Linden — Thousands of people walked around downtown Linden from July 16-18 to celebrate River Fest and the city’s 150th birthday.
The 2020 River Fest was canceled due to the pandemic, and this year’s River Fest and birthday celebration was one of the biggest events in the area in 16 months.
Brad Jacob, chairperson of Keepers of the Shiawassee, estimates approximately 4,000 people attended. It was put on by Linden, Keepers of the Shiawassee and Happening in Linden. In 2019, River Fest was in Fenton. It’s been a few years since it took place in Linden.
“River Fest was a wonderful success this year. Everything went really well. Thanks to the efforts of the Happening in Linden committee, the city of Linden, the Keepers of the Shiawassee, and so many local civic groups, businesses and individuals. The real success was seeing so many smiling faces all weekend,” he said.
The car cruise at Symphony in Linden, live music at the gazebo, and the beer barn at the VFW Hall started the festivities on Friday, and Saturday was the Linden Gazebo dedication and plaque dedication for the city’s sesquicentennial from the Historical Society of Michigan. The day ended with fireworks. Vendors and food trucks were there the entire weekend.
Mayor Danielle Cusson said, “I was very pleased with how the weekend turned out and pleasantly surprised with the number of people who came out for the festivities. I received so much positive feedback. I am very proud to be the mayor of this
amazing city. Our city staff and volunteers put so much time into this event and the city of Linden looked great.”
The Keepers of the Shiawassee put on the annual cardboard regatta, and 19 children participated. Kids made tie dye shirts at the Linden Presbyterian Church and enjoyed the kids zone at Eagles Wooden Park.
“My personal favorite was the bands showing off the great talent from the area, but it was terrific to see a record number of cardboard canoes, 19 all together. It’s so much fun watching the kids put their boats to the test,” Jacob said. “This year was a challenge, going from what has been a one-day to a three-day event. But, it was well worth the extra work to see everyone out enjoying themselves after this last year. The community really needed this opportunity to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Linden.”
The Linden Hotel held a pancake breakfast Sunday and had a Linden sandcastle in front of the restaurant. Sunday also was the Keepers of the Shiawassee Flotilla at the Mill Pond. Approximately 50 kayakers participated.
Gary Messenger, member of the Keepers, said it was a “great” turnout.
“It felt great to get back out to do stuff again with the public. It was great seeing people out and enjoying themselves. Because 2020, nothing went on. 2021 is a new start,” he said.
Sue Turpen, board member of Happening in Linden, said they were very happy with the outcome and showcasing Linden.
“The event was very well attended. The activities on the river were a great success. My favorite was the dedication of the new Kimble-Sharp Gazebo as we kicked off the celebration of 150 years of Linden. Such a beautiful setting on the banks of the Shiawassee River. It was and is worthy of a Hallmark card,” she said, adding that the fireworks over the Mill Pond were spectacular. “It could not have been better.”
Peter Maas, president of the Linden Mills Historical Society, said hundreds of people came through the Linden Mills Historical Museum over the weekend.
“It’s so wonderful to see the people of Linden out and about having fun,” he said. “It’s been a rewarding thing for us. It’s turning out to be a really really successful thing. It shows our resilience as a community, the way they work together, the way they have each other’s backs. Linden has recovered from the big fire, it’s recovered from COVID.”
Police Chief Scott Sutter said the event went well and there were no incidents.