People attending the Gays Mills Spring Festival this weekend might be a little surprised by what they find, especially if they haven’t been back to the village since last spring. In fact, the village has undergone substantial changes since the Gays Mills Apple Festival held this past fall.
What’s new? Well, the Gays Mills Public Library, the Gays Mills Village Hall, the Ocooch Mountain Rescue EMS Building and the Gays Mills Department of Public Works Building have all been constructed within the last year. And, that’s not all. A 12,000-square foot strip mall called the Gays Mills Mercantile Center has also been constructed. Three businesses, including the barbershop, beauty salon and weekly newspaper, have moved from Main Street to the Mercantile Center on Highway 131 on the northern edge of the village. Those businesses have been joined by three others at the Mercantile Center, which is near the recently completely Gays Mills Community Commerce Center also located on Highway 131 on the north side of the village.
In addition to the village hall and public library, the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center is also home to the Kickapoo Culinary Center, a well-equipped shared use kitchen, designed to serve the community as a food business incubator.
Additionally, the grocery store and gas station moved from Main Street into a new location last fall called the Marketplace, which is run under the management of Cenex. The store is located just north of the Gays Mills Mercantile Center on Highway 131.
Although many things have changed in Gays Mills during the past year, a lot is still the same. For instance, those attending the Lil’ Britches Rodeo will use the same arenas as in the past, located on the Crawford County Fairgrounds. The event features lots of local rodeo performers, aged six to 18, and is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. It runs from 1 to 5 p.m. both days and there is $5 admission charge.
Participants in the Gays Mills Folk Festival of Music and Dance will also use the same park as last year. That’s Lions Park, located along Main Street next to the bridge, for daytime activities on Saturday starting around noon. The big Saturday night concert will be held at the old Gays Mills Community Building on Main Street, just like last year. The Friday night square dance is also in the old Community Building on Main Street and the Sunday morning Gospel Sing is on the banks of the Kickapoo River in Lions Park.
There is no charge for the folk festival activities in the park this year. So enjoy the Maypole Dance in the Maycrown you create or take in the open stage or fiddle bee. There is also a special Irish music concert at 1 p.m. featuring Skrade and Shortridge.
The Saturday Night Concert features Yid Vicious, the Roddys and String Ties. Admission is $15 for adults and $5 children.
In addition to the Lil’ Britches Rodeo and Gays Mills Folk Festival, an antique tractor pull has been added to the list of activities this year. The antique tractor pull, called ‘Old Iron Revival’ is planned for Saturday, May 12 on Gay Street just off Main Street
Businesses at the new Gays Mills Mercantile Center, as well as the businesses on Main Street and elsewhere, will participate in a Gays Mills Open House Day. The open house events run all day Saturday with a host of activities scheduled at various times throughout the day.
Although the orchards won’t be in blossom this year, there’s still plenty to see and do in the Gays Mills area. Join the village residents in celebrating spring festival this year and see the many changes brought on by the flood relocation effort, while you enjoy the people and activities for which the village has long been known.