River Days Returns to Midland for ….

A yearly summer tradition for many local families returns to Midland from August 4-7. River Days, a long-running festival, invites the community to enjoy free fun, entertainment, hot air balloons, food and drinks, fireworks and more.

Hosted by the Midland Area Community Foundation for over 30 years, Youth Impact coordinator and Midland Area River Days Festival organizer, Sara JacobsCarter, says the event’s mission and the organization’s mission align, “The Midland Area Community Foundation exists to cultivate the power of giving within our community. We support long term transformation and help ensure all residents thrive.” 
The annual festival surrounds Midland's Tridge, August 4-7.
JacobsCarter adds  this year’s event includes the Midland Balloon Fest, kicking off the festival. “We are starting with Main Street Hot Air Balloon Glow downtown on Thursday night, Aug. 4,” she says. “We also have a silent dance party near the Tridge and the old Farmer’s Market pavilion.”

Friday morning kicks off bright and early at 6:30 a.m. for a competitive hot air balloon flight. Live music on the main stage will be provided that evening by Miranda & The M80s, Moonshot, and Stone Street Revival, followed by an outdoor showing of the movie, “Inside Out.” 

Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the kids zone at Chippewassee Park will have 14 different charitable organizations hosting activities and giveaways for families.There will also be yoga, zumba, Jedi Padawan training, kayaking, yard games, 3D climbing wall, cornhole and more. 

New this year is a competitive hot dog eating contest hosted by vendor, Nate's Cart, at noon on Saturday. Prizes will be awarded to kids and adults for the most amount of hot dogs eaten in 10 minutes.

Live music will be provided by Jolie Wing, Levi Ebnit, Protea, and Denise Davis & The Motor City Sensations on Saturday night.

Fireworks over the Tridge in Midland during the River Days Festival.
Weather-permitting, there will be balloon launches on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., followed by balloon glows at dusk. The Esther Gerstacker Fireworks Show starts at 9:45 p.m. in St. Charles Park on Saturday night. The event wraps up with a 6:30 a.m. competitive hot air balloon flight on Sunday morning. The full schedule can be found here. 

Sara JacobsCarter says the event is more focused than ever to provide residents with access to free, fun activities including face painting, an arts tent, ziplining, rock climbing, axe throwing, caricatures, henna tattoos, and more. “All of those organizations and businesses are giving at least two hours of free services,” she says. “We want to make sure that every family who comes can get the full experience of River Days and enjoy everything.”
A craft beer and wine tent will be available Friday and Saturday nights.
The Midland Rotary Clubs will serve cheeseburgers on Friday night, and beer and wine both nights while the Midland Lions Club will hold their annual chicken dinner on Saturday. There will also be other food vendors at the festival.

“We invest quite a bit of our own funds, and we work with sponsors from Midland and beyond. We can’t do it without our friends and neighbors. It’s a high priority to us that everybody in Midland can come out and enjoy it,” JacobsCarter says. “I want it to be everybody’s favorite weekend in Midland.”


 

Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at spohn9@gmail.com.