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Pickler headlines Homecoming Saturday night; free family fun during daytime

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Radio station WYCD 99.5-FM (“Detroit's No. 1 for Country!) is partnering to bring a country music artist to the Homecoming main stage Saturday night, who rose to fame as a contestant on the fifth season of Fox Entertainment's American Idol.

During the daytime, families will find plenty of free activities taking place at Ford Field Park, 22051 Cherry Hill. The Dearborn Rotary Club will again kick off Saturday with its Children's Fishing Derby; and there will be giant inflatable rides, free children's games, and wacky contests “for kids of all ages.” The day will be capped off by headline entertainment at 8:30 p.m. by songwriter and recording artist Kellie Pickler, and spectacular fireworks after the concert.

Pickler, known for hit songs like “Red High Heels,” “I Wonder,” “Things That Never Cross a Man's Mind,” and “Best Days of Your Life,” followed her appearance on American Idol by releasing her debut album “Small Town Girl” under the 19 Recordings/BNA records label in 2006. Pickler has since released three more albums; and received awards from the Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association, Country Music Television, and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

She also partnered with Derek Hough in winning the 16th season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars in 2013. More news and information about Pickler, a full bio, tour dates and more can be found at www.kelliepickler.com. Since 2007, Pickler participated in seven USO tours and 75 USO entertainment events, which the city stated “aligns closely” with its “commitment to honoring and supporting service members and veterans.”

“They say from all accounts that she (Pickler) is a very, very good down-to-earth warm performer, who puts on a good show,” Dearborn Community Fund Executive Director EmmaJean Woodyard said. “It's suitable for anybody, which is very important when you do an event like Homecoming.

“So Eric Peterson, he's the Associate Director of the Recreation Department, he's the one who makes a lot of the selections in terms of the entertainment, so he's very well aware of the kinds of crowds that we get at Homecoming, looking for the right and appropriate performer. So Kellie Pickler Saturday night I think is going to be a really good show—I'm going to go—and then there's a variety, a lot of strolling performers during the weekend, you know clowns and stilt walkers, they're always a lot of fun.

“Of course the big thing on both Saturday and Sunday nights too are the fireworks. How can you go wrong with fireworks, right? They're always good fireworks,” she said.

Blankets (8-by-8-feet or less) can be put on the hill (no stakes allowed) after 8 a.m. Saturday to view the 10 p.m. fireworks. All blankets must be removed after the fireworks by midnight.

Prior to the main event, the Main Stage will feature concerts by Paulina Jayne from 6-6:45 p.m. and Native Run from 7:15-8 p.m., before Dearborn Mayor John B. Reilly Jr. takes the stage with Presenting Sponsor Oakwood Healthcare and Fireworks Sponsor Kenwal Steel at 8:15 p.m. On the Food Court stage, Corndaddy will play from 3-4 p.m., and Junction Groove will play from 5-6 p.m.

The variety in Homecoming's entertainment acts this Saturday afternoon will include the Gordon Russ Fun Family Magic Show taking the Food Court stage from 1-2 p.m., while Da the Clown and Tom Bartholomew's Very Tall Entertainment stroll the grounds from 1-6 p.m. While the Food Court and Community Tents are open from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., many favorite food items will be available for purchase from booths operated by these Dearborn non-profit groups: American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, Dearborn Firefighters Burn Drive, Disabled American Veterans, Edsel Ford High School Adult Athletic Booster Club, Exchange Club and Fordson Varsity Alumni Club.

A variety of food trucks will be returning to the Food Court area at this year's festival. The following food trucks are confirmed for noon-11 p.m. Saturday (additional food trucks may be on hand during the festival):

The Italian American Fraternal Club of Dearborn will serve mostaciolli, sausage sandwich, pizza, gnocchi, cannoli, and pane fritto. The Polish Legion of American Veterans will have stuffed cabbage, pierogi, kielbasa, sauerkraut, potato pancakes and other Polish food. Besides these traditional ethnic dishes, festival-goers can also enjoy entertainment at the Italian and Polish Pavilions, but Woodyard said the information was not in time to be posted in the Homecoming brochure, “so you're in for a surprise.”

