Category Archives: Upcoming Events

Good tunes, great food at ‘Music at the Market’, July 19

By Downtown Market GR

Stop by during Music at the Market to enjoy a little after-hours live music!

What’s better than good tunes, great food, and delicious drinks? Aperitivo, Love’s Ice Cream, Rocket Pies, Slows Bar-B-Q, and Social Kitchen & Bar are open late!

On July 19 from 7-9 pm, enjoy live strolling music while soaking in the sun on Downtown Market’s patios.


GVSU to host cyber security groups real-time hacking contest

Cyber security will be at the heart of a program at Grand Valley State University’s downtown campus next week.

By West Michigan Cyber Security Consortium


Much of today’s news seems to include a cybersecurity twist, but how do companies prepare for cyber incidents? They exercise or practice, as the West Michigan Cyber Security Consortium will at Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus’s DeVos Center in Grand Rapids.


The 5th annual WMCSC Cybersecurity Exercise will take place Friday, July 14, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (followed by a Networking reception from 5:30-8 p.m.), at the DeVos Center, 401 Fulton St. W.


The cybersecurity event is free and open to the public, but space is limited and interested attendees should reserve their space by Friday, July 14, by visiting


The day-long exercise will include Purple Teams — typically, cybersecurity teams are Red (offense) or Blue (defense); working together, they are Purple teams. The exercise will use the Michigan Cyber Range’s “Alphaville” virtual devices.


Alphaville, developed by Merit Network in Ann Arbor, is a collection of virtual machines simulating information systems that are networked together and assigned varying security levels modeled on how real towns across the country are configured.  It exists as part of the Michigan Cyber Range, a secure test bed designed to enable cybersecurity attacks and defense methods in a realistic environment without impacting production network traffic.


At the July 14 exercise, nine Purple teams will be challenged to capture, secure and defend email servers, web servers, and file systems, using security and hacking tools comparable to the systems found in most businesses today. They will compete against each other hoping to be crowned the winners for “owning” the most systems for the longest time.


The West Michigan Cyber Security Consortium is a multi-jurisdictional, public/private partnership whose purpose is to enhance the prevention, protection, response, and recovery to cybersecurity threats, disruptions and degradation to critical information technology functions. Its membership includes individuals from government, healthcare, law enforcement and private businesses. The group meets quarterly to share information around cybersecurity issues.


The Michigan Cyber Range prepares cybersecurity professionals to detect, prevent and mitigate cyberattacks in a real-world setting. Like a test track or a firing range, the Michigan Cyber Range enables individuals and organizations to conduct “live fire” exercises: simulations that test the detection and reaction skills of participants in a variety of situations. The Michigan Cyber Range also offers certification courses for a number of cybersecurity disciplines, with instruction available on-site and live online. A full training schedule may be found at the Merit Michigan Cyber Range web site at
The Michigan Cyber Range is hosted and facilitated by Merit Network in partnership with the State of Michigan and with the sponsorship of Consumers Energy and DTE Energy.


Merit Network, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities. Merit owns and operates America’s longest-running regional research and education network. In 1966, Michigan’s public universities created Merit as a shared resource to help meet their common need for networking assistance.


Since its formation, Merit Network has remained on the forefront of research and education networking expertise and services. Merit provides high-performance networking and IT solutions and professional development to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations. For more information visit


Enjoy these FREE events in July 2017!

By Brittany Schlacter, The Rapid


We’ve entered one of Michigan’s most magical seasons. Michigan summers are the perfect time for exploration, new activities and, most importantly, fun! Fortunately for Grand Rapidians and those living in surrounding transit-friendly suburbs, there are a number of outdoor events to ensure you’re able to embrace the sunshine and warmth promised in July. The best part is that all of these events are free to the public.


Whether it’s watching your favorite local band or musician in the park, catching a movie or exploring your local farmer’s market, there are so many reasons to hop on board the bus and let us do the driving to these fun summer events. If you’re looking for the best deal and aren’t a frequent Rapid rider, purchase a 10-Ride Card to use for riding to these events.


The Mainstays play July 13

Enjoy Concerts in Kentwood
On July 13, and 27, ride Routes 2 and 44 to Kentwood City Hall for live music from 7 – 8:30 p.m for the Kentwood City Summer Entertainment Series. The Mainstays will play on the 13th; Look Out Lincoln will be on the 20th; and The Tomas Esparza Blues Band plays on the 27th. This event also features food trucks and more! Grab your blanket or a chair for some Thursday evening fun.


Route 2, 44


Get fit

Every Monday through Thursday, you can find a variety of fitness classes taking place throughout downtown Grand Rapids thanks to the Stay Fit Downtown Class Series. This 9-week program is a joint effort through Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and the City of Grand Rapids Parks & Recreation Department. Free, no-registration classes include Zumba, ballroom dancing, kickboxing and more. Classes take place at Rosa Parks Circle, the Blue Bridge and the JW Marriott Lobby.


Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6+


Listen to Music in Walker

The Standale Summer Concert Series takes place July 13 with Strumble Head and July 27 with Brena Band at Walker Community Park. Music starts playing at 6:30 p.m. and the fun lasts until 8:30 p.m. Ride Routes 12 and 50 to get there, pack a picnic and enjoy a beautiful evening with local tunes!


Route 12, 50


Explore the Market with your Kids
Grab your children and get on board the Silver Line or Routes 1 and 2 to head to the Downtown Market for free fun for kids every week in July. You can expect crafts, educational activities and more! Each week, Kids at the Market has a new theme that your children will love. While you’re there, grab lunch or a snack and do a bit of shopping.


Routes 1, 2, SL


Experience Hands-On Learning at the Museum

Grand Rapids Public Museum is opening their doors for a day of free admission on July 16 from 12–5 pm. Explore all three floors of exhibits and dive into hands-on fun for the whole family. Make a day out of it by riding Routes 7 and 9 and enjoying lunch or dinner at a downtown Grand Rapids eatery.


Routes 1, 2, SL


Groove to Jazz in the Park

Every Monday, ride Routes 7 and 9 to Ah-Nab-Awen Park to enjoy an evening of jazz presented by the West Michigan Jazz Society. Some of this month’s upcoming acts include Metro Jazz Voices, Kevin Jones Band and The Lakeshore Big Band.


Routes 7, 9


Fulton Street Farmers Market

Stock up at Local Farmers Market

How close is your nearest farmers market? There are so many that are transit-friendly throughout Grand Rapids, Grandville, Wyoming and Kentwood! Grab your reusable shopping bags, hop on board the bus and ride to your favorite farmers market to enjoy local produce and goods. You can even ride Route 14 straight to the Fulton Street Farmers Market every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday!


Route 14



Ride The Rapid to ‘Movies in the Park’ this summer!

At Ah-Nab-Awen Park (photo by Steven Depolo)

By Brittany Schlacter, The Rapid


Ride The Rapid Routes 7 and 9 to enjoy an evening in Ah-Nab-Awen Park with movies, games, music, food and so much more!


Movies in the Park is back and better than ever before. If you haven’t been to this bi-weekly summer event at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in downtown Grand Rapids before, make sure to get one of the movie dates on your calendar. It’s the perfect chance to enjoy a budget-friendly evening with your friends or family in one of Grand Rapids’ beautiful riverfront parks. Along with the movies, attendees also have access to games, food trucks, a live DJ and much more before and in between movies.


This year, attendees can watch their favorite movies on a new LED screen. This means that you can now catch a double feature with the first film starting at 7 pm and an additional feature at 9:30 p.m.


