By David Fleet
Groveland Twp.- The Michigan Renaissance Festival 12600 Dixie Hwy. concluded its 42 year on Oct. 3 following a year of closure in 2020 due to the pandemic. The hiatus however, did not appear to deter a mass return of visitors to Hollygrove for the late summer event. But, township officials say along with the fans came a host transportation issues.
“The Renaissance Festival had some real traffic problems this year,” said Bob DePalma, township supervisor. “The last three weekends of the 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. It was jammed up badly.”
As a result, on Oct. 6 local representatives from the Renaissance Festival, Michigan State Police, Oakland County Sheriff, Holly Township Supervisor’s office, Holly Fire Department officials, along with Groveland Township officials gathered to discuss the traffic concerns and possible rectifications.
“Right now we have a plan on the table that will fix the problem on a permanent basis along with a safety release if it does not work,” he said.
The plan details will be released if approved by the communities, he said.
DePalma along with other officials determined that after the population was locked up for a year and half due to the pandemic, a lot of people wanted to go to the festival.
“The first two or three weeks were lower attendance, but more people started to arrive after that,” he said. “The last few weeks of the festival had significantly more people prompting a host of issues.”
When traffic gets backed up on Dixie Highway, the GPS systems start rerouting festival-goers on area back roads.
“The people started going down the side roads, rather than Dixie Highway and it made matters worse,” said DePalma.
Perryville Road had so many cars parked along the side an ambulance could not get down it, he said.
“As a result more than 60 cars were towed according to the Michigan State Police,” he said. “It’s a public safety issue. We had a lot of upset people.”
Parking space was not a problem, he said.
“The Renaissance parking officials reported that even on the worst days more than eight acres of space was still available,” he said.
“They could just not get the cars in or out fast enough.”