September 22, 2014

Boats to light up river during Venetian Festival

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Au GRES — Decorated boats will coast down the Au Gres River and rock music will fill the air during the Venetian Festival in Au Gres Aug. 2.

Mike Horton, the festival’s organizer, said the event runs from 6-11 p.m. and is free to attend, but festival volunteers will seek out donations during the event.

“It’s a free event for everyone, but we are asking for donations,” he said. “All of the donations are going in full to the Michigan Special Olympics.”

The Venetian Festival will be held at the Au Gres state docks, and Omer City Limits is set to play starting at 6 p.m., Horton said. Later in the evening, boats registered to participate in the boat parade will take off down the river, he said.

“The boat parade will be kicking off around 9:30 p.m.,” he said. “We’ll be going down to the mouth of the Au Gres River and then coming back.”

Boat registration is $50, with registration fees going toward the Special Olympics of Michigan, Horton said. The boats will include lights and decorations, he said.

“Everyone will probably have a different theme,” he said. “There’s no one direct theme associated with it.”

The Venetian Festival was a large, annual event in the past, and then was not held for a few years, Horton said. This is the third year it has been held since being revived, Horton said.

“Last year we had 10 boats that participated in the parade,” he said. “It’s our third year. It’s growing.”

Horton said weather will play a major role in how many people attend the festival. He said this year only the concert and boat parade are scheduled. Horton said there has been talk of adding additional activities. However, with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources owning the docks, Horton said there are several restrictions as to what can be done at the property.

Horton said the city’s plans to reclaim the harbor could bode well for the future of the Venetian Festival.

“If that is the case, we’d be able to do more festivities there,” he said.

For more information, contact Horton at Inland Marine at 989-876-7185.

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