Upcoming movies:

July 7

  • –    7 p.m. – Mrs. Doubtfire (PG-13)
  • –    9:30 p.m. – Forrest Gump (PG-13)

July 21

  • –    7 p.m. – The Book of Life (PG)
  • –    9:30 p.m. -Jaws (PG)

August 4

  • –    7 p.m. – Selena (PG)
  • –    9:30 p.m. – The Bodyguard (R)

August 18

  • –    Remember the Titans (PG)
  • –    Pitch Perfect (PG-13)

Some tips for making the most out of this event include getting there early so you can get a great spot, and ride The Rapid or your bike to save money and time with parking. Costumes are encouraged for children and adults. For those 21+, bring your own alcoholic beverages and photo ID so you can enjoy them during the event.


Grand Rapids Public Museum to host free day in July

By Kate Moore, Grand Rapids Public Museum


The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) will open its doors free of charge on Sunday, July 16 from 12-5 pm. Visitors will receive free general admission on this day to explore the Museum’s three floors of core exhibits.


The GRPM offers fun, hands-on learning opportunities for all ages through a variety of core and traveling exhibits. Visitor favorites include the Streets of Old Grand Rapids, an immersive exhibit that transports visitors back to 19th century of downtown Grand Rapids, and West Michigan Habitats, that showcases the vast wildlife found in West Michigan.


“We are excited to be able to offer the community the chance to explore the Museum free of charge again this year,” said Kate Moore, Vice President of Marketing and PR at the GRPM. “The GRPM continues to be the West Michigan hub for hands-on science, history and cultural education, and continue to increase access to the Collections for all.”


Additional experiences for visitors include Mindbender Mansion, planetarium shows and the Museum’s 1928 Spillman Carousel, that are available for an additional charge.


For more information on the event, visit


Mindbender Mansion

Visitors to Mindbender Mansion are greeted by the wacky Mr. E., master brainteaser and puzzler extraordinaire to explain the mysteries of Mindbender Mansion, then set out to gather hidden clues and secret passwords.


Throughout the exhibit visitors will find a combination of tabletop brainteasers they can solve on their own and larger group challenges that require assistance from their fellow mansion guests.


Upon completing each of the select brainteasers and group challenges, visitors will see if they gathered the necessary clues and passwords to become a member of the Mindbender Society and add their portrait to the “Wall of Fame.”


Admission to Mindbender Mansion on the free day will be $2 per person and free to Museum members.


Mindbender Mansion was produced and is toured by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland, Oregon © 2009.


Museum members receive free admission to all current offerings at the Museum.

‘Summer in the Studio’ series at the SCA begins with Elden Kelly, July 10

Elden Kelly (photo supplied)

By Angela Peavey, Saugatuck Center for the Arts

The Saugatuck Center for the Arts (400 Culver St.) kicks off its Summer in the Studio concert series with guitarist Elden Kelly. Kelly will perform July 10 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available at, 269.857.2399, or by visiting the box office.

Elden Kelly is an improviser, bandleader, guitarist, composer and singer-songwriter. He is known for a type of classically influenced jazz and world music. Of a live performance, reviewer Lawrence Cosentino wrote, “He meandered from the Ganges to Delta blues, bluegrass, flamenco and a folk idiom so heartfelt it bordered on the devotional.”

After graduating from Boston’s prestigious New England Conservatory of Music with a degree in Contemporary Improvisation in 2008, Kelly accepted a full scholarship and teaching assistantship at Michigan State with Rodney Whitaker, earning a graduate degree in 2011 in Ethnomusicology.

Today Kelly’s sound is  influenced by genres such as jazz, neoclassicism, American Roots, Hindustani and Turkish music. Kelly is also known for playing the glissentar, an 11-string fretless guitar.

“The music I play on the fretless guitar is a combination of Indian music, Turkish music, and roots music, so I call it ‘Indo-Turkish Bluegrass’,” Kelly said.

Kelly processes a voice akin to Jeff Buckley, and technique that is the guitarists envy. But Kelly says he isn’t limited to just one genre such as folk. Instead he has experimented and blended many genres throughout his career to create his own powerful sound.

The Summer in the Studio series is an intimate, living room-style series hosted by the SCA. The next artist to be featured is Danika & the Jeb, a guitar and vocal duo who provide a unique blend of acoustic pop music.


‘Curiosity Labs’ continue this summer at the Grand Rapids Public Museum

Participate in hands-on learning for both families & kids!

By Kate Moore, Grand Rapids Public Museum


Curiosity Labs will continue this summer at the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) as part of their ongoing science programming, making science accessible and fun for children and families. Curiosity Labs take place once per month on Saturdays and change focus each time.


July’s Curiosity Labs will focus on Mystery Solving Science, and will take place on Saturday, July 22. Participants can help the Museum solve mysteries using science! Learn to think like a scientist and conduct two hands on experiments. In this lab, kids will search clues to find out who stole a missing artifact from the Museum’s Collections, using hands-on scientific techniques.


On August 12, visitors can learn more about food in the What’s in My Garden? Lab. Are you interested in the food we eat and where it comes from? In this Curiosity Lab, kids will be hands-on learning about gardens, from how to care and harvest, down to what is in the soil that helps plants grow. Kids will prepare their own snack using some of the vegetables from the Museum’s urban garden. This lab will partially take place outside, weather permitting.


Labs take place at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on their scheduled date. Labs are designed for children to work alone or to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. It is recommended children 8 and under have a parent or guardian with them. Tickets can be purchased at or by clicking here.


“This is a great way for kids and families to learn together about science!” said Dr. Stephanie Ogren, the Museum’s Science Director. “These special lab experiences were designed after our successful weekly ongoing science programs, Science Tuesdays. At the Museum our goal is to make science accessible to all learners.”

Additional Summer Family Programming at the GRPM

Camp Curious

Additional experiences at the Grand Rapids Public Museum this summer include Camp Curious summer camps that explore the wonders of science, history, culture, art and fun. For 9 weeks this summer, kids age 4-14 can use the Museum as a learning lab in a variety of camp themes.


Camp Curious runs through August 14 with various sessions available depending on age and interest. Discounts are available for enrollment in multiple camps and by registering multiple campers. Additionally, Museum members receive discounts off each camp.


Camp Curious offers sessions with a focus on a variety of themes from space exploration to building with Legos®, and from fossils to exploring what it was like to grow up in the Victorian Era. Camp options vary for each age group and are suited to their interest. Age groupings are 4-5 years old, 6-8 years old, 9-11 years old and 12-14 years old. To register and to learn more about Camp Curious, visit or call 616.929.1700.


Special Exhibits — Creatures of Light & Mindbender Mansion

In Creatures of Light visitors will move through a series of luminous environments, from the familiar mushrooms on land to the extreme in the deepest parts of the ocean, to explore the diversity of organisms that glow and how they do it. Visitors will discover the ways in which light is used to attract a mate, lure unsuspecting prey and defend against a predator, and to learn how, where and why scientists study this amazing natural phenomenon. Creatures of Light is open through July 9.


In Mindbender Mansion, families will enjoy exercising their minds as they try to master each of the 40 individual brain teasers and the 5 group activities in this fun and unconventional new exhibit. Visitors to Mindbender Mansion will be greeted by the wacky Mr. E., master brainteaser and puzzler extraordinaire to explain the mysteries of Mindbender Mansion, then will set out to gather hidden clues and secret passwords. Upon completing each of the select brainteasers and group challenges, visitors will see if they gathered the necessary clues and passwords to become a member of the Mindbender Society and add their portrait to the “Wall of Fame.”  Mindbender Mansion is open through September 3.