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission has directed for 2014 that perimeters be put around four designated areas: the Italian Pavilion (including the picnic area and bocce ball courts), the Polish Pavilion, the American Legion Tent, and the area west of the asphalt between Brady and the covered bridge (including the Main Stage, dining tent, community tent, children's activity field, reunion area, arts area and fireworks viewing area). Visitors cannot buy alcohol at Homecoming except in a designated area, and these drinks have to be all drunk in that designated area and cannot be taken elsewhere through the grounds.

The Dearborn Rotary Club will hold the Free Fishing Derby at Ford Field Pond from 8-11 a.m. Saturday. Parents are instructed to bring their children to Ford Field Park, where poles and worms will be provided (parking at Ford Field is free prior to 11 a.m.).

Starting at noon, free “gentle” carnival-style games for children are sponsored by Village Community Credit Union until 5 p.m. Also taking place on the children's activity field starting at noon will be the free giant inflatable rides sponsored by Nickel & Saph Inc., which will have the children bouncing until 8 p.m.

The other Saturday-Sunday events happening on the Children's Activity Field will be the wacky games for all ages until 7 p.m. The contests taking place Saturday: marshmallow throwing (11 a.m.), balloon blowing (noon), apple sauce slurping (1 p.m.), Kick the Shoe (3 p.m.), hula hoop (4 p.m.), and pie eating (6 p.m.).

A children's activity tent by the Dearborn Community Arts Council will be included in the Art Area, opening on the top of the hill from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. In the two other main tents, Henry Ford Community College ceramics will have demonstrations and pieces for sale, and the Detroit Institute of Arts returns for its second year. Home Depot will drop by from noon-2 p.m. to provide a free kids wood workshop.

There will also be about 14 artisans dealing food, tea, candle making, soap making, jewelry and hand-made furniture, according to Woodyard, and the Dearborn Historical Museum will have items for sale. The Living History Hill will also open in the circle from 11-8 p.m., with re-enactors performing swordsmanship demonstrations at 1 p.m and 3:30 p.m., firearms demonstrations at 1:45 p.m. and 4 p.m., and recruiting at 2:15 p.m.

“They do some fun stuff, they cook (in the frontier kitchen) and give out samples of the pie,” Woodyard said. “It's fun.”

The Oakwood Healthcare Wellness Tent will offer free blood pressure checks, a nutrition information booth, and interactive healthy-eating activities from noon-4 p.m. each day. Oakwood will also operate an Access to Care information table with Healthy Michigan Plan until 6 p.m.

This new tent will be in addition to Oakwood's existing tents for providing first aid, and for providing a cooling station, “which is a form of entertainment for kids. For many people, if it's really hot, they like to run through it to cool down in the misting tent,” she said.

Friends of the Rouge will also operate an interactive display from noon-8 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. The display will demonstrate for visitors how pollutants end up in bodies of water.

Another family activity opening all day Saturday are the high school reunion picnics. Alumni from Dearborn, Edsel Ford and Sacred Heart High Schools will take over the picnic area on Saturday, and there will also be a Camp Dearborn Youth Counselor Reunion taking place at 3 p.m.

Wade Shows will open the carnival from 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. The full-day wristbands can be purchased for $20, with half-day wristbands ($15) covering the hours of 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Parking rates at Ford Field will be $10 during the festival (coupons will be given to allow a $7 reentry later in the day). An all-day festival rate of $5 will apply Saturday and Sunday in parking lots A-E and H in the west downtown, and $3 after 5 p.m. in the West Village Drive parking decks. There is free parking at Dearborn High School.

Free shuttle service will run from Village Drive between Monroe and Military from 5-8 p.m., and noon-11:30 p.m. from Dearborn High School. The school buses include handicapped-accessible ones.

Visit www.dearborn.org for the complete schedule on Homecoming.

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