February 28, 2017

County residents looking to start river festival

Thomas Williams
Mike Smith talks to Ryan Wyckoff, Brandy Wright, Matt Linsenman and Don LaVigne about plans for the OcRiverfest next Aug. 23 during a walk-around of downtown Mio.

OSCODA COUNTY — A group of county residents has banded together to plan a summer festival to coincide with the First Dam Canoe Race and focus on one of the county’s biggest assets — the Au Sable River.

Mio resident Mike Smith said the idea for the OcRiverfest, the Oc standing for Oscoda County, in downtown Mio next August came to him during an Oscoda County Planning Commission meeting.

“We were figuring out what the county was known for,” he said. “I said we were known for the river. It’s probably the biggest thing that brings people to the county every summer.”

Smith said from there, the idea started snowballing and culminated with the establishment of the OcRiverfest planning board, currently made up of himself, Ryan Wyckoff, Brandy Wright, Matt Linsenman and Don LaVigne, which had its first meeting in the county commissioner’s room Sept. 19.

“We started bouncing the idea amongst friends and people we knew at the beginning of the summer,” he said. As we talked to people, the interest seemed exceptionally high. We started to kick it into high gear about a month ago.”

Smith said the people currently on the board are committed to making the event a reality. 

“We all share the same vision of what we want this to be and where we would like it to be in the future,” he said. “With that being said, everybody that is currently on the board brings a unique skill set to the table. We are also looking for more people and more ideas.”  

  Smith said the event is still in the beginning stages and no activities are set in stone.

“Well, we don’t want to give too much away this early on in the planning, but we have some really cool stuff planned,” he said. “I think the big thing is getting something in there for all demographics. We have some plans for live entertainment of different genres. We also have some really cool stuff planned for families and kids. Everybody should find a ton of options to get excited about.”

Smith said one aspect of the county he wants to highlight is the different businesses, and he hopes bringing new people to the county will help the economy.

“We are going to be coming to the businesses in the near future with some of our ideas and ask for some of their ideas,” he said. “We have some things we would like the businesses downtown to do with their storefronts and we also got some ideas to get the businesses outside of downtown involved. I don’t want to say too much until we can contact the businesses, but we want the local businesses to be a focal point.”

Smith said the first event, planned for Aug. 23, will last only one day, but a successful event might see future expansion.

“Initially, we were thinking about making it a weekend event,” he said. “We decided at least for the first year we would consolidate our resources to one day. We want to keep the OcRiverfest packed with different options to keep people downtown, entertained and exited.”

Smith said the group is searching for support and ideas from other county residents. 

“We want to know what the people in the community would like to see included in this event,” he said. “We are also looking for additional board members. Anybody that has good ideas or would like to help out can get in contact with us at ocriverfest@yahoo.com.”


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