For more information, please visit


Science Tuesdays

Science Tuesdays is an ongoing educational experience, offering science programming based on changing themes each month. Science Tuesdays take place throughout the day every Tuesday at the Museum and include a variety of activities and interactive displays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


July will focus on amazing explosions, and will teach about the minerals responsible for the fantastic colors in firework displays. Participants will learn about exothermic and endothermic chemical reactions through demonstrations and quick experiments.


August Science Tuesdays will focus on food. Learn about where the food we eat comes from. Visitors can discuss large scale agricultural science as well as community gardening. Museum artifacts will feature historical food-making devices and utensils to emphasize the relationship between food and culture.


For more information on Museum programming and exhibits, please visit


‘Grandwich 2017’ is here — help pick the best Grandwich in the City!

By C. Davis


Get out there and eat — and vote for your favorite Grandwich!


The Grandwich competition is a battle between area restaurants, delis, cafes, bakeries, etc. to create a sandwich that earns the title sandwich of the year for Grand Rapids, or “Grandwich”. Each participating business creates their version of what the Grandwich should be. It doesn’t have to be a savory, lunch time food. It can be a breakfast sandwich, a dessert sandwich. You get the idea.


Here’s how it works: Participating businesses put their sandwiches on their menus and the public goes to each establishment and vote on their favorite sandwiches. The top 10 sandwiches will go on to a judging event where a panel of judges will determine the winning sandwich.


This year’s Grandwich public vote runs from July 5th thru July 21st. The top ten finalists will be announced on the Grandwich website and social media outlets on July 24th. The competition will conclude with the third annual judges tour of the top ten restaurants on July 27th.

2017 Official Grandwich Particpants:

  • 7 Monks Taproom
  • Anna’s House
  • Blue Dog Tavern
  • Brick and porter
  • Cheshire Kitchen
  • Crepes by the Lakes
  • Dad’s Classic Grill
  • Elk Brewing LLC
  • Fishlads of Grand Rapids
  • Flat Landers
  • Furniture City Creamery
  • GP Sports @ Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
  • Grand Rapids Brewing Company
  • Grand Woods Lounge
  • Hopcat Grand Rapids
  • Long Road Distillers
  • Matchbox Diner and Drinks
  • Mazo
  • Peppinos Pizzeria and Sports Grille
  • Rockwell Republic
  • San Chez Bistro
  • Slows BBQ
  • Social Kitchen & Bar
  • Stella’s Lounge
  • Sub Shack
  • Tavern on The Square
  • Terra GR
  • The B.O.B.
  • The Bull’s Head Tavern
  • The Holiday Bar
  • The Knickerbocker New Holland Brewing Co
  • Two Scotts Barbecue
  • Wheelhouse

How it all started

In 2011, Nicole Infante first presented the idea for Grandwich at a 5×5 Night competition. Since then, this sandwich competition has grown with support from local organizations who wanted to help make Infante’s concept a reality. Over 50 different businesses have competed in the competition’s six years of existence, many returning year after year to take their shot at the “Grandwich Winner” title.




Senator Stabenow will join ‘All Hands on Deck’ event in Grand Haven on July 3

By Nirmeen Fahmy

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force, will join community members at the Grand Haven State Park on MONDAY, July 3 for the ‘All Hands on Deck’ Great Lakes event. This event is one of 64 local events happening in communities and at public beaches in six different states to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our Great Lakes and funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.


Whether on a beach, a boardwalk, a marine channel, or any other location, all locations for All Hands On Deck represent common ground that extends beyond political and geographical boundaries. In every area, the Great Lakes are essential to the environment, economy, and everyone’s way of life. The event is a way to come together in a unique, unified expression of concern on behalf of a precious resource that needs continuing attention and support — funding, regulations, and research — to sustain long-term vitality.

All Hands on Deck was started by Kimberly Simon of Charlevoix in March, 2017 to raise awareness and bring people together in a nonpartisan way to advocate for our Great Lakes. For more information, visit
  • When:     Monday, July 3rd at 10:00 AM
  • Where:    Grand Haven State Park, 1001 S. Harbor Dr., Grand Haven
  • Who:        U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow


West Michigan Tourist Association kicks off Annual Photo Contest

By Jeremy Witt, West Michigan Tourist Association


Get out your cameras and start making pictures — it’s time for the 2017 West Michigan Photo Contest! The West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA) is looking for traveler photo submissions from all around West Michigan, which includes the entire west side of Michigan from the Indiana border to Mackinac Island and into the Upper Peninsula.


All photo entries must be received by July 31, 2017, for public voting by WMTA’s Facebook audience. All winning photos will be featured in WMTA’s upcoming West Michigan Carefree Travel Guide, printed in January of 2018. The first-place photo will also be featured on the cover of the Guide.


Additional prizes awarded to the top three photos include items from Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park (Grand Rapids), Indigo Bluffs Resort RV Site (Empire), Lewis Farms (New Era), Electric Bike Place (Grand Haven) and Michigan’s Adventure (Muskegon).


The accepted photo formats are high-resolution (300 dpi+) jpeg or tiff. CMYK is preferred. Email your submissions to and include your full name, the city that the photograph was taken, and a short description of the photo. Submit one photo per email; multiple entries per person are allowed.


For full contest rules, go here.


Great Lakes Pastel Society Juried Exhibition draws a vibrant crowd

By Jeremy Witt, West Michigan Tourist Association

Experience the remarkable textures, range of color, and immediacy of 49 pastel works at The Great Lakes Pastel Society Juried Member Exhibition currently on display at the South Haven Center for the Arts. The exhibition, co-chaired by GLPS member artists Mary Ann Pals and Jim Henke, opened on May 26 and runs through July 8, 2017.


Award-winning master pastel artist William Schneider juried the exhibition and prizes were awarded at the opening reception on May 26. Edward Kennedy of Saline, MI won the Gold Award for Western Pastures; the Silver Award went to Susan Perrish of Livonia, MI, for The Mentor; and Barbara Wise of Ann Arbor won the Bronze Award for her piece, Sleeping with Nutmeg.


Gold award winner Edward Kennedy is a self-taught artist and has exhibited his artwork at the Butler Institute of American Art. His piece, Winter’s First, was featured in the February 2017 issue of the Pastel Journal. Inspired by pastel artist Albert Handell, Kennedy sketches daily and continues to expand his understanding of color, values and edges to create his works of art.


Silver award winner Susan Perrish has been working in pastels since 2014, using small sticks of vibrant color to capture the unique story of each of her subjects. “I’ve found jewels in every painting, every drawing I’ve done. It is all joy.” Susan has exhibited in numerous shows and is the recipient of many awards for her work.


Upon retirement, Bronze award winner Barbara Wise began to seriously put her artistic talent to work and has won numerous awards. Of her work Barbara said, “I have always been particularly fascinated by the uniqueness of individual people, and the nuances of form and expression that enable that to be captured in a work of art. With very little exception, my art is portraiture.”


Melody Allen of Kalamazoo, MI, Laurel Kuehl of Portage, MI, and Louise Pond of Kewadin, MI received Merit Awards for their pieces Golden Pears, Take Wing, and The Faithful, respectively. And Mary Ann Pals of Chesterton, IN received the Terry Ludwig Pastels Award for her piece, Dancers from the Deep.


SHCA Executive Director Thea Grigsby commented that, “These are exceptionally professional and beautiful works of art. We’re amazed at the affordability of the artwork created by the Great Lakes Pastel Society and hope people will consider purchasing one of these wonderful pastel paintings.”


