The Forks Festival, Albion’s annual event which celebrates the end of summer, started this year from Friday September 16 to Saturday September 17. The festival is named after the three branches of the Kalamazoo River that flow through downtown Albion.
Albion has been home to diverse ethnic communities since the city was founded in 1833. It was the result of the migration of English, Italians, Eastern Europeans, African Americans, and Hispanics to Michigan.
“The Forks Festival is a celebration of the rich cultural diversity of our community that began in 1967,” said Albion Mayor Victoria Garcia-Snyder.
“The festivities lineup typically lasts for a year with all other events normally revolving around that weekend. The festival normally draws thousands of residents and visitors to our downtown area,” Mayor Garcia-Snyder said.
The festival is also an opportunity for local and commercial businesses to showcase their products and services.
“It certainly gives a huge boost in revenue to our existing downtown businesses, but also to our local entrepreneurs who rely on events like this to gain exposure,” Mayor Garcia-Snyder said.
“For people looking to start their business, the festival provides an opportunity to try out their concept and gauge their interest,” said Anthony Cox, owner and chef of Rust Belt Ramen. “For existing businesses, a large number of visitors offers the opportunity to make significant sales for the weekend or to find new potential customers.”
“Festival of the Forks is special to us because it’s where we first introduced Rust Belt Ramen to the world. We started the festival as an exploration to find out if Albion would even be interested in a restaurant inspired by Japanese,” said Chef Cox when asked how important the Festival of the Forks is to a small business owner.
The Festival of the Forks marks the first anniversary anniversary of Rust Belt Ramen.
However, the festival was not without incident. Around 6:40 p.m. Saturday, officers from the Albion Police Department responded to a call reporting a firearm exchange between two individuals at the festival. Later that night, officers located the suspect near Lloyd Park on Cass Street.
Relatives of the suspect began interfering with the ongoing arrest and were subsequently detained by officers. According to Scott Kipp, head of public safety for Albion, the incident resulted in the arrest of six people, including three minors,
The Forks Festival continued without further incident despite the altercation and arrests.