CEDAR SPRINGS, MI – In the north part of Kent County lies Cedar Springs with a population of less than four thousand. One of the biggest events the city has always been known for, and to some degree actually defines the city, is the Red Flannel Festival. When Cedar Springs was established in the 1850s, it had plenty of cedar trees and a freshwater spring. It quickly became known for timbering.
“The lumberjacks came and cut-down a lot of cedar trees for lumber and they wore red flannels. That’s how and why we started producing red flannels to clothe and outfit the lumberjacks, ” says Red Flannel festival court girl Kellie Spahr. The Red Flannel Festival is the 15th oldest festival in Michigan. It’s always the first Saturday in October, and was started way back in 1939.
The festival has even attracted the attention of celebrities like Sammy Davis Jr., ordering red flannels for 13 of his closest celebrity friends in 1986. There are several events that unfold during Red Flannel week, but one of the highlights seem to be the annual parade. An antique fire truck is usually the last vehicle in the parade line-up, before a “sea of red” appears behind the truck as everyone wearing red falls-in being the truck on the street as the parade ends.
The Red Flannel Festival also provides scholarships for three girls on the queen’s court each year. According to Cindy Patin, a volunteer for Red Flannel, “all of the money donated goes to them. There’s no administrative fees, so we’ve been able to keep a wonderful thing that started many years ago, not just the festival itself, but the scholarship fund too going for them and their future.”
Much more information about the annual Red Flannel Festival in Cedar Springs can be found here.