Juror William Schneider will present a live pastel portrait demonstration at the exhibit’s closing reception, Saturday, July 8 from 1-4 pm. William trained at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, is a member of the International Association of Pastel Societies’ Master Circle, and has won numerous awards for his artwork. The event is $5 at the door and SHCA members are free.


For more information visit, email, or call 269.637.1041.

Take 2: Tastes & music at West Michigan breweries, wineries

Beer tasting and live music go together quite well in the summer at local and West Michigan breweries and wineries.

By K.D. Norris


If summer in West Michigan means anything, it is day-trips on sunny days to taste some brews (or other beverage of choice) and listen to some music. And local breweries and wineries are among the best places to do so.


Following is the latest of an ever-changing list of some summer offerings, in kind-of near-to-far listing:


Sparta has two concerts planned for their Concerts in Rogers Park series, scheduled for Wednesday June 21 and June 28 — and, just in case you did not know, Sparta’s Cellar Brewing Company this year moved downtown and expanded, and it has nights of music as well. For more information visit


The Downtown Market in Grand Rapids will host its Music at the Market series with music planned Thursday, June 22, July 19, and Aug. 16. from 7-9 p.m. — not only will there be food selections galore but remember that Aperitivo has great Michigan (and elsewhere) wines. For more information visit


The Arcadia Brewing Company’s Riversedge Summer Music Festival Series in Kalamazoo, will host festivals on Saturday, June 24, as well as on July 22, Aug. 12, and Sept. 16. Tickets are $10 per event or $30 for all four. Children and young adults (under 20) are free to attend. For more information visit


Bell’s Brewery’s Beer Garden music also started in June and will continue into September. Bells garden in downtown Kalamazoo will host music acts including Billy Strings, Drive-by-Truckers, Raekwon (Wu-Tang Clan), The Verve Pipe, and The New Pornographers. For more information visit


Virtue Cider in Fennville is hosting live music throughout the summer. With their new lawn seating and new outdoor stage, the venue has a full season of entertainment planned — and great cider. For more information visit


Round Barn Winery in Baroda has outdoor music all summer long, including Barodeo on July 15-16 and Makers Market on July 29-30. Each event features music acts from across the state, wine and food. For more information visit


And, late in the summer, will be maybe the “Mother of All” brew and music events in West Michigan, the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Fest, featuring a variety of breweries, cideries, meaderies, and wineries on Aug.11-12. For more information visit


SCA kicks off 15th theatre season with ‘Memphis: The Musical’

By Angela Peavey, Saugatuck Center for the Arts

Celebrate 15 years of theatre with Mason Street Warehouse at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts (400 Culver St., Saugatuck). The Tony Award-winning Memphis: the Musical opens the season and runs June 23–July 9. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at, by calling 269.857.2399, or at the box office.

Memphis: the Musical bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs, and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. Inspired by actual events, Memphis is set in the places where rock and roll was born — underground nightclubs, radio stations, and recording studios of the 1950s. Romance sparks between a white radio DJ who wants to change the world, and a black club singer who is ready for her big break.

“We’re very excited to celebrate our 15th Anniversary season with the largest production in Mason Street’s history,” said SCA Executive Director Kristin Armstrong. “Memphis has a cast of nineteen, and we’ve brought incredible professional talent from New York City, Chicago, and across the country home to West Michigan for the production.”

Lindsay Roberts plays the lead role of Felicia for Memphis: the Musical. She made her Broadway National Tour debut starring as Felicia, and reprises the role for Mason Street Warehouse. Roberts’ Broadway credits include the role of Creole Love Call in After Midnight.

David R. Gordon plays the other lead: Huey Calhoun. The actor, who hails from Los Angeles, played the role of Roger in Flashdance the Musical during its first national tour.

Mason Street Artistic Director Kurt Stamm says that while the show is set in the 1950s, the story’s themes are fresh and relevant. The lead character Huey Calhoun is loosely based on the late Memphis DJ “Daddy-O” Dewey Phillips — who gained a devoted multi-racial following by boldly spinning a mix of country, rhythm and blues, and the new rock ‘n’ roll on his Red,
Hot & Blue radio show through most of the 1950s. And the message of Memphis, The Musical is the power music has to unite people across seemingly unbridgeable divisions.”

Mason Street Warehouse’s 15th anniversary season continues with:

Fully Committed (July 21 – August 6). You think you’re having a bad day? Meet Sam. He works the red‐hot reservation line at one of New York’s trendiest restaurants, where the best food inspires the worst behavior. Coercion, petty threats, bribes, histrionics—a cast of desperate callers will stop at nothing to land a prime reservation, or the right table. Amid the barrage, Sam has his own problems to deal with. While juggling scheming socialites, name‐dropping wannabes, fickle celebrities and egomaniacal bosses, can he still manage to look out for himself? Fully Committed serves up a delicious helping of juicy schemes and hilarious characters that will have you laughing out loud.

It Shoulda Been You (Aug 18– Sept 3). It Shoulda Been You invites you to a wedding day you’ll never forget, where anything that can go wrong does, and love pops up in mysterious places. The bride is Jewish. The groom is Catholic. Her mother is a force of nature, his mother is a tempest in a cocktail shaker. And when the bride’s ex-boyfriend shows up, the perfect wedding starts to unravel faster than you can whistle Here Comes the Bride. Plots are hatched, pacts are made, secrets exposed – and the sister of the bride is left to turn a tangled mess into happily ever after. Get ready to make a toast to the funniest wedding you’ve ever attended!


Aargh, matey! ‘Pirate Chaser Sails’ return to Lake Michigan

‘Friends Good Will’

By Ashley M. Deming, Michigan Maritime Museum


During the summer months, special “Pirate Chaser Adventure Sails” are scheduled on the tall ship Friends Good Will which are geared towards children, Wednesday through Saturday at 11 am*. The crew briefs the young recruits on operations and procedures that will insure not only the sighting of pirates, but also the capturing of the scoundrels and, in the tradition of the buccaneers, sharing in their loot. Never has so much adventure been packed into one 90-minute sail. For details and reservations call 269.637.8078 or purchase tickets online. *Pirate Chaser Sails also available on Tuesdays during the month of July.

How to Catch a Pirate

  1. Book passage on a Friends Good Will Pirate Chaser Sail.
  2. Get a dockside sword lesson from our crew to fight off pirates.
  3. Board the tall ship Friends Good Will with your fellow recruits, cast off the dock, and follow the Black River into Lake Michigan…then hoist the sails high.
  4. Look for pirates.
  5. Upon sighting, fire a warning shot over their bow, overtake their ship… if the pirates attack, repel them with gusto.
  6. Capture the scoundrels, recover our treasure, and sail for home to divide the spoils.


  • Sails open to children 4 years and up. No exceptions.
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Tariff: $37 per person.
  • 90-minute Pirate Chaser Sails will take place on Lake Michigan.
  • Go/No Go weather decisions at sole discretion of the Captain.
  • In the event of inclement weather, fares will be refunded or credited to a future sail.
  • Fun for the whole family!

See the Friends Good Will schedule for sail times.



GVSU to host teen entrepreneur camp June 19-23

Photo supplied

By Dottie Barnes, Grand Valley State University


About 45 high school students from 21 schools across the West Michigan area will spend a week at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), immersed in the world of entrepreneurship to learn about creating a startup company.


The 11th annual Teen Entrepreneur Summer Academy (TESA) is hosted by the Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship (CEI) in the Seidman College of Business and sponsored by Amway. Amway employees help mentor and coach the student teams throughout the week.


