Cedar, MI was once a conglomeration of a number of settlements. They were about a mile from one another and were known as Bodus, Schomberg and Isadore. The names came from towns in Poland, from which most of the inhabitants had migrated from. They came to the United States in search of a better life, working in cities around the east and midwest. They earned as much as they could before taking part of the Homestead Act that allowed them to purchase land relatively cheaply.
The first families to settle the area were from Milwaukee and had arrived in 1868. The first generation of farmers had proven the area to be successful, leading a number of more Polish immigrants to move to the area as well. One of the most populated of them was then known as Cedar City, in the Township of Solon. It was named Cedar City for the fact that the area was surrounded by cedar trees.
By 1893 the area had its own post office and was connected to the rest of the world with the railroad. This helped to spur even more growth, encouraging people to immigrate to the area as well as make it their new home in the United States. Another staple was the Cedar State Bank which had opened its doors in 1903. It is one of the few local banks that were able to survive the effects of the Great Depression. It did, however, close its doors in the late 1930s.
Over the years businesses have changed hands a number of times, losing their original status as being Polish owned. Regardless of this, and the shrinking Polish population, the town still considers itself as being Polish in origin. In fact, since 1975 and to this day it hosts the Cedar Polka Festival, which draws people from all over the country. It is what this town is known for and will surely continue to be so in the future.
Cedar is a great little town in the Leelanau County of Michigan. If you are looking for a place to visit that has original culture and that small town charm this place will give you just that. There are small stores that carry on the culture that built the town from a forest to a great place to raise and family and vacation. If you can, make your trip during their annual festival to enjoy the best the culture has to offer.
The Cedar Polka Festival originated from a suggestion. In 1975, a few members of the Polish Legion of American Veterans (PLAV) from Dearborn, Michigan were vacationing in Leelanau County and learned that Cedar was a Polish community. At that point Cedar had not yet organized any public celebration of its Polish heritage. They approached the Chamber of Commerce and suggested a standard heritage festival with Polish music, dancing, and food. The Chamber liked the idea and began organizing their first ever Polish Festival to take place on the evening of Tuesday, August 26, 1975.
The Polka Festival has become a signature event in Leelanau. In 1999, nearly 40,000 people attended from near and far. The Cedar Polka Festival has grown into one of the largest and best events for Polka music and attracts enthusiasts from all over.
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