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Annual New Year's Fest kicks off its 34th year with 80 shows in downtown Kalamazoo

Posted at 10:11 AM, Dec 31, 2019

Around 1 o’clock Monday afternoon, Deborah Droppers and a few other people were waiting for fire trucks to arrive to Bronson park to help with New Year's Fest preparations. Fire crews were coming to fill up large barrels meant to keep the main tent steady during Tuesday evening’s events.

“It’s a big huge tent that has kids' arts and crafts at the beginning until 8:30 p.m.,” Droppers said during an interview with FOX 17. “Then at 8:30 it turns into a mega-dance tent. And so you can come in and get even warmer by dancing a little bit.”

A pair of fire engines arrived at 2 p.m. Immediately crews jumped out of the vehicles and began pumping water into several barrels while other people raised the tent and made sure its poles were sturdy.

“New Years Fest is 34 years old. Isn’t that amazing?” Droppers said. "It's a performing arts festival specifically designed for all ages. What it does is it features 28 performing artists that repeat their performances.”

In total 80 performances are scheduled for Tuesday night’s New Years Fest which kicks off at 5:30 p.m.

Droppers said there will be comedy shows, mime performances, juggling acts, storytelling, tribute shows and other performances. And they’ll be happening at one of 12 venues around Bronson Park, including the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts, the Radisson Hotel and a few churches.

“What happens is you get nice and warm and toasty inside while you’re enjoying the performances,” she said. “Then you bundle up and you go to the next location.”

Droppers said she encourages attendees to grab brochures ahead of time or check out before heading to the fest. She’s expecting at least 4,000 people to attend and many of them could see a handful of shows before the ball drops at midnight.

“It’s one of the longest standing New Year's Eve celebrations that you know is family-friendly and really designed to celebrate the performing arts,” Droppers said.