Parking issues key in Renaissance Festival permit renewal for 2022

By David Fleet
Groveland Twp. — On July 11, the township board of trustees voted 4-0 to OK the 2022 permit for the Michigan Renaissance Festival which opens Aug. 20. Trustee Jim Christopher was absent with notice. The approval is contingent on several requirements set forth by the township planning commission. The Renaissance Festival is from Aug. 20-Oct. 2.
Key in the discussions were a host of parking and traffic issues that occurred at the Michigan Renaissance Festival which concluded its 42 year run on Oct. 3, 2021.
While the festival was closed in 2020 due to the pandemic, the hiatus did not appear to deter a mass return of visitors to Hollygrove in 2021. Township officials say along with the fans came many transportation issues.
“We’ve had several interim solutions in the past when they had a catastrophic blowout,” said Bob DePalma, township supervisor. “We are looking for a permit fix to how we do this. I am happy to say the meeting we had, we’ve made some substantive improvements this year. However, we’re not done.”
According to township officials Perryville Road had so many cars parked along the side an ambulance could not get down it. As a result more than 60 cars were towed according to the Michigan State Police and it’s a public safety issue.
DePalma outlined measures during several meetings prior to the vote.
An addition driveway, to get in and out of the parking lots; four electronic signs including on I-75 Exit 101 (North), I-75 Exit 106 (South) and at each end of Dixie Highway, the signs will be used to close the festival if they can’t get traffic in or out fast enough; the number of parking attendants will be increased to 80 on festival days; tow-away signs for parking on Perryville and Lahring roads, in addition to the Michigan State Police, four designated township officials will call for a tow-away if necessary and chalking isles for parking and cell phones will notify festival-goers of parking issues along with possible closures.
Township officials say the last three weekends of the 2021 festival had congestion and parking on Perryville, the West end of Groveland Road and Holdridge Road. In some cases an ambulance or any emergency vehicle could not have come through in case of emergency. The Groveland and Holly Township planning commissions came together on rectifications for parking.
During the upcoming season, at the cost of the Renaissance Festival Grand Rapids-based Fishbeck and Flint-based Rowe Engineering will do a complete traffic study during the events. The results will provide an indication of just what, if any issue still exists.
“I think we are in a much better position,” he said.  “If it does not work, there’ll be more requirements next year.”

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