Bear Lake Days features fun over four days

BEAR LAKE – Crowds of people turned out to celebrate Bear Lake Days this weekend, and one guest made a 1,400 mile trip to join in.

Billy Kempfer of Florida is the descendant of George W. Hopkins, a lumber baron, entrepreneur and one of the early founders of Bear Lake for whom Hopkins Park was named.

He was invited by members of the Bear Lake Area Historical Society to speak on another community his ancestor founded, Hopkins, Florida, now the present-day city of Melbourne.

“I’ve been wanting to get to Bear Lake forever, just never have done it,” Kempfer told dozens in attendance for a presentation held at the Bear Lake School library on Friday. 

Kempfer joked that due to his age and the distance, it would be both the first and last time he’d visit the village.

Kempfer’s great-grandfather arrived in the Manistee area at 22-years-old with about $45 in his pocket, according to historical society vice president Kathy Schafer.

“(With his brother David) they opened started a brick business in Manistee. They…

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