The teen academy, designed for students grades 9-12, includes interactive lectures, team-building activities, hands-on research, field trips, networking with local entrepreneurs and strategic planning for personal aspirations.


On the final day of camp, students will pitch their idea to a panel of local business professionals for a chance to win cash prizes totaling $5,000.

  • What: Teen Entrepreneur Summer Academy
  • When: June 19-23, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Where: L. William Seidman Center, 50 Front Ave., Pew Grand Rapids Campus

* Idea presentations and awards will take place June 23, 2-5 p.m.


“Exposure to entrepreneurship education, especially starting early in K-12, can have a lasting impact on students’ lifelong learning and career paths,” said Shorouq Almallah, CEI director. “While TESA is focused on recognizing business opportunity and starting a new business, in a broader sense, TESA helps high school students to develop entrepreneurial attitudes and experiences that meet the needs of the growing knowledge economy.”


For more information, contact the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Grand Valley at or 616.331.7582.

Local First presents ‘Measure What Matters’ workshop June 21

By Local First


Grab a beer and join the equity and inclusion conversation! The next Measure What Matters workshop will explore the importance of viewing our local economy through an inclusive lens. This workshop will host a discussion focusing on the resources available to build your business, implement access forward principles, and strengthen positive communication between staff. Attendees will walk away with the knowledge to craft an inclusion and equity statement and turn it into a company-wide policy.


Measure What Matters is part of Local First’s ‘Good for Grand Rapids’ initiative that brings together and celebrates companies using business as a force for good. These companies have a demonstrated commitment to positive environmental and social change in Grand Rapids and beyond by creating high-quality jobs, stronger communities and a healthier Great Lakes region. The initiative offers resources and best practices for sustainability and social good.


Companies — of all sizes and all industries — are encouraged to see how they stack up against other businesses in the nation and determine how much good they do for the local economy by using an online Quick Impact Assessment tool here. It takes 30-60 minutes to complete.

Measure What Matters Workshop

When:  Wednesday, June 21 — 3-5 pm

Where:  LINC UP, 1167 Madison Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI

Price: $10 (Local First Members)-$15 (Nonmembers)




Hack the QIA! Local First will also be available to help attendees through the QIA — bring your laptop or mobile device!


Paul Doyle, Inclusive Performance Strategies


Jill Vyn and Chris Smit, DisArt
Topic: Creating access forward principles in small business


Dawn Helou, HR Director, Gordon Food Service
Topic: Written policies, how to enforce and encourage conversation amongst staff


Paul Doyle, Inclusive Performance Strategies
Topic: Creating an Inclusion and Equity statement for your business


Breannah Alexander, Partners for a Racism Free Community
Topic: Taking it steps beyond an equity and inclusion statement — creating company-wide policy.




WKTV 25 to air ‘People’s History: LGBTQ in Grand Rapids’ June 14th & 17th

By Victoria Mullen, WKTV


June is Gay Pride Month, and to commemorate the end of the June 1969 Stonewall riots, WKTV will air a special documentary, People’s History: LGBTQ in Grand Rapids on WKTV 25 on Wednesday, June 14 at 12 p.m. and Saturday, June 17 at 6:30 p.m.


The Stonewall Riots precipitated the gay rights movement around the world.


Produced by Girbe Eefsting and Thomas Henry in 2011, People’s History: LGBTQ in Grand Rapids runs 1 hour, 42 minutes and includes material culled from over 70 interviews conducted by Jeff Smith. The full interviews are archived at the Milt Ford LGBT Center at Grand Valley State University.


“I can’t say that the documentary will do this for everyone, but it changed my life,” said Eefsting, who was inspired by the stories shared by the interviewees. “It changed my consciousness.


“The first question we asked each person was, ‘How did you come to terms with your sexuality?’ Eefsting said. “And it occurred to me that I never had to ask myself that question.”


The Grand Rapids People’s History Project was inspired by radical historian and author of A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn, who passed away in 2010. It uses the insurgent and radical people’s history approach that Zinn developed and is being continued through the Zinn Education Project.

The first Pride Celebration took place in 1988 in downtown Grand Rapids at the Monroe Amphitheater (now Rosa Parks Circle). Watch footage of that event here.

“I make documentaries to remind people that we have the power to make social change,” said Eesting. “This is evident throughout history.”

The Grand Rapids People’s History Project’s goal is to research and create media that gives voice to the people and movements in Grand Rapids that are often marginalized or ignored by “official” history. It also seeks to provide a context for the struggles against systems of oppression that have denied people basic rights and the opportunity for collective liberation.

Urban artists featured in new summer exhibition at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts


By Taylor Koopman, Saugatuck Center for the Arts


The new summer exhibition, Stories of Us: Transforming Communities Through Art, comes to the Saugatuck Center for the Arts (400 Culver St.). Stories of Us will run from June 10 to September 3, Mondays through Fridays from 9 am-7 pm, and weekends from 10 am-7 pm, with free admission.


Stories of Us features works from four Chicago-based urban artists that create “street art” as well as works for galleries and exhibitions. In the exhibition, artists Rubén Aguirre, Andy Bellomo, Miguel A. Del Real, and Sam Kirk will share their own works, along with a collaborative 3-D installation piece made for the Saugatuck Center for the Arts’ gallery.


“We’re thrilled to welcome this group of incredibly talented young artists to West Michigan,” said SCA Executive Director Kristin Armstrong. “They are all connected by place (Chicago), their roots in graffiti art, and their passion for using art as a means of deep story telling. The four have never done a collaborative show before – we’re very excited to debut their work at the SCA!”


The artists’ exhibition at the SCA features work that encourages unity, and their pieces reveal stories interwoven with optimism and a better understanding of people; their culture, their identity, and their circumstances.


Ruben Aguirre, the Artist in Residence for summer 2017 at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, transitioned from graffiti artist to abstract painter/contemporary muralist. His mural can be seen on buildings and neighborhoods in Chicago as well as Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Puerto Rico, and the Netherlands.


Andy Bellomo is a mixed media artist, using her perspective to transform acrylic, stained glass, repurposed objects, and spray paint into works of art. Bellomo’s pieces have been featured in galleries across the country.


Miguel A. Del Real’s art illustrates mostly black line works contrasted with colorful accents and original designs influenced by pre-Columbian and indigenous patterns, as well as calligraphy and urban art. Del Real has created large-scale public mural installations that can be recognized in Chicago neighborhoods, as well as in Brooklyn, New York and Oaxaca City, Mexico.


Sam Kirk creates paintings and murals using art to provoke people to feel, see or understand things differently. Recognized for her public art and solo shows in Chicago, Kirk has exhibited in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Minneapolis. Kirk is an award-winning artist, and has been commissioned by Guinness, Smirnoff, Ciroc, Rolling Stone Magazine and Proctor & Gamble.


Rubén, Andy, Miguel, and Sam believe art is a transformative tool, each using their art as a means of creating community. Their work encourages unity, and understanding of others’ culture, identity, and circumstances. The art featured in this exhibition serves as a platform for discussion, learning, and human connection in the Saugatuck community in the spirit of creativity and openness to all people.


For information on other SCA programs featuring these artists throughout the summer visit


Stories of Us is sponsored by Bud Baty & Max Matteson, Debra Minton & Terri Osborne, Lori & Keith Hayward, Marlo & Tom Byrne/Barbara Bradley Bakagaar Foundation.


