Each year during the third weekend in August we celebrate a part of our local heritage, wild blueberries. Established in 1984, the Wild Blueberry Festival is a celebration that includes an art fair, entertainment, and wonderful local foods. The celebration showcases informative programs of music, nature, and local history lore. Here is how it all started.
Once forested in stands of huge white pine, the Paradise area was logged from the 1880's to the 1920's. The cut-over land, swept by fires, provided a natural environment for wild blueberries, one of nature's "pioneer" plants. Blueberry bushes flourished in the sandy, acidic soil. Fields of "blue gold" covered vast areas and gave rise to a new industry.
At a time when cultivated blueberries were unknown, our wild berries were in great demand. Up to 1500 laborers moved into the area during the summers of the 1920's and 1930's to pick berries. Shoreline steamers transported the blueberry cargo to Detroit, Chicago, and Buffalo.
The local blueberry industry peaked during the great Depression, but declined with the advent of World War II when labor for picking was scarce, and the natural secession of vegetation and forest reduced the number of blueberry bushes.
Wild blueberries still thrive in the area, and some commercial picking continues south and west of Paradise. The low bush varieties, found in open, sunny areas ripen from late July through August. Highbush berries may be found in shade and ripen from late August through September.
Wild blueberry pancakes, pies, muffins, and buckles are some favorites offered at the Festival. Don't miss tasting our wonderful homemade wild blueberry pie!
We sincerely thank all of you who have volunteered your time to support this event. You have made these donations possible.
Wild Blueberry Festival profits are donated back to the community of Paradise.