Summer fun continues with Bitely Homecoming

LILLEY TWP. — This year’s summer festivals are in full swing.

Last weekend, the community of Bitely in Newaygo County held its annual three-day celebration, and a great time was had by all.

The 55th Bitely Homecoming began early Friday morning with breakfast, a craft show and a fishing contest. Other Friday highlights were the traditional horse pull, the Little King and Queen Contest, a dance for the teenagers and a fireworks display.

Perfect summer weather continued through Saturday and Sunday, providing an ideal backdrop for the car show, a chicken barbecue, karaoke, horseshoe pitching and the Junior Miss Bitely and Miss Bitely Pageants. The festivities wrapped up on Sunday with the always-popular frog-jumping contest, canoe races, a greased pig chase, the ever-lively Bitely parade and gala raffle drawings.

As always, attendance at the Bitely Homecoming was good; clearly this event is dear to the hearts of local residents. As volunteer Pepper Bonnett remarked, “This is a family oriented get-together. We all have a terrific time — no summer would be complete without it.” Her co-worker, Kathy Ruelle was quick to add, “The people here are great! And — we have the best chicken in the state!”

Everybody was in the spirit of things, including good-sport Tessa Baker who spent several hours at the “Dunk Tank” in support of the community. “I’ve been dunked at least twenty times today!” she laughed.

The Bitely Homecoming is always a chance for old friends to relax and share good times, catch up on all the local happenings, and watch the kids having a wonderful experience.

“There are always a lot of smiles and laughter,” noted Dennis Parsons of the VFW Post 995, which is of course an active participant in Bitely affairs. Indeed, many organizations and individuals gladly pitched in to make this year’s Homecoming a success. They included many local merchants and philanthropic societies from Lilley Township, Baldwin, Hesperia and other Northwest Michigan locales.

“People around here are kind-hearted, and generous,” observes Al Crysler, who has been President of the Bitely Better Conservation Club since 1989. “We all have a terrific time — I wouldn’t miss it! I’ve been attending the Homecoming for years, and actually, my dad always came here faithfully, too, so I’m a second-generation Bitely booster!”

No list of festival organizers would be complete without a mention of Harry Johnson, who “goes the extra mile” every summer to make the Bitely Homecoming one of the most fun events of the summer.

If you have never attended, make a point to do so next year.

The Bitely Homecoming is the kind of event that makes you say, “These are the good old days!”