THE STORY OF PLYMOUTH, MICHIGAN: A MIDWEST MICROCOSM
The Plymouth Fall Festival grew out of a community family picnic, sponsored by the Plymouth Rotary Club.
The idea for the picnic was suggested by Don Lightfoot, a member of the club's Youth Activities Committee.
Don proposed that Rotary sponsor a chicken barbecue to
raise funds to buy equipment for a playground at the end of Wing Street.
About 500 people attended the event, held at the
Playground on May 20, 1956.
During the outing, President-elect Don Sutherland, of the Rotary Club, presented the playground equipment, and Mayor Russell Daane accepted it for the City.
On May 24, 1956 the City Commission, by resolution, thanked the Rotary Club for the gift, and Don Lightfoot for suggesting the idea.
A second picnic was held June 9, 1957, at the Hamilton Street Playground. As in the preceding and succeeding years,
Rotarians prepared and served the 500 chickens used that year. The price of the meal, consisting of barbecued chicken,
corn-on-the cob, potato chips and coffee was $2.00 for adults, and $1.25 for children.
The profit, $505, was again spent for playground equipment.
The site for Rotary's "Third Annual Plymouth Community Chicken Barbecue," held September 18, was the
athletic field of Plymouth High School (now Central Middle School).
Tickets that year were reduced to $1.50 for adults and $1.00 for children.
The purpose was to raise money for Rotary's Youth Benefit and Community Service Fund and
to extend a welcome to our neighbors to visit Plymouth.
No festival was held in 1959.
From these three barbecues, held on neighborhood playgrounds,
grew the first Fall Festival,
which took place in the fall of 1960.
In that year, the scope of the outing was broadened to include more than a dinner.
Kellogg Park was first used as the site, and the term "Fall Festival" was first applied
to the event. I believe it was Harold Guenther who proposed the name.