Grand Rapids jazz festival to offer two days of free music, familiar and new

Edye Evans Hyde and the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra will open the annual free GRandJazzFest. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


There will be some new sounds and some familiar sounds dancing around “The Circle” as the GRandJazzFest 2017 returns to Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 19-20.


Jazz will flow from the opening set — the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra with the superb Edye Evans Hyde fronting, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday — to the closing set of Grammy nominated keyboardist Nate Harasim & NILS featuring Brandon Willis, at 7 p.m. on Sunday.


The JazzFest, presented by DTE Energy, is free to the public, with a come-and-go, festival seating format.


Richard Elliot (Supplied/Lori Stoll)

Saxophonist Richard Elliot will headline the festival, with a Saturday night closing set at 8 p.m.


“We’re thrilled to have Richard Elliot headline the sixth annual GRandJazzFest,” Audrey Sundstrom, festival founder, said in supplied material. “He’s a huge name in the jazz and R&B world.”


The Scotland-born, Los Angeles-based, Elliot is one of 11 performers and bands who will play throughout the two-day weekend. The eclectic array of jazz performances includes genres from big band to straight-ahead, from contemporary to Latin-Cuban.


“We have music for everyone,” Sundstrom said. “The great thing about jazz is there are so many types.”


Performers such as the Big band sounds of the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra with Evans Hyde of vocals, and the jazz organ trip of “organissimo”, with Jim Alfredson on the Hammond B3, Larry Barrris on guitar and Randy Marsh on drums, will be pleasingly familiar to local audiences, the festival always opens eyes and ears to something new.


Pianist Nate Harasim will likely be one of those pleasing new sounds for most people.


Nate Harasim, from an album cover.

In addition to three contemporary urban jazz recordings – including 2011’s very well reviewed Rush – Harasim’s work as a composer, keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist earned a Grammy nomination for his work on Dave Koz’s Billboard No. 1 Jazz Album Hello Tomorrow and a 2014 Soul Train nod for Vandell Andrew’s  No. 1 hit “Let’s Ride.” Harasim’s hundreds of stage appearances include performing at President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Ball with best pal Rahn and playing twice at the Dubai International Jazz Festival, according to his website.


For more information on the GRandJazzFest and a complete line-up, see the event’s Facebook page @GRandJazzFest .

Fun things to do with dad on Father’s Day in West Michigan

By Jeremy Witt, West Michigan Tourist Association

Don’t forget that Father’s Day is Sunday, June 18th. This is a day all about celebrating dad. Many West Michigan businesses are hosting special events, discounts, or offers for the dad in all of our lives. No matter their interest, you’ll find something for him here. Give dad the gift of West Michigan this Father’s Day.

Father’s Day in Southern West Michigan

Arcadia Ales in Kalamazoo is hosting a free corn hole tournament on Father’s Day. Come show off your skills, with the winning team receiving bragging rights and beer specials on their next visit.

Father’s Day orders are rolling in at Allen & Sons Woodworking in Linden. Place your order for one of their handcrafted Michigan-shaped chairs, garden planters, or tables. They have plenty of products to choose from, and they even do custom orders if you have something special in mind. Check them out on Facebook, and place your order today to receive it in time for Father’s Day!

Book a stay at the Inn at Harbor Shores in St. Joseph for Father’s Day and add up to four golf rounds with cart per room for only $85. The Harbor Shores Golf Course is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course and hosts, on even years between 2012 and 2024, the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

Celebrate dad with a dinner at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings. The evening’s program will feature information about the full solar eclipse that will move across the United States this August. Richard Bell of the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society will highlight what an eclipse is, where to see the eclipse, and how best to experience it.

Take dad on a fun-filled trip through Coldwater Country. Hop on a historic steam locomotive and make your way from Coldwater to Quincy with an opportunity to get off the train and see the locomotive switch around for your return trip.

The dad in your life will enjoy a Father’s Day weekend in River Country. Kick off the weekend with dinner at one of the area’s many restaurants before you enjoy some time outside canoeing, kayaking, bicycling, hiking, and golfing throughout both Three Rivers and Sturgis.

Visit Henderson Castle in Kalamazoo this Father’s Day for a one-of-a-kind event. The front lawn of the Henderson Castle will be transformed into a Live Chef Action Grill. Chef Moyet will be grilling up all of Dad’s favorites: Ribeye Steak, Foie Gras Burgers, Baby Back Ribs, and Juicy Grilled Chicken. Traditional sides will include Baked Potato, Cole Slaw, Pasta Salad and more! Each table will receive a family style Garden Salad and choice of individual dessert: Apple Pie or Blueberry Pie. Kick off Summer and treat Dad to a very special day!

Take dad out for a golf weekend at Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort in Augusta. They have six courses, making it a prime location for a golf outing. Their newest addition, Stoatin Brae, sports amazing views all around the course and vistas that rival courses across the country.

Father’s Day in Central West Michigan
Art by Avery Seaver, Grade 10, Montague, Mich.

The 39th Annual Arts & Crafts Festival in White Lake is scheduled for Father’s Day weekend, June 17th and 18th. Nearly 75 creative and talented artists come together for the juried art show. Attendees have the opportunity to peruse and purchase an assortment of handmade items including jewelry, paintings, prints, wood furniture, and more. Throughout the weekend, enjoy a lineup of local music artists and food vendors.

The Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park is hosting a Father’s Day special on Sunday, June 18th. Dads climb free with purchase of one regularly priced ticket! This event will book up fast so get your tickets now before it’s too late. Use the code WELOVEDADS for daytime tickets or WELOVEDADSNNIGHT for evening tickets when you book online.

Downtown Market in Grand Rapids wants to help you and your dad have the best neighborhood barbecues this summer. Their Father’s Day Grill Off Class is Sunday, June 18th from 10am to 12:30pm. You’ll be grilling crostini with burrata cheese and grilled flank steak with classic chimichurri and asparagus.

Give dad the gift of live theatre at the Circle Theatre in Grand Rapids! From June 1st to 17th, Neil Simon’s hit Broadway play, Brighton Beach Memoirs, comes to the Circle Theatre! This is a story of a young man with big dreams who always has one eye on the ball and the other on a girl. For music lovers, the Music of Fleetwood Mac comes to the Circle Theatre on Monday, June 5th, followed the next week by Uptown Funk: The Best of the Funkiest on Monday, June 12th.

Pigeon Creek Golf Course in West Olive welcomes all fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers, and more to a Father’s Day weekend celebration. To give thanks to these men, they’re giving dads a free cart rental all weekend long. To receive this offer, mention this West Michigan Tourist Association promotion when booking your tee time.

Bring dad to Ionia for the Wizard of Oz Festival on June 17th. Main Street is transformed into the Yellow Brick Road before your very eyes! As a tribute to the Wizard of Oz, they have planned a full day of fun for everyone. The movie that started it all will be shown at the historic Ionia Theatre. Tickets are priced as they were seventy-eight years ago at just 25 cents per person.

For the Electric Bike Place in Grand Haven, Father’s Day is a time to celebrate all the dads. To help you celebrate, they’re giving dads a buy one, get one half off special for half day rentals on Father’s Day! This means that you can get a rental for dad and receive half off your rental. Spend the day riding through Grand Haven together on these unique electric bikes, a perfect activity for the entire family.

Get the gift of adventure for dad this Father’s Day from MACkite in Grand Haven! Their kiteboarding lesson are a fun and unique gift for any dad that loves being out on the water. During these lessons, dad will be pulled by a kite as long as 19 meters on a board, right on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. Their two day kite school lesson camps are in Muskegon, and are available for Thursday/Friday or Saturday/Sunday lessons.

