Red Flannel Festival, The

UTR-Webmaster Episode 213

Every October in Cedar Springs, Michigan they have The Red Flannel Festival where the entire town shows up sporting their very best red flannel. It can be a hat, shirt, pants, socks, jacket or whatever, as long as it’s red. It really is an amazing sight to see. A sea of red everything flowing up and down Main Street. People decorate themselves, their homes, even their dogs. And if you like colorful characters, you find plenty there. But you can bet that every one of them will be red.

Not only is this one of Michigan’s oldest festivals, it also has a very unique story. Back in 1936 the winter was unusually cold and the nation was in the grips of a deep freeze. A newspaper writer in New York decried that you couldn’t find red flannel underwear anywhere in the nation.

Well, when the local paper The Cedar Springs Clipper got wind of this, they wanted to set this gentleman straight. At the time the Clipper was owned by Nina Babcock and Grace Hamilton, who called themselves “The Clipper Gals.” They answered the New York writer with a RED HOT editorial stating, “Just because Sak’s Fifth Avenue doesn’t carry red flannels, it doesn’t follow that no one in the country does. CEDAR SPRINGS’ merchants have red flannels!” The rebuttal was picked up by the Associated Press, word spread across the nation, the orders started pouring in and the rest, as they say, is history.

This festival really is classic Americana with all the trimmings. They crown a red flannel king and queen, there is great food to enjoy and plenty of fun games and special events happening the entire time. The day we were there thousands of people lined the streets for the big parade. And even though we weren’t actually from Cedar Springs, you couldn’t help but feel the genuine hometown pride. It’s something every town should have.

Everywhere you look people in red having as much fun as you can possibly have: it’s the kind of event you really wish was in your home town. No wonder people come from all over for this festival. So if you like classic American festivals and you just happen to have some red flannel in the closet, you know what to do.