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Mackinac Island Lilac Festival: In Full Bloom
With a heavy winter and a plant that loves snow, Mackinac Island’s lilacs are sure to be gorgeous when the 65th Annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival takes place from June 5-16, 2014 to celebrate the Island’s thousands of lilac blooms.
“The festival celebrates its most recognized botanical symbol, the lilac, while emphasizing its international, cultural and historic appeal, said Mary McGuire Slevin, festival director. “We have added elements to this year’s festival to keep repeat visitors intrigued while targeting botanical, equine, canine, culinary and wine enthusiasts. The winter was especially long and filled with snow, which makes for the perfect conditions for a great season of lilacs on Mackinac.”
Festivities include classic festival events; Coronation of the Lilac Festival Queen and Court, Lilac Festival 10K, Walk and Talk with Lilacs, A Taste of Mackinac, Mackinac Island Dog and Pony Show and the Lilac Festival Grand Parade.
Mackinac Island State Park, Michigan’s first state park will be the setting for Island naturalist Trish Martin of Bogan Lane Inn Bed & Breakfast who will offer a Nature Tour of the park while Mary Patay, the coach at Mackinac Island Public School will take festival goers on early morning Legends and Lore Treks. Those who prefer seated travel are able to take the leisurely horse drawn carriage tour with Mackinac Island Carriage Tours, rent saddle horses from Cindy’s Riding Stable or Drive Your Own Buggies from Jack’s Livery while cyclists will find over 70 miles of trails to explore, no need to bring a bike as Mackinac Island is filled with bicycle rentals from cruisers to mountain bikes to bicycles built for two.
Attractions also include the new Mackinac Island Carriage Tours and Grand Hotel stables at Surrey Hills, Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory, Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect World, The Tower Museum at Mission Point Resort, Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Island Art Museum, Fort Mackinac, Great Turtle Kayaking, Charter Fishing, Haunts of Mackinac Haunted History Tours, Maze of Mirrors and Professor Harry’s Old Time Photos.
Held on the lawn of the Harbour View Inn and surrounded by some of the Island’s oldest lilacs, the Taste of Mackinac provides locals and visitors an opportunity to sample culinary favorites served by chefs from the Island’s restaurants. Michigan wine and beer are featured as well as the latest from Coca Cola. Ardan Academy of Irish Dance will perform amidst the lush lilacs surrounding Harbour View Inn.
Celebrating equine and canine companions, the Mackinac Island Dog & Pony club returns with the annual Mackinac Island Dog & Pony Show and the Epona & Barkus Parade. The literal Dog and Pony show will include a blessing of the animals, horse etiquette, informal best-in-show awards, agility competitions and features animal trainer extraordinaire Dan Wallen with his trick ponies and horses. Dan Wallen, descendant of generations of circus animal trainers will showcase his newest equine professionals at Windermere Point immediately following the Epona & Barkus Parade. Named one of the top 10 pet-friendly places in the U.S. by National Geographic Kids, Mackinac Island hosts more than 600 horses and hundreds of dogs seasonally and offers numerous dog-friendly properties, including outdoor cafes and pet friendly attractions.
Detroit Music Award Winning Singer/Songwriter Audra Kubat will perform concerts around town during the festival. She has received the best folk artist award in the prestigious award ceremony almost yearly since 2000 and garnered many to fill her shelves in her downtown Detroit home. Her video Sparrow was nominated for best music video this past year. In addition to performing at the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Ark in Ann Arbor and during the past years in the Mackinac Island Music Festival, she also teaches the underserved children of Detroit at Capuchin Soup Kitchen. Kubat has a strong following and will good reason, she is a real troubadour and a prolific songwriter.
Lilac specialists will be on hand for the annual festival on Mackinac Island. The daily “Walk and Talk with Lilacs” will feature symposium for enthusiasts and seasoned gardeners to learn more about varieties and care of their lilacs with University of Vermont master gardener Jeff Young and others. “The lilac festival gives us a unique opportunity to gather the world’s foremost lilac experts and enthusiasts here on Mackinac Island,” said festival director, Mary McGuire Slevin. “This is home to some of the country’s oldest, largest and most beautiful lilacs."
About Mackinac Island:
Mackinac Island is a National Historic Landmark located between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas and covers 2,200 acres of land. The Island banned private motor vehicle use during the last century and today relies on the services of more than 600 horses to provide residents and visitors transportation around the Island
Mackinac hosts nearly a million visitors each year and is home to the Lilac Festival, Chicago & Bay View Yacht Clubs’ Race to Mackinac, Fudge Festival, Grand Hotel Labor Day Jazz Festival, Somewhere in Time Weekend and Great Turtle Half Marathon/Halloween Bash.
Syringa vulgaris (lilac or common lilac) is a species of flowering plant in the olive family Oleaceae, native to the Balkan Peninsula, where it grows on rocky hills
Lilacs were introduced to Europe at the end of the sixteenth century from Ottoman gardens. The Holy Roman Emperor's ambassador, Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, is generally credited with supplying lilac slips to Carolus Clusius around1562. Well-connected botanists, like herbalist John Gerard, soon had the rarity in their gardens: Gerard notes that he had lilacs growing “in very great plenty” in 1597
In the American colonies lilacs were introduced in the eighteenth century. Peter Collinson, F.R.S., wrote to the Pennsylvania gardener and botanist John Bartram, proposing to send him some, and remarked that John Custis of Virginia had a fine "collection"
Mackinac Island’s lilacs are thought to have come to the Island during the Fur Trade Era in the early to mid-1800s after bore samples were collected from the International Lilac Society’s Charles D. Holetich, Dr. Zilimir Borzan, and Vreek Vrugtman in June, 2007. Mackinac Island has a similar terrain to the Balkans, which explains their growing success.