. You can also catch the Kiwanis blueberry pancake breakfast again at Huron Street Pavilion. Both the Blueberry Central Market and the craft fair will be running again on Sunday to get your last-minute blueberry items and gifts. At North Beach, watch or participate in the sand sculpture contest starting at 9 a.m. Make your way to Water Street at 10 a.m. for the DeBest Lawn Tractor Pull. End your time at the festival with the 55th festival birthday party from 12-2 p.m. at Riverfront Park followed by an outdoor concert.
The South Haven Blueberry Festival is truly a one-of-a-kind event that our area is so proud to put together each year. Make it a family tradition to visit the festival each year to taste delicious blueberries and participate in community events.