Isabella County Festival of Banners to decorate town for fourth year

The annual Isabella County Festival of Banners is back for its fourth annual year and has now expanded outside of downtown Mount Pleasant.

Art Reach of Mid-Michigan Executive Director Kathy Hill said last year 333 banners were decorated and displayed throughout town.

“We have community members and students paint artwork on the banners, and they’re hung for six months,” Hill said. “It’s a community art project.”

The idea for the banners came from Village of Lake Isabella President George Dunn and his wife, Barbara, who noticed banners while traveling in Canada.

Hill said the Dunns told people about the banners, and it took off from there.

Banners are $25 for adults and free to decorate for children.

Hill said the county charges less for the banners than it costs them to produce because they want all community members to be able to be involved.

“Half of the banners are painted by school children. It’s documentation; something to put for the kids to hold on to,” she said. “We’re trying to keep it very inclusive and affordable.”

Businesses can also design and paint banners for $100 to be used as advertisements and also for decoration in the county.

“Last year, 25 businesses did it,” Hill said. “It helps support the program.”

Trillium owner Helen Chase has sponsored a banner every year the festival has taken place.

Chase said she loves what the banners add to the area and the reaction from community members who stop by Trillium, 123 E. Broadway St.

“It makes the downtown look beautiful,” she said. “I support it as a whole, because it’s fun, it’s festive, it’s pretty.”

Every year, booklets are produced with photographs of the painted banners and details of Isabella County summer events.

Chase said locals and visitors enjoy seeing the banners, and people take the booklets and go around town looking for specific banners.

“After the first year, people commented on it and our customers love it,” she said. “We get positive feedback all the time."

Hill said the event would not be possible without the energy and work from the volunteers.

“It’s because of the volunteers this event has been so successful,” she said.

Images and money must be submitted to Art Reach by Feb. 22. They will take images and enlarge them to fit the 5-by-3 canvases.

Paint days will be held in March at Jameson, 5142 Bud St., where those who purchased banners can come and paint at the building or take the banners home to paint and bring back.

The banners will be hung June 1 throughout downtown Mount Pleasant, Shepherd, Winn, Pickard Street and the Isabella Indian Reservation.


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