By Jason Wesseldyk
The Island City Festival is back in full force.
After being cancelled due to COVID in 2020 followed by one-day events the past two years, the festival returns as a multi-day event for 2023.
The festivities kicked off today (Thursday, June 8) and will last until Saturday, June 10.
The Island City Festival committee officially announced the dates for this year’s event on a social media post at the end of March. Since then, the committee has been releasing updates to keep the public informed.
Carnival rides—on hiatus since 2019—are back at the site of the former paper mill all three days, with JBS serving as the sponsor.
A premium parking lot has been added adjacent to the rides for those who are willing to play a little extra from the added convenience. The parking lot is being run by local charities and school groups, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to serve those groups.
One-day passes for the carnival rides cost $30 on site, or they can be purchased online at islandcityfest.org.
The festival’s grand opening is slated for 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, with vendors—including arts and crafts—remaining open until 7 p.m. the carnival rides will go until 10 p.m.
Highlights for Friday, June 9, include an ice cream social hosted by Sponsor of the Day Majestic Financial from 12 to 4 p.m. Festival goers can enjoy free ice cream from the Sweet Caroline Ice Cream truck, which will be located at 220 S. Main St.
Vendors and rides again open at 2 p.m., with vendors closing at 7 p.m. and the carnival closing at 10 p.m.
Also on Friday, a free outdoor movie double feature will be shown: Finding Nemo will play at 7 p.m., followed immediately by Jaws at 8:40 p.m.
Saturday events include: car show and DCS Power Challenge at 9 a.m.; scavenger hunt at 11 a.m.; Dice Throne Tournament at 1 p.m.; cornhole tournament at 2 p.m.; and hot wing challenge at 4 p.m.
Vendors close at either 5 p.m. or 7 p.m., with the carnival again running until 10 p.m.
Food trucks that will be part of the festival include: Tacon Madre; Chick-fil-A Grand Rapids South; Kona Ice of West Kalamazoo; Ibison Concessions & Catering by Festival Foods; Big Moe’s BBQ Sauce and Catering; and Pita on the Pier.