August 30, 1911, the Record-Eagle’s headlines told the story:
“GREAT CROWD AT PICNIC
TRAVERSE CITY DAY WAS HUGE SUCCESS
THOUSANDS HAD GOOD TIME
MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN ENJOYED RECREATION
Stores and Factories Closed Most of Day—Greatest Gathering Ever on Grounds Saw Thrilling Ball Game”
Before the Traverse City Film Festival, before the Cherry Festival, Traverse City held a celebration of its own, a festival that carried no overtones of patriotism or commercialism. Participants were invited to bring their own picnic goodies to the Civic Center (then called the Driving Park) for a day of fun. Farmers came with their families, and city folk, too. The rich and poor mingled. Young and old. Factory workers and their bosses. Estimates of the crowd varied between 8,000 and 10,000 people.
They ate and they partied. There were day fireworks and paper balloons launched for children, a bowery dance (a dance held outside) for the young, and the culminating baseball game for all who cared for that sport. In 1911—but not in 1912, the final year of Traverse City Day—speeches were offered to the crowd. One of them stands out because of its relevance to today’s social climate. Here are the words of the Record-Eagle in describing it.
Judge A. L. Deuel, member of the executive board of the Western Michigan Development Bureau, was the next speaker. Introduced by Mr. Amiotte. He had many good things to say and he said them in a manner that impressed his hearers with the fact that he knew what he was talking about. Mr. Deuel is full of vim and fire and his address had a tendency in showing the farmers and the city people as well what it means not to patronize home industries. “Traverse City is a live city, a beautiful city,” he said, “and she is becoming more beautiful every year. If we could go through a Rip Van Winkle sleep of twenty years and awake to find the great Grand Traverse region, we would be astounded at the great growth. All this is taking place just the same only we are not asleep and the development is taking place so fast that we don’t realize it. If any of you farmers or city people either, are sending to Sears & Roebuck or any other mail order house for goods, cut it out. The home trade is what we need to help pay our taxes, and Sears Roebuck will never help you. They wouldn’t know you if you went into their store. They don’t care, all they want is your money. We are now living in the best age of the world. What are you doing for your community? Work together for your county, your township, and do your best always. No man can do more than his best, and when you have done that the duty of man to his country is fulfilled.
This concluded the program and everybody flocked to the diamond to see the great battle of baseball, the feature attraction of the day.