Prominent on the Potterville city flag is the motto “City of Helping Hands.” That is definitely the case when it comes to organizing a big event in a small town like Potterville. The 2021 Gizzard Fest is just around the corner, on June 11 and 12, and Brandy Hatt, Potterville Zoning Administrator and a member of the festival planning committee, says it’s been entirely a team effort, involving the City, citizens, and the Potterville Chamber of Business.
“It wouldn’t have happened otherwise,” Hatt said. Many years ago, the event started out as Potterville Days. In 1994, it became the Gizzard Fest. The last Gizzard Fest was held in 2016 and ended because there were no funds and no volunteers, she explained. The event was missed by many, and last year a committee was formed to bring it back. The event was all ready to go, but due to COVID-19, it had to be canceled.
It’s back on the calendar for 2021, though. This year features festivities all day on Friday and Saturday,” Hatt said, and thousands are expected to attend. The festival, and the Potterville restaurant Joe’s Gizzard City, made national news when it was featured on the second season of the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
“It has been a real team effort,” Hatt said. “The event has brought the citizens of Potterville together to make sure that it happens. Everything is being sponsored by someone in town.”
The fun starts Friday morning with vendors on Main Street at 9 a.m. and goes all day, culminating with a chicken-themed parade at 6 p.m., followed by Another Clucking 5K run at 7:30 p.m., and a Block Party on Main Street at 8 p.m. The Block party features Be Kind Rewind band, a Boston-based ‘90s Alternative Tribute band. This is a family-friendly event and will have food trucks and vendors.
The parade committee selected Maureen Storie as the Grand Marshall for the parade. Storie has been active in the community and created Potterville Gives Back, a non-profit that sponsors food drives, toy drives, backpack drives, and Earth Day cleanup. The group will be doing a cleanup event after Gizzard Fest.
This year’s event also features a Gizzard Fest Queen. Selected for the honor is Georgia Fry, a real “sassy pants,” according to Hatt. Fry has been very involved in Potterville for years along with her late husband Ken Fry. “She just loves Potterville!” Hatt said.
There will be gizzards to eat, of course, including a gizzard eating contest where the first person to devour two pounds of deep-fried gizzards is the winner. For those with a sweeter tooth, the pancake breakfast on Saturday morning will be something you will enjoy. Along with the breakfast, there will be a silent auction with lots of special treasures to purchase.
Gizzard Fest won’t disappoint those who are into music. Saturday will feature three different bands, and headlines Global Village, “premier party band of the Lansing area” that plays 70s, 80s, and 90s music. Smooth Street Variety Band and Stone Street Revival Band are also performing.
A carnival, a beverage tent, vendors, fair rides and carnival food, a classic car show, a corn hole tournament, line dancing, and a softball tournament are all on the schedule.
For more information, or to volunteer or donate, call 517-281-5659. For a complete schedule of events and information visit the festival website at gizzardfest.org.