Rochester Heritage Festival offers free entertainment

By Annie Stodola

The 32nd annual Rochester Heritage Festival takes place May 23-25 at the Municipal Park in Rochester.

The festival, which began as a bicentennial celebration at the Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve, has expanded greatly over the years.

“The first year was such a success and we found the community was interested in continuing an event like this each year,” said Sue Neal, executive director of Dinosaur Hill. “Eventually it evolved into the full-scale community event that it is now.”

Activities at the festival include a car show, craft show, old-time demonstrations of chores like sheep shearing, Civil War reenactments, and live entertainment. This year, the festival committee also announces the addition of a living statues exhibit. Additionally, there are a multitude of food options for festival-goers.

“We have everything from old-fashioned soda pop and kettle corn to turkey legs and even gelato,” Neal said. “You can essentially eat your way through the festival.”

Neal went on to highlight the events that particularly are of interest to Oakland University students.

 “For college students, the craft show and the car show are big hits, plus the local bands are something to see,” Neal said. “This year we have a rod and custom antique car show as well. More than that, it’s a chance for students to learn more about the community their school is in.”

  Bands range from funk/reggae group Lake Effect to blues band Catfish Project to My Biography, a pop/punk band. “The bands were selected because they encompassed a wide variety of music, different styles and lots of originality,” said Andrea Rozman, the festival’s entertainment coordinator. “They showcase the great music that is being created by musicians in the area, and I think it’ll add a fun dynamic to the festival.”

On Saturday, there is a 5K Fun Run at 8:30 a.m. To help offset the costs of the festival, there is a $15 fee. Check-in is at the Rochester Hills Public Library.

“[The run] is a great way to get out and enjoy the community,” said Melissa Humbyrd of Rochester Avon Recreation Authority. “Walkers, runners and strollers are welcome!”

There is no cost for admittance to the festival.

“The festival is both cheap and local,” Neal said. “It’s a great way to have a nice Memorial Day weekend without going far and without going broke in the process.”

A full schedule of events is on