July 10, 2014 at 1:00 am

Michigan Lavender Festival expects thousands of well-wishers

Lavender is one of nature's most versatile herbs. (Michigan Lavender Festival)

Lavender isn’t just a pretty purple herb that smells good. It has vast healing properties, says local wellness educator Jennifer Vasich.

“Thousands of studies have shown that lavender has a therapeutic effect on the mind, body and spirit,” says Vasich, founder and creative director of the Michigan Lavender Festival, which kicks off Friday.

“We live in this very fast-paced world. People are stressed all the time, and lavender gives them a reprieve.”

No wonder why the Lavender Festival continues to grow. Twelve years after it started, the festival at Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill in Armada is expected to draw as many as 7,000 people this year.

Sponsored by Whole Foods, the festival will feature 110 vendors selling Michigan-made products, including oils, art, body products, food and home decor.

Among the biggest draws are the free wellness classes and workshops on everything from growing lavender to juicing and green cleaning. A local artist will offer a painting class using lavender-infused paints.

New this year is a kids’ activities tent with do-it-yourself activities, including making birdhouses.

“There are a lot of great things happening,” says Vasich, who is also an aromatherapist. “It continues to grow exponentially.”

Lavender — which Vasich refers to as the “grandmother of all herbs” — is one of the most widely used, versatile herbs today, she says. It’s mostly commonly used for anxiety, depression, insomnia and headaches, but can also be used for exhaustion, sprains, sunburn and burns.

“People feel drawn to it,” says Vasich, who also owns the Natural Path in Utica, where she and her team offer classes and workshops.

When Vasich started the festival, a few hundred came. Now, it spans three days and draws thousands. Adding to the soothing environment is a harpist, who will play throughout the weekend.

And another fun DIY twist this year: u-pick lavender. Blake’s planted its own lavender field, and organizers say u-pick lavender will be available, based on supply, on Friday.

Michigan Lavender Festival

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday

Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill

17985 Armada Center, Armada

Admission $5, kids 12 and younger free

(810) 523-9853

michiganlavenderfestival.net

mfeighan@detroitnews.com
(313) 223-4686