Kingsford forgives $75K on loan for centennial

City officials, organizers call event a success despite losing money

Rick, left, and Marty Lagina ride as grand marshals in the Kingsford Centennial parade Aug. 5, 2023. The stars of the History Channel series “The Curse of Oak Island” are Kingsford natives. (Jodi Ellis photo)

KINGSFORD — The city of Kingsford has decided to forgive the $75,000 still owed on a loan for the centennial celebration in August.

Later this month, a major raffle is planned to raise money for the annual Flivverfest, given that the centennial did not provide for the annual city event later this year.

Centennial organizers had expected to see a profit on the three-day celebration but due to a number of factors — including increased costs for talent and supplies — it ended up losing money.

In return for canceling the debt, the remaining centennial books were given to the city.

Despite losing money, city officials and organizers consider the centennial a success.

“Although it is true that the event lost money, the city did receive donations from Rick and Marty Lagina and a book inventory that will offset much of the loss,” City Manager Mike Stelmaszek said, referring to the stars of the History Channel’s reality series “The Curse of Oak Island” who are Kingsford High School alumni and were grand marshals of the centennial parade. “The celebration went well, and Kingsford successfully honored its 100-year anniversary.”

The Laginas each donated $50,000 for renovating Ford Park.

The centennial books will be sold until the inventory is gone, with proceeds going into the city’s general fund.

John Jessen, who helped organize the event as part of the centennial committee, said overall the event was great.

“We run into people every week who rave about it. From a public safety aspect, it was largely incident-free and people enjoyed reuniting with old friends,” Jessen said.

Entertainment for the centennial in August included 1980s musicians Vince Neil and Stephen Pearcy on Thursday, Big & Rich on Friday and Heart’s Ann Wilson on Saturday.

“Saturday was hard to book, but I thought the music was good,” Jessen said.

Jessen said Runaway June, which opened for Big & Rich, proved to be very popular, as did former resident Andy Gibbons leading a reunion of Bad Axe Rodeo. On the side stage, a reunion of Rock Slide garnered a large crowd, as did local band OZ.

Thursday and Friday attendance numbers during the centennial were what they anticipated, but “attendance for Saturday was down,” Jessen said. “As a result, we couldn’t make a donation to the people who organize Flivverfest.”

Flivverfest is an annual fundraiser for Kingsford athletics that takes place at the end of July. It was preempted last summer by the centennial, Jessen said.

At the end of this month, the centennial committee in conjunction with Flivverfest organizers plan to have a $10,000 cash raffle. First-place winner will receive $7,000, with $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place. Only 3,000 tickets will be sold. Tickets will be $20 each or three of $50.

They hope they can raise enough money to make donations to Flivverfest and other organizations that helped at the centennial. They also plan to set aside some money for the 125th celebration, Jessen said.


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