The Albion Festival of the Forks has been a staple of the community since its inception in 1966. For the past 50 years, the Festival of the Forks has been a fantastic way to showcase the city, its businesses and its people.
This year, the festival kicked off last Friday, Sept. 16, with the Cruise-In Show. According to Amy Robertson, president and CEO of the Albion Chamber of Commerce, it was one of the most successful Cruise-Ins they have ever put on with approximately 140 cars involved. The day continued with an appearance from Ronald McDonald, a Spaghetti Supper, the Festival Bike Ride, a Pet Show and a Gospel Revue.
Despite the stormy weather on Saturday morning, the second day of the Festival of the Forks was a busy event.
“I’m really pleased with the turnout this afternoon,” said Robertson on Saturday. “We were certainly very worried with the rainstorm this morning, but as soon as the sun cracked we’ve had a good-sized crowd. When I look toward the train tracks, it looks like thousands of people are here.”
Unfortunately, due to the weather, the festival did lose out on some of its vendors. According to Robertson, there were 151 vendors from Albion, Detroit, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Fort Wayne, Ohio and more, all planning on attending the festival. However, only about 60 could make it to the event.
Of those vendors, one loyal company stands out above the rest. Rexine and Gilbert Cockroft of Uncle Gilly’s Concessions have been selling their popcorn, cotton candy, candy apples, snow cones and other treats to festival-goers for the past 50 years. According to literature handed out at the event and Rexine Cockroft, Uncle Gilly’s is the only vendor to participate in the Festival of the Forks for all 50 years. Cockroft said she was born and raised in Albion and currently lives in Springport, but she and her husband return every year to contribute to the festival.
As Saturday continued, the festival committee brought in new activities and performances in honor of the 50th anniversary. Events such as a carriage ride, sub-eating contest, barnyard bonanza and the Cirque Amongus performance were all newly incorporated into the festival this year.
“I’m really pleased with the components that we added to festival this year for the 50th,” said Robertson. According to her, there was a consistent line and crowd for most of these events.
By the time the Festival of the Forks ended on Saturday evening, hundreds of people had come and gone and experienced the best of Albion. From petting farm animals to racing bikes, the 50th Anniversary of the Festival of the Forks had something for everyone.
Photo by Sarah Finn