Annual Homecoming attracts thousands to the area BITELY \u2014 It\u2019s always good to come home again. Folks in Bitely have been marking their annual Homecoming for over half a century and they\u2019re inviting family, friends and visitors to join them for the 55th celebration of festivities Friday through Sunday. Their theme - \u201cThe next best thing to Heaven is ...Bitely 2011\u201d - reflects the community\u2019s enthusiasm. There\u2019s always a lot of fun to be had - and always in the warm and fuzzy embrace of new and old friends in this quiet little Newaygo County village. This year, as in years past, Bitely will explode with activity starting with the almost traditional Friday morning breakfast served by the Big Jackson Church of God team beginning at 7:45 a.m. - a good way to get up and about for a full day\u2019s fun. The day really takes off as the flea market opens, along with a craft show, (at the Steven Bitely Memorial Park), and fishing contests. At 3 p.m. the food booths and midway will open with goodies and games for everyone. Throughout the day there will be food and fun, and at 7 p.m., (at the VFW post), the Little King and Queen contest will be held. The Homecoming Committee will host a pie eating contest at 9 p.m. at the park and there will also be a teen dance in the evening. The first day of fun will wrap up with an impressive fireworks display lighting up the sky. On Saturday, after breakfast, things will get rolling at 8 a.m. with crafters showing off their wares, food booths opening early and midway rides getting started. The Ninth Annual Car Show will begin and runners in the 5K run will toe the line before being sent on their way, (at 8:30 a.m.) As the day rolls on, folks interested in everything and anything from horseshoe pitching to 3-on-3 basketball can find an outlet for their talents before tucking into a chicken barbecue meal at 11 a.m. sponsored by the Church of God. In the afternoon there will be volleyball, potato peeling, cherry pit spitting and nail driving all beginning at 1 p.m. Car show judging will take place at 2 p.m. with kids games filling the afternoon from 4 p.m. on. There will be a karaoke competition at 4:30 p.m. and adult arm wrestling at 5 p.m. The Junior Miss Bitely competition will be held at 7 p.m. followed by the Miss Bitely pageant at 8 p.m. The karaoke contest finals will fill the stage at 8:30 p.m. At 9 p.m. there will be a watermelon eating contest followed by a patio dance. Sunday, there is still a full day of activity ahead with softball, crafts, food booths, a frog jumping contest, (at 10 a.m.), horse pitching and canoe races. At 1 p.m., the annual Bitely Homecoming Parade will set out to the applause of the crowd. At 2:15 p.m. there will be a baby crawl race followed by a cake and pie judging contest and much more fun. Many of the activities will take place in and around Steven Bitely Park. For more information on times and locations consult the celebration flyers in and around the village or contact Harry Johnson at 745-4524 or Kim Beebe 231 912-1909.