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Mid-July means more than blazing hot temperatures, ice cream and the half-way point of summer vacation. It's prime time for everyone's favorite purple flower: lavender.

As lavender comes into bloom this month, at least three lavender festivals are planned this weekend to celebrate, enjoy and harvest this beloved flower known for its soothing properties. 

The 17th annual Michigan Lavender Festival -- now called the Original Michigan Lavender Festival -- kicks off Thursday and runs through Sunday at a new location this year, the Eastern Michigan Fairgrounds in Imlay City. It'll include workshops, seminars, artisans, music and more. 

Its previous location, Blake's Orchard in Armada, meanwhile, will be hosting its own festival, Blake's Lavender Festival, Friday through Saturday. And in Milan, near Ann Arbor, Lavender Lane is hosting its 2019 Lavender Harvest Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

But the soggy spring put a damper on some lavender crops this year. On its website, Lavender Lane notes that this year's festival has "very limited blooms due to polar vortex."

"Eighty percent of fields have been replaced," the website notes.

But what is available will be celebrated. 

Executive Director Jennifer Vasich of the Michigan Lavender Festival said she decided to move her festival to a different venue this year to give it even more room to grow and spread out. This year, free shuttle rides will be offered from the fairgrounds to a nearby 23-acre lavender farm, Indigo Lavender Farms, through the festival weekend so patrons can pick their own lavender.

Vasich said she loves that Michiganders' affinity for lavender is growing.

"I am very proud of my life’s work of starting this festival all to celebrate all the wonders of lavender," she said.  

Blake's Lavender Festival, meanwhile, is a first-time festival in southeast Michigan, though it's at a familiar venue given that Blake's previously hosted Vasich's Lavender Festival. It'll include free classes and demonstrations; lavender-themed DIY make and take workshops; and lavender infused foods and drinks. There will even be lavender field yoga and aroma meditation. 

The 2019 Lavender Harvest Festival, meanwhile, also will include lavender-inspired food and drinks, a petting zoo, and more than 70 artisans and food vendors. There will also be seminars, including how to cook with lavender and how to grow your own.

There's a reason people are drawn to lavender. According to Vasich, it's one of the most widely used, versatile herbs today. It's mostly commonly used for anxiety, depression, insomnia and headaches, but can also be used for exhaustion, sprains, sunburn and burns.

mfeighan@detroitnews.com

Lavender in bloom

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