Blushing Blossoms of Southwest Michigan | Midwest Living

Blushing Blossoms of Southwest Michigan

Try a scenic spring drive amid fruit trees and a festival of bloom.


Sandpaper Inn.
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Blushing blossoms.
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Most of the festival happens in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, the area's largest towns, joined by a bridge over the St. Joseph River.

Benton Harbor hosts the Miss Blossomtime Coronation and the Blessing of the Blossoms. The more visitor-friendly and picturesque St. Joe, with its lamppost-lined streets and prime Lake Michigan location, hosts a carnival at Silver Beach near the St. Joseph Lighthouse.

The big event is the Grand Floral Parade, a two-hour affair of flower-covered floats and high-energy high school bands that travel the bridge between the cities. Fresh off a parade float, last year's Miss Congeniality, Emily Eller of Stevensville, said: "This is the big festival that brings us together to celebrate the agriculture of the area, which is important to all our communities. I love spring here. So invigorating. It's just beautiful."

About 10 miles northeast of St. Joe, driving a tree-lined gravel driveway off Ryno Road brings you to Karma Vista Vineyard and Winery in Coloma. From here you'll see the beauty and the bounty that drew Joe and Sue Herman to this hilltop.

"We wanted this view, and to get as close to our vineyards as we could," Sue says. She's standing in the winery's spacious tasting room before a window that reveals grapevines, then cherry trees, then sand dunes that plunge down to Lake Michigan. Though grape-growing is a new venture for the Hermans, the family has grown fruit in southwest Michigan for six generations.

Multigenerational fruit-growing is a common theme in Berrien County. Following beautifully wavy Friday Road a few miles south of Karma Vista brings you to Jollay Orchards at the crest of a low-lying hill. During the first weekend in May, sixth-generation farmer Jay Jollay opens the doors of his white barn-turned-shop to sell jams, pies and asparagus.

Jollay is one of the few orchards open at blossom time, and Jay provides visitors plenty to do, even without produce to pick. Huck Finn-style fishing poles and bait await use on the stocked pond. Red Flyer wagons, also used during the you-pick season, let visitors haul their kids through Jollay's 140 acres. So many different fruits are planted here, including cherries, peaches, apples and plums, that there's generally something flowering all spring.


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