CHESANING (WJRT) -
(07/07/14) - Normally at this time of year, the Chesaning Showboat Music Festival would be sailing into Mid-Michigan.
That's not the case anymore.
The Showboat was canceled last summer, but this week, a new celebration is ready to fill the void.
For 75 years, the Chesaning Showboat Music festival provided Mid-Michigan with plenty of summertime fun. That all ended abruptly last July.
"After Showboat was canceled last year, it was a big heartache in our town, and we decided that something should be done to keep something going," said Bobbi Bates, Chesaning River Days board member.
Following the Showboat Committee's bankruptcy, the Chesaning Chamber of Commerce rallied together to create Chesaning River Days. This new celebration kicks off on Thursday.
"It's something great where we can involve all the community members, and there's a little bit of everything in this festival," said Nicole Schoch, Chesaning River Days board member.
But don't look for River Days to bring in the big and expensive musical acts that Showboat was known for.
"No. We're just staying with a small town festival. The chamber is really to promote business, so we're trying to do something to get people into our businesses, help promote our town and give our townspeople something to do in the summer," Bates said.
River Days won't be lacking in entertainment, though.
"Chesaning's got Talent. We have five different acts from dancers and singers, we have a martial arts group. After that we have an Elvis impersonator, Jake Slater," Bates said.
Chamber members are aiming to give this new festival it's own identity and they've come up with several new ideas.
"The raft parade is something fun that'll be going on down at the park, just something for people to have fun and be creative. Our theme is childhood movies," Schoch said.
At the same time, some of the Showboat's traditional events will still be a part of River Days.
"A parade, kids day in the park, praise day in the park," Bates said.
While crowds might not be as big as during Showboat years, the hope is that River Days can attract its own share of out of towners.
"You've got to keep a positive attitude. You've got to keep Chesaning alive and keep it out there," Bates said.
Chesaning River Days begins on Thursday and runs through Sunday.