Blossomtime Rounding Board


Springtime arrives late in Southwest Michigan as winter jealously holds on with a frigid grip. A cool northwest lake wind encourages the earth to oversleep, but a gradual temperate change and southern breeze give Mother Nature a wake-up call with an invitation to reveal her full majesty. The fruit orchards suddenly burst forth with magnificent color. It’s Blossomtime once again and the display of the aromatic blooms gives full promise of things to come.

A 1906 sermon by Reverend Mr. W.J. Cady of the First Congregational Church in Benton Harbor focused on the Almighty’s special grace that was bestowed on a thankful people. Cady’s sermon, which urged his congregation to drive through the orchards, is credited with planting the seeds for the observance of the Blossomtime Festival.

In 1923, a local fruit processor, Fred Granger, and the Reverend Mr. Joshua Randall conceived the idea of a floral parade that would extol the virtues of the “Heart of the Fruit Belt.” The realization of this dream occurred in 1924 when the first grand floral parade was conducted in the Twin Cities. Catherine Burrell of Benton Harbor was chosen by newspaper ballots to be the first Blossomtime Queen. Now more than 20 communities hold their own contests to select queens to represent them in a collective pageant to select Miss Blossomtime each year.

The Blossom Festival was discontinued in 1943 due to WW II, and resumed in 1951. It has flourished ever since, drawing thousands to the streets of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor on the first Saturday in May to watch more than 100 units, including bands, clowns, floats, classic cars and the intricate maneuvers of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Motorcycle Drill Team.

The Blossomtime Rounding Board was made possible by a donation from Manny and Mary Ann Raschke.