Bring dad out to Lewis Farm Market in New Era for Father’s Day! Dads will enjoy free admission, an apple cinnamon donut and coffee, all on the house! They will be open at 10am until 5pm, giving you plenty of time to stop by.

Kids camp for free over Father’s Day weekend at both Muskegon KOA Campground and Covert/South Haven KOA Campground. This national promotion has been growing in popularity the past few years thanks to this special offer and the great experiences had by dads and their families.

Hackley & Hume Historic Site

In addition to 16 beautiful golf courses, 23 charter fishing operations, historic ships and Lake Michigan sugar-sand beaches, Muskegon has some wonderful events for you to enjoy with your dad on his special day! The 26th Annual Antique Tractor and Engine Show is June 8th to 10th with tons of events packed into this three-day event. The Civil War Encampment is June 10th to 11th from 8am to 4pm, with skirmishes each day. Each June, the Promo Tours give classic car owners the chance to show off their rides. This year’s event is June 11th from 4pm to 10pm with over 200 classic and antique cars lining Western Avenue. The Muskegon Powerboat Weekend is June 16th to 18th with more than 80 boats on the 65-mile run. Rounding out the events are free tours for dads at the Hackley & Hume Historic Site on June 18th. Pack the month with celebrations for dad in Muskegon!

Mecosta County is the place to be for any dad that loves to fish or golf. The area is not only home to over 100 lakes and smaller streams, they also have the majestic Muskegon River. With 14 locations to purchase a fishing license and places to rent kayaks, tubes, or canoes, the area truly has everything that you need to enjoy a day on the water! The area also has five golf courses for you to choose from. Each course provides its own beautiful scenery and range in difficulty.

Father’s Day in Northern West Michigan
Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Spend time with dad learning about the history of the Mackinac State Historic Parks on Mackinac Island and in Mackinaw City. You can visit five living historical sites, including Fort Mackinac, the Mackinac Art Museum, Colonial Michilimackinac, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, and Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park. Dads will love these incredible historic spots, and you can even purchase discounted admission passes on their website.

Grab your clubs and take dad for a round of golf at one of the four championship courses at Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire. Tight fairways, formidable doglegs, and elevation changes are the perfect challenge for any golfer. You can even have dad try out something new with FootGolf at Shanty Creek’s Summit Golf Course. This hybrid of soccer and golf has you kicking a soccer ball into a 21-inch diameter cup.

Located on Walloon Lake, Hotel Walloon is the perfect place to treat dad. Reserve a spot aboard the relaxing “Tommy’s to Barrel-Back” Sunset Cruise for the whole family. These hour and a half long tours run seven days a week, with snacks and beverages included onboard.

The Bay Harbor Village Hotel in Bay Harbor is the perfect place to stay for Bay Harbor’s 15th Annual In-Water Boat Show. Taking place over Father’s Day weekend, check out all the boats as they come to town from June 16th to 18th.

Wings Over Northern Michigan Airshow

Get your jump on Father’s Day with the Wings Over Northern Michigan Airshow in Gaylord on June 14th. The Canadian jet team will perform only Wednesday evening and will not be present at the weekend show. This is a fantastic mid-week surprise for dad, and is truly an entertaining event for the whole family!

Treat dad to a superior Father’s Day weekend in Marquette. Grab the golf clubs and hit the links at one of the area’s many golf courses. Spend the evening with a cold beverage at brewery or take a walk through a national park and enjoy Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in all of its glory.

Father’s Day is about creating special moments, and the Charlevoix area is a great place to bring dad for a special weekend together. Take dad on a special trip by hiking through their amazing trail system, golfing at any of the five area courses, or kayaking or boating in one of their lakes or rivers. For the adventure seeker, go skydiving, biking the Lake to Lake trail, and explore the Little Traverse Wheelway. There is always an adventure awaiting you in Charlevoix!



‘Dancing with the Stars: Live! – Hot Summer Nights’ comes to Grand Rapids July 27

Season 24 Mirrorball Champion and NFL Running Back Rashad Jennings Joins the Cast of Dancing With The Stars: Live! – Hot Summer Nights

By Hilarie Szarowicz




“Dancing with the Stars” Season 24 winner and NFL running back Rashad Jennings will join his partner, Emma Slater, this summer in ‘Dancing with the Stars: Live! — Hot Summer Nights’. Fans of the show have the opportunity to see the best ballroom dancers in the business perform live in their hometowns with newly added Mirrorball champion Rashad Jennings.


This all-new production showcases every type of ballroom and modern dance seen on ABC’s hit show produced by BBC Worldwide Productions, “Dancing with the Stars,” including sizzling group numbers, steamy duets and over-the-top original pieces choreographed and creatively directed by four-time Emmy©-nominated choreographer Mandy Moore.


Dancing with the Stars: Live! – Hot Summer Nights comes to Grand Rapids on Thursday, July 27, 2017, at 7:30 pm at DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids. Tickets are on sale now at the DeVos Place® and Van Andel Arena® box offices, online at, and charge-by-phone at 1.800.745.3000. Ticket prices are $49.50, $59.50, and $79.50. (Prices are subject to change.)


Captivating audiences across the country, “Dancing with the Stars: Live! – Hot Summer Nights” also features the hottest cast in dance, including Lindsay Arnold, Sharna Burgess, Artem Chigvintsev, Sasha Farber, Keo Motsepe, Gleb Savchenko, Emma Slater, Alan Bersten, Hayley Erbert and Britt Stewart*. Audiences will have the opportunity to experience the professional dancing, exquisite costumes and excitement they see in the ballroom every Monday night live in theaters across America.


“I am super excited to be heading on tour with Dancing with the Stars Live. While the NFL is my #1 priority, I can think of no better way to stay in shape, combined with my intensive football training, until that team calls,” said Jennings.


“Dancing with the Stars: Live! – Hot Summer Nights” is produced by Faculty Productions in association with BBC Worldwide.

Habitat Kent’s 3rd Annual Roosevelt Park Curb Appeal Contest is June 3

A $70,000 Lowe’s Grant to Habitat Kent will support a summer of resident-driven activities

By Luke Ferris, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County

Habitat for Humanity of Kent County and the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association will host a launch party Saturday, June 3rd from 1-3 pm at Cesar Chavez Elementary School for the third annual Roosevelt Park Curb Appeal Contest.

The Curb Appeal Contest is a home beautification contest organized by Habitat Kent in collaboration with the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association in the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood. Participants receive a gift card to Lowe’s at the start of the competition and then compete against their neighbors to improve the exterior of their home. At the end of the contest, prizes are awarded for homes that show the greatest improvement. Organizers plan to engage 160 participants in the contest this year.

The contest kicks off a summer of resident-driven activities and events in the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood supported by a $70,000 grant from Lowe’s to Habitat for Humanity of Kent County. The funding is part of $1.75 million in grants Lowe’s awarded 22 Habitat affiliates across the country to support more than 84 Neighborhood Revitalization projects.

“In the Roosevelt Park neighborhood, the Lowe’s grant will help residents make improvements to their homes, their blocks, and continue bringing their vision for the neighborhood to life,” said BriAnne McKee, executive director of Habitat Kent.

In addition to the Curb Appeal Contest, Lowe’s grant funds will support resident-led neighborhood beautification projects, including first steps and short-term goals for implementing the newly created area specific plan, “Viva la Avenida.” These projects could include creating and hanging new light post banners, creating custom artwork for bus shelters, and painting mini-murals on utility boxes along  Grandville Ave.

