Sturgis Fest begins with Kick-off Dinner

·5 min read

Sturgis Fest week officially began Tuesday with the 2022 Kick-off Dinner held at Sturges-Young Center for the Arts.

The dinner honored 2022 Sturgis Citizens of the Year, as well as this year’s grand marshals.

Citizens of the Year are Cathi Garn Abbs and Mike Stiles. Grand marshals are Jeff Mullins, Jade Klingler and Ryan Banaszak.

Sturgis vice-mayor Aaron Miller introduced the speakers, stating that the people of Sturgis are the oil that makes the community run. Five superheroes were being celebrated Tuesday, he said. They each have a heart of service and a love for the community, he added.

Garn Abbs and Stiles were presented their awards by State Sen. Kim LaSata and State Rep. Steve Carra.

Garn Abbs said she’s humbled to be named Citizen of the Year. But the award is not for her, she said. Garn Abbs spoke of the many people she’s learned from over the years who have served as good examples for her.

“To all of you who are examples, this is for you, whether I know your names or not,” she said. “Thank you so much.”

Stiles also spoke of his hometown radio station and his community who gave him the chance to do what he’s done for almost 30 years, which some called being “the voice of Sturgis.”

“I’m very rarely at a loss for words,” Stiles said about receiving the honor. “This is something I never would have expected. I appreciate this more than you will ever know.”

Mayor Mullins said there’s no place he’d rather call home than Sturgis. He said at first he was reluctant to accept being a grand marshal this year, until Sturgis Chamber executive director Roxanne Persing explained the reasoning.

“She explained that, basically, the last couple of years have taken their toll,” Mullins said. “In some way, everyone in this town is a hero because of the perseverance they’ve shown in making it through all of this. We’ve all banned together and helped one another out. All of us here are heroes whether we know if or not.”

So, Mullins said, Klingler represents healthcare, Banaszak represents public safety, and he represents the heroes of the general population of Sturgis.

“Once I found out that we were not being celebrated as heroes, but representing everyone as heroes, how could I say no?” Mullins said.

Klingler, of Revolution Health, spoke of lessons learned through the pandemic, like how much we all need community.

“We each have our strengths,” she said. “We each have our weaknesses. Where one weakness ends, another’s strength shines. We are made to work together and lift each other up.”

Klingler talked about wanting to leave Sturgis when she was young, but now called the city a “jewel.” Her dad told her if she didn’t like the place she was at, start making changes, she said.

“One little change can go a long way,” Klingler said. “We all just need to make the next best decision and take the step.”

Banaszak, representing Sturgis Department of Public Safety, talked about his fellow group of professionals.

“Most individuals involved in public safety do not see themselves as heroes,” he said. “They see themselves as someone who is paid to do a job they love, a job that is rewarding and impacts people’s lives.”

Banaszak shared a letter he wrote to employees about a year ago, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You all handled it with grace, compassion, and a willingness to lead into the unknown instead of away from it and for that I am grateful,” he said. “Looking forward, I’m not only excited for the future of our department, but for our role in serving the residents of Sturgis.”

To close the dinner, Persing thanked dinner sponsor Century Bank & Trust, Hip Padders Catering, Sturges-Young Auditorium, and all those who made the night possible. She shared happenings for the rest of Sturgis Fest week.

“Have a wonderful time,” she said of the festival.

At a glance

Sturgis Fest 2022 events:

Thursday, June 23 

Bike Night & Beverage Garden with music by Moon Howler, sponsored by Route 12 Harley Davidson, 5-10 p.m., downtown Sturgis on North Street. Includes: 

  • Beer tent hosted by American Legion (no social district). 

  • Food trucks on Pleasant Street. 

  • Sidewalk sales, noon- 8 p.m., downtown Sturgis. 

  • Adult cornhole tournament, hosted by Sturgis Eagles #1314. Registration at 5 p.m., bags fly at 6 p.m. Cash prizes determined by number of participants. 

  • Poetry Walk, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Thurston Woods Park. Sponsored by Sturgis District Library. 

Friday, June 24 

Car Cruise-In, Hispanic Heritage Celebration & Electric Parade 5-10 p.m. Includes: 

  • Classic car cruise-in, 4-8:30 p.m., downtown Sturgis. 

  • Hispanic Heritage Celebration: Live music and celebration on North Street, 5-8:30 p.m., includes music by Mariachi Nuevo Michoacan, 4:30-6:30 p.m., and Lalo Cura, 6:30-8:30 p.m. 

  • American Legion Post #73 events: beer tent and food and band 6 to 1, 6-8 p.m. 

  • Bounce House on N. Clay Street, sponsored by Freakin’ Sweets. 

  • Electric Night Parade, 9:30 p.m. 

  • Food vendors on Pleasant Street, starting at noon. 

  • Sidewalk sales, noon-8 p.m., downtown Sturgis. 

  • Social district beverages, Wings Etc. 

Saturday, June 25 

All Sports Day 

  • Battle on the Blacktop 3v3 basketball tourney, 9 a.m., Sturgis American Legion. 

  • Volksmarch, 10 a.m.-noon, starts at Sturgis High School and concludes the American Legion. 

  • Softball games, 9 a.m. start, Spence Sports Complex. 

  • Fireworks, dusk, Kirsch Municipal Airport. 

Sunday, June 26 

  • Biscuits vintage baseball game, first pitch at 2 p.m., Sturgis High School. 

Mike Stiles and Cathi Garn Abbs were honored as Citizens of the Year at a Sturgis Fest Kick-off Dinner held Tuesday at Sturges-Young Center for the Arts.
Mike Stiles and Cathi Garn Abbs were honored as Citizens of the Year at a Sturgis Fest Kick-off Dinner held Tuesday at Sturges-Young Center for the Arts.

This article originally appeared on Sturgis Journal: news-Sturgis Fest-Kickoff Dinner-Citizens of the Year-Grand Marshals