Commercial-News, Penny Saver, & Sturgis Sentinel News

‘Sturgis Fest’ week ready to roll

Doug VanMeter
Mary Kay Schultz
12th ‘Sturgis Fest’ week ready to roll. Keith James/Indigo Web Services via Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce

By Dennis Volkert

“Sturgis Fest” takes place June 18-22.
Theme for this year’s festival is “Disney Days.”
Festival week opens with the kick-off dinner at Sturges-Young Center for the Arts. This year’s Citizens of the Year, Mary Kay Schultz and Doug VanMeter, will received formal recognition.
Kari Hatt, executive director at Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce, highlighted some of the festival’s features.
The Disney theme arose because 2023 was the 100th anniversary of Sturgis chamber of commerce.
“As Sturgis Fest 2023 came to a close, we began to discuss themes for the next year,” Hatt said. “Dianna Kuwamato made the comment that it also was Walt Disney’s 100th anniversary. I thought, wow! That would have been fun to know going into last year. Maybe we could have had a Disney theme for our 100th as well.”
Ryan Conrod suggested using it as the 2024 theme.
“I knew Disney was strict with using any of their movies or characters, so I didn’t want to overstep and say yes right away,” Hatt said. “Ryan reached out to a contact at Disney to find out what the process was. There are definitely some rules we have to follow, but for the most part, we got the green light.”
This year’s festival lineup includes numerous returning attractions, including “Bike Night,” a classic-car cruise-in, “Electric Parade” and a fireworks display as the finale.
Two notable revisions for ’24: “Family Night” moves to the high school, after taking place downtown last season; and “Wine Night” has been replaced with “Gran Baile.”
“This new event helps to create a more diverse festival and I hope it brings everyone together to enjoy a night of dancing and local entertainment,” Hatt said.
The annual parade is among the festival’s most popular attractions, and Hatt is excited to see it unfold.
“We have just as many entries, if not more, than we did last year,” she said. “With it being a Disney Days theme, I can’t wait to see everyone’s creativity for their floats. I know the parade is a fan favorite of the community, and our local participants are putting in a lot of hard work to make their floats stand out.”
Grand marshal for the parade is Stacey Worthington, a Sturgis native who has spent most of the past decade portraying a Disney Princess.
“Although her Disney contract does not allow her to wear a princess dress for events like this, we are still very excited to have her as part of our festival this year,” Hatt said.
Worthington will hold a meet-and-greet in partnership with Sturgis District Library at Sturges-Young Center for the Arts, prior to the parade.
“She will be talking about her experience as a ‘princess’ and how to follow your dreams,” Hatt said.
This is the 12th year for Sturgis Fest. It was canceled in 2020, due to the pandemic.
Its roots are in “Michigan Week,” which began in 1953 and continued through 2009. In between, it became “Dam Days” for two seasons.
Here is a day-by-day roundup of major attractions and activities.
June 18: Kick-off dinner, 6 p.m., Sturges-Young Center for the Arts. Citizens of the Year, Mary Kay Schultz and Doug VanMeter, will be honored. Featured is keynote speaker Christopher W. Tremblay, adjunct instructor at Western Michigan University.
June 19: “Family Night,” 4-6 p.m., Sturgis High School. Features vintage baseball, 6 p.m., Sturgis Biscuits vs. Elkhart County Railroaders. Carnival-style rides and game and outdoor movie, “Zootopia,” which begins around 8 p.m. At Free Church Park, “Gran Baile,” 6-9 p.m., with DJ Venom and live music by Sereto Musical, beer garden featuring Micheladas.
June 20: “Bike Night,” 5-10 p.m., downtown. Live music by HippoSonics and Sweet Johnny Knox. Also features sidewalk sales noon-9 p.m., and cornhole.
June 21: Hispanic Heritage celebration begins at 4 p.m., live music by Los Electro and Son de Mexico Mariachi. Classic car cruise-in, 5-8 p.m. “Electric Night Parade,” on U.S. 12 from Lakeview Avenue to Surprise Avenue. Also features sidewalk sales noon-9 p.m.
June 22: “Sports Day,” featuring 3-on-3 basketball tournament, 9 a.m., Sturgis High School, sign-in 8 a.m. Proceeds go to Sturgis basketball programs and Burr Oak boys’ basketball. American Volksporting Association Sanctioned Volksmarch, in honor of sister city Wiesloch, Germany. Dave Locey Youth Triathlon. Fireworks at dusk, Kirsch Municipal Airport.
Additional events the weekend prior.
“The Imagination of History,” June 14-16 at Sturges-Young Center for the Arts.
Dave Locey Triathlon, 9 a.m. June 15, Sturgis High School.
Full schedule and additional details at

Citizens of the Year

Brief bio of the 2024 award recipients.
Mary Kay Schultz is a 1978 alumna of Sturgis High School. She attended Central Michigan University, graduating in 1982, then returned to Sturgis, where she has resided here since. She worked for 37 years for Sturgis Hospital, retiring as vice president of human resources in 2019. Schultz has involvement in numerous community organizations and service clubs.
Doug VanMeter is a life-long resident of Sturgis, an alumnus of Sturgis High School class of 1955. He served on the chain gang for SHS football for more than 30 years. In 2017, he was inducted into the high school’s Hall of Fame. He worked as an engineer at Ross Labs/Abbott Nutrition for 30 years, retiring in 1999. VanMeter has extensive involvement in the faith community and service organizations.

Leave a Reply