A Christmas celebration with music and pageantry, the Boar's Head Festival appears to be an American custom of English origin. Its roots are in the ancient English tradition of slaying a boar for the Christmas feast, roasting the severed head with an apple in its mouth and ceremoniously bearing it into the castle's dining hall so that royalty and guests might admire it and the hunter's prowess.
With the passage of time, the slaying of the boar has come to represent the conquering of evil at the birth of the Christ Child. This pageant displays both the colorful magnificence of the great feast and the simple beauty of the Christmas story.
Sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Churches, the Boar's Head Festival is truly an ecumenical undertaking. Many members of our Island churches make up the 600 people who sing, perform or contribute their skills in the production of the festival by working on sets, costumes, lights, sound, publicity and programs.
Spectators will see and hear a brass ensemble, recorders, handbells, bagpipes, harpsichord, singers, dancers, tumblers, jesters, townspeople and a Christmas story. Musicians include an adult, youth and children's choir of over 100 voices and a 25 piece orchestra.
History of Boar's Head
1980: Josephine Ramage and the Interfaith Council of Churches of Grosse Ile launched the first Grosse Ile Boar's Head Festival. The Islanders theater group were also instrumental in the initial performance that involved about 200 to 300 people. Sacred Heart Catholic Church hosted the original pageant. And the script was rented from the Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church.
1982: The second Boar's Head took place and the 12 Days of Christmas was added to the pageant. Doug Scott became the musical arranger and composer.
1984: The third Boar's Head was performed and King Winsaslaus was added.
1986: King Winsaslaus was removed.
1987: The Interfaith Council and Mrs. Ramage decided the production would occur every four years.
1990: The Boar's Head was performed at Grosse Ile High School. Nothing new was added, however a composition was written called "The Innocents." This piece would be brought to life in 1994.
1992: Josephine Ramage dies of leukemia
1993: Jill Ryan was appointed executive director and producer to succeed the late Josephine Ramage.
1994: Boar's Head is again performed at Grosse Ile High School and "The Innocents" was performed. About 400 to 500 people were involved.
1998: The pageant returns to Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the "The Annuciation" is added as the new piece.
2002: The pageant is performed again at Sacred Heart Church and "The Prophet, Isaiah" is added to tell the prophecy of the coming of the Christ child. The pageant size continues to grow, reaching close to 600 people.
2004: The Grosse Ile Boars' Head Festival incorporates and becomes a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
2006: The song, "There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue" is added to the pageant at the beginning, to tell the story of the young, virtuous maiden Mary, and her destiny of bringing our God to the world in human form, in Jesus, the Rose.
2011: Jewelry Designed for the Queen by Milkins Jewelers of Monroe
2014: Death of Rev. Ted Aller and Rev. Richard J. Milford, whose support was essential in ensuring the success of the Festival since its founding.
2015: A New Drama Director is appointed: Mrs. Krista Ewbank. We celebrated our 35th Anniversary.
2018: Thousands are predicted to attend this wonderful and unique celebration of the birth of our Savior.