KINGSLEY — A pair of upcoming events are part business, part entertainment and all Kingsley.
After losing its weekly farm market to COVID-19 in 2020, seeing its traditional band carnival canceled in March and its first business expo restricted in May, the village of Kingsley decided to throw a party for itself.
And everyone is invited.
Night Out in Kingsley is scheduled for a pair of Wednesday evenings this summer: July 21 and Aug. 18. Events run from 5-8 p.m.
Each of the Night Out events, centralized around Brownson Park, include booths, entertainment, food from Kingsley vendors and a car show-and-tell. Since there is none of the judging and none of the awards associated with a traditional car show, the ‘tell’ was added.
The classic cars are scheduled to depart downtown at the end of the night before rolling down to Civic Center South.
“It’s a small-town party, but its also for people who love Kingsley and people who love the small-town feel,” said Jena Van Wagner, who handles marketing for the Kingsley Downtown Development Authority. “We’ll show them what Kingsley has. We’ll have the booths, the entertainment and then do a slow roll through Kingsley to Civic Center South.”
“We’re looking forward to it,” said Jeff Yacks, a Kingsley High School graduate and owner of Papano’s Pizza Kingsley. “This will be our 17th year. In some ways it feels like a timeless tradition and in other ways it’s totally different.
“It pairs the unrivaled Kingsley community with the perfect time for getting together. We need to be together; that’s what Kingsley has thrived on. We look forward to having a family reunion.”
A business ‘reunion’ may be operative because there has been a lot of turnover and relocation within the Kingsley DDA.
The DDA district runs east-west along M-113 from the Industrial Park at Summit City Road to Clark Street. The district runs north-south on Brownson Avenue from TCF/Huntington Bank to the Kingsley Lumber Company.
Van Wagner estimates there are between 50 and 55 businesses within the Kingsley DDA district. About a dozen of those are new businesses that have, over the last 3½ years, moved into existing buildings or relocated to vacant buildings.
“It gives some of the new businesses a chance to introduce themselves to the community members,” Yacks said. “The Kingsley community and its residents have been through a lot over the last year.
“For us businesses that have been around, this is something we should have been doing. We have such a strong, resilient community. There is no other place in Michigan like Kingsley.”
Night Out in Kingsley is scheduled for Wednesdays because it is the traditional day for the Kingsley Farmer’s Market. Held in Brownson Park 2-8 p.m. every Wednesday, the traditional gathering will precede Night Out in Kingsley, again beginning at 2 p.m.
“This is an expansion on that,” said Van Wagner, who runs her own firm, JVW Marketing.
Van Wagner is still working on finalizing booth plans for Night Out. She expects 10-15 booths run by businesses/organizations and about that many of the “typical farm market-type of booths.”
“It’s going to be like 30 booths,” she said. “It includes everything from nonprofits to farmers to businesses. We have some kids doing booths.”
WCCW (107.5 FM) will have a live radio remote for the July 21 Night Out. Three to four entertainment acts will perform.
Van Wagner said the schedule for July 21 includes Kingsley Jazz Prism and Friends, Traverse City Swing Dance Club, The Kingsley Dance Company and Crockett, Armstrong and Smith.
Story time in the Kingsley Library Children’s Garden also will be held.
Food, including pizza and ice cream, will be on sale during Night Out in Kingsley. All of the vendors will be local, Van Wagner said.
Van Wagner said planning began after Kingsley Band Boosters canceled its annual carnival in March, which usually was one of the biggest community gatherings of the year.
“It’s all came together over the last few months,” Van Wagner said. “We said, ‘Let’s throw a party for the whole town,’ and Night Out started.”
Van Wagner said Night Out is presented by the DDA and funded by the businesses in Kingsley.
“It’s coming together,” she said. “It’s a first-year thing we’re purposely doing on a shoestring budget.”