Battle Creek’s signature event returns Saturday when the city celebrates the most important meal of the day during the 63rd National Cereal Festival and Grand Cereal Parade.
The family-friendly festival celebrates Battle Creek’s heritage as the birthplace of the cereal industry by serving community members and visitors a free meal, along with games, live entertainment and vendor options.
“This festival is unique because of the community involvement,” said Ben Randels, general manager of Kellogg Arena and event organizer. “Getting everybody outside to have fun, sort of a kick off of the summer, where people can get free cereal and Pop Tarts. We’re trying to make it bigger and bigger each year.”
Here are five things to know ahead of the event:
What’s the ‘World’s Longest Breakfast Table?’
First held in 1956 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kellogg Co., the Cereal Festival’s marquee attraction is the World’s Longest Breakfast Table. Although not technically the world’s longest breakfast table, the breakfast is free, with enough cereal to feed up to 25,000.
Breakfast will be served from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
In the 1980s, Battle Creek had a back-and-forth competition with Springfield, Massachusetts, for the title of “World’s Longest Breakfast Table.”
Springfield held its first pancake breakfast in 1977 and wrested the title away from the Cereal City in 1986 when it served 24,000. Battle Creek regained the crown that same year by setting a then-benchmark in the Guinness Book of World Records for people fed in a single meal when 25,912 officially sat down to enjoy a meal together.
Start the day with a 5K (or 10K)
In conjunction with the Cereal Festival, the Battle Creek YMCA hosts the Cereal City Classic, a 5K and 10K run/walk. The event is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m., leaving from the YMCA at 182 Capital Avenue Northeast.
The Cereal City Classic serves as the first leg of the Cereal City Stampede, followed by the Binder Park Zoo Cheetah Chase and the Road Hawg Baja Bolt 5K and 10K. Participants of all three events will receive a Cereal City Stampede T-shirt. Prizes will also be awarded to the best combined times for all three events.
Cost to participate in the Cereal City Classic is $30 and includes a T-shirt. All proceeds go towards programming aimed at fighting childhood obesity. To register, visit runsignup.com.
Though the breakfast concludes at 11 a.m., the festival continues through 12:30 p.m. with an assortment of entertainment and activities.
Among them is the chance to get up close to some of the animal ambassadors from Binder Park Zoo through the traveling Zoomobile.
Children will be able to test their climbing skills on giant inflatables near Festival Market Square and can even mimic some four-legged friends by trying their hand inside a giant hamster ball.
Families will also enjoy free train rides, made possible through the Battle Creek Regional History Museum.
Enjoy Beer for Breakfast and an American Idol contestant
There will be an eclectic mix of musicians at Festival Market Square, including the band Beer for Breakfast. The group is a staple of the Michigan festival circuit, playing a mix of classic and hard rock as well a few dance numbers.
Also taking the stage will be Macy Krew, a Byron Center-born country/pop singer who reached Hollywood Week on season 16 of the ABC show “American Idol” in 2018.
New parade route
The Grand Cereal Parade follows the festival at 1 p.m.
A new parade route was set to be unveiled in 2018 before rain forced it to be canceled. This year, it starts at the Kool Family Center and heads down Van Buren St. before ending on Capital Ave.
Nick Buckley can be reached at email@example.com or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley
NATIONAL CEREAL FESTIVAL
• What: World’s Longest Breakfast Table
• When: Saturday, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
• Where: Downtown Battle Creek, McCamly St. and Jackson St.
CEREAL CITY CLASSIC 5K/10K
• What: 5K/10K run walk
• When: Saturday, 8:30 a.m.
• Where: Battle Creek YMCA, 182 Capital Avenue Northeast
• Cost: $30
GRAND CEREAL PARADE
• When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
• Where: Van Buren Street to Capital Ave. (begins at Kool Family Center)
• Cost: Free
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