The Festival of the Forks, Albion’s yearly event that celebrates the end of summer, began this year on Friday, Sept. 16 through Saturday, Sept. 17. The festival is named after the three forks of the Kalamazoo river that run through the downtown area of Albion.
Albion has been home to various ethnic communities since the city’s founding in 1833. This is the result of English, Italian, Eastern European, African-American, and Hispanic people migrating to Michigan.
“The Festival of the Forks is a celebration of our community’s rich cultural diversity that started back in 1967,” said Albion Mayor Victoria Garcia-Snyder.
“The lineup of festivities is typically a year in the making with all of the other events that normally revolve around this weekend. The festival normally draws in thousands of residents and visitors to our downtown area,” said Mayor Garcia-Snyder
The festival is also an opportunity for local and commercial businesses to advertise their products and services.
“This definitely gives a tremendous revenue boost to our existing downtown businesses, but also to our local entrepreneurs that rely on events like this for exposure,” said Mayor Garcia-Snyder.
“For people who want to launch their business, the festival provides an opportunity to try out their concept and gauge interest,” said Anthony Cox, owner and chef of Rust Belt Ramen. “For existing businesses, a large number of visitors provide an opportunity to either make large sales for the weekend or to find potential new customers.”
“Festival of the Forks is special to us because it is where we first introduced Rust Belt Ramen to the world. We launched at the festival as an exploration into whether or not Albion would even be interested in a Japanese-inspired restaurant,” said Chef Cox when asked what the significance of the Festival of the Forks is to a small business owner
The Festival of the Forks marks the one-year anniversary of Rust Belt Ramen.
However, the festival was not without incident. On Saturday at approximately 6:40 p.m., officers of the Albion Police Department responded to a call that reported an exchange of a firearm between two individuals at the festival. Later that night, officers tracked down the suspect near Lloyd Park on Cass Street.
Relatives of the suspect began to interfere with the ongoing arrest and were subsequently detained by officers. According to Scott Kipp, Albion Chief of Public Safety, the incident resulted in the arrest of six individuals, three of whom were minors,
The Festival of the Forks continued without further incident despite the altercation and arrests.