Back in 1991 a group of residents in Mayville decided we needed a festival. A couple of ideas were tossed around and a sunflower theme was chosen. Just outside of town on Saginaw Road was the Kukulski Farm and the home of Michigan Bird Feed Company. Those fields of sunflowers are the reason we are now going into our 29th year celebrating the Michigan Mayville Sunflower Festival. What started out as a small summer time event has grown over the years to become one of the Thumb’s largest festivals.
Many events have been added over the years including the men’s slow pitch softball tournament, the bump & run derby at Ohmer Park, the Museum pancake breakfast, the Fireman’s waterball contest, car shows, craft show, inflatables for the kids, garage sales, worship services, concerts and the grand parade followed by the best firework display in the Thumb. One of the highlights of the festival is the “Bump and Run Derby”. It started in 2005 by the Mayville Chamber of Commerce as a “demolition derby” and has evolved into one of the best events of the festivals and is attended by 800 to 1,000 people.
Funding for the festival is all done through donations and sponsorships from local businesses and a raffle conducted each year. The last few years the raffle was for a golf cart, which anyone would enjoy if they are the lucky winner. Voting for cutest baby, best pet and festival prince and princess is done by coins at the Wingert’s Food Center that also raises money to support the festival. Special community honors are bestowed to our Grand Marshall, selected by the committee and our Citizen of the Year nominated by the community. High school students create our t-shirt design incorporating our yearly theme, along with the cancellation stamp used each year by the post office during festival weekend.
A year of planning goes into each festival. Shortly after the July festival, volunteers meet to wrap up that year and start planning for the next. It takes a lot of organization and team work to bring the festival altogether. The community of Mayville is thankful that we have this kind of commitment and can enjoy the hard work of all that give their time to make this festival possible. On the following page is a schedule of events from the first Mayville Sunflower Festival in 1991.
For more information on Mayville history please go to mayvillemuseum.weebly.com