The Lowe’s funds will also help launch the first annual neighborhood awards in partnership with the Grandville Avenue Business Association and support a neighborhood ArtPrize venue in partnership with the Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities.

“Lowe’s shares Habitat’s vision that having a safe, stable home helps bring strength, security and pride to families and ultimately communities,” said James Frison, Lowe’s community relations director.

Through Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization approach, Habitat affiliates offer an expanded array of housing services and partner with local residents, housing leaders, community groups and businesses to transform neighborhoods and enhance the quality of life in communities.

A national partner since 2003, Lowe’s has committed more than $63 million to Habitat for Humanity and helped more than 6,500 families improve their living conditions. Each year, Lowe’s provides grants and volunteer assistance to affiliates, supports National Women Build Week and conducts how-to clinics at stores to teach volunteers construction skills.

There’s a West Michigan festival for everyone this summer!

By Jeremy Witt, West Michigan Tourist Association


With summer comes a slew of festivals in West Michigan, each entirely unique and memorable. We’re talking about festivals centered around food, beer, nature, culture, and more throughout the next few months. With festivals nearly every week throughout the Summer, there’s always something right around the corner for you to experience with these West Michigan festivals.

June Festivals in West Michigan

Mecosta County hosts the Barryton Lilac Festival Craft and Vendor Show from June 2nd to 4th. The Lilac Festival is a chance for families to come out and do something fun at a family-friendly event. The festival kicks off with a talent show, pony rides, and a petting zoo, and is in full swing on Saturday with a car show, free-throw shoot out, as well as the vendor and craft show. The festival wraps up on Sunday with a community potluck in the park.


Rockford has two festivals in June that need to be on your schedule. The Rockford Reading Festival is on Saturday, June 3rd. Numerous authors will have booths selling and talking about their books. This is a fun way to scratch your summer reading addiction. From June 9th to 11th, is the 49th Annual Start of Summer Celebration. Food, arts and crafts, free kids activities, carnival rides, beer tents, and more make this a fun event for the whole family to attend. Family fun is always at the center of Rockford’s summer festival lineup.


June is popular in Muskegon with the Antique Tractor and Engine Show from June 8th to 10th, and the White Lake Arts & Crafts Festival on June 17th to 18th.


The National Cereal Fest in Battle Creek is June 9th and 10th, celebrating the birthplace of cereal. The festival kicks off with the Grand Cereal Parade, and continues on the next day with the World’s Longest Breakfast Table.


Celebrate Mackinac Island’s treasured blooms at the Lilac Festival. Running from June 9th to 18th, discover over 100 species of the sweetest smelling lilacs. Festival events abound, including a Dog & Pony Parade, Taste of Mackinac, hayrides, family fun playground, walking tours, artist expos, planting seminars, live music, and more.


Feast of the Strawberry Moon is June 10th and 11th, in Grand Haven. The event includes reenactments, a kids’ day, live entertainment, and more as they explore the middle-ground world that evolved between Europeans and the Native Americans in the Great Lakes Region during the pre-1800 fur trade era.


Grand Haven hosts some of West Michigan’s fan-favorite festivals every summer. The Spring Lake Heritage Festival is June 12th to 17th, and has family fun like no other. The following week is the Grand Haven Art Festival on June 24th and 25th. The event seeks to provide the community and visitors with a unique opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind art, directly from the artists.


River Country is hosting a variety of events all month long. The 61st Annual Three Rivers Water Fest is in downtown Three Rivers on June 15th to 17th, featuring arts and crafts, food vendors, midway, classic car show, live music, parade, fireworks and more. Also in June are the Michigan Hydroplane Boat Races from June 16th to 18th, with small boats made from thin wood strips going 100 miles per hour. June concludes with Sturgis Fest on June 17th to 25th.


Visit Ionia on Saturday June 17th, as Main Street is transformed into the Yellow Brick Road before your very eyes for the annual Wizard of Oz Festival! As a tribute to the Wizard of Oz, they have planned a full day of fun for everyone. From arts and crafts to vintage treasures, vendors will be offering their finest wares. The movie that started it all will be shown at the historic Ionia Theatre, with tickets priced as they were 78 years ago at just 25 cents per person.


Coldwater’s Strawberry Festival is Saturday, June 17th with everything themed like the little red fruit. The festival parade starts at 11am, with more than 150 exciting entries of floats, musical entertainment, motorcades, marching bands, clowns, and acrobats that will keep you entertained for two hours.


Harborfest is South Haven’s annual celebration of the area’s unique maritime history. For 25 years, Harborfest has kicked off summer on Father’s Day weekend, June 16th to 18th, with free live music, food and craft fairs, Dragon boat races, kids activities, beer garden and more! Harborfest is sponsored entirely by local businesses and volunteers of South Haven.


As part of Harborfest, the Michigan Maritime Museum presents the 36th Antique & Classic Boat Show on Saturday, June 17th. This event celebrates all kinds of antique and classic small craft from powerboats to paddle boats. Woodworkers and collectors alike will show their boats, demonstrations on boat building techniques will be featured, and toy boat building will be available for kids. The aim is to help perpetuate the building, restoration, and use of classic boats and small craft to give participants and the public an entertaining and informative learning experience.


For 42 years, the St. Ignace Car Show has been a Michigan summer staple for people who love automobiles. This year, the Car Show weekend is June 22nd to 24th, with hundreds of custom, antique, and celebrity automobiles on display in the streets of this quaint Upper Peninsula community. This event is great for families, and conveniently located near beaches, parks, hiking trails, and Mackinac Island ferries.


The Bay Harbor Vintage Car and Boat Festival in Petoskey brings you an amazing show on June 22nd and 24th with a fantastic collection of classic cars and wooden boats! This event brings thousands of people from across the Midwest with their families to see this elegant gathering of vintage cars and motor boats.


St. Ignace Car Show, photo courtesy Pure Michigan

Grab your walking shoes and mark your calendar for the upcoming Marquette Trails Festival from June 23rd to 25th. Spend some time in the great outdoors at this fun event!


For history buffs, the Civil War Muster in Ludington is June 23rd and 24th at Historic White Pine Village. Become one with history while being surrounded by civil war re-enactors.


The 14th Annual Blues Festival will be held in Marshall on Saturday, June 24th. The event is headlined by the Luther Badman Keith Blues Band, along with guest bands performing all day. Bring a lawn chair, sit right downtown on Michigan Avenue, and enjoy the blues.


Located on Walloon Lake, Hotel Walloon is hosting their Walloon Water Sports Festival on Saturday, June 24th. See water ski shows by the Grand City Show Skiers at 11am and 1:30pm. With summer comes exciting times on the water at Hotel Walloon.


June in Battle Creek means it’s time for the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival from June 29th to July 4th. Balloon launches or fly-ins take place every night (weather dependent) and air shows take place at noon.


Cadillac Freedom Festival in Cadillac is a fantastic, family-friendly festival from June 30th to July 2nd. Enjoy a Kids Carnival, Freedom 5k, disc golf tournament, and more over this three-day event up north.

July Festivals in West Michigan

When it comes to summer festivals, Traverse City packs the schedule with something happening nearly every week. One of the biggest festivals in the area is the National Cherry Festival, which runs from July 1st to 8th. Cherry Festival celebrates every year with over 150 family activities including air shows, fireworks, parades, games, races, midway rides, nightly outdoor concerts, and plenty of chances to taste delicious cherry products.


If you consider yourself an art enthusiast, the 49th Annual West Shore Art Fair in Ludington is July 1st and 2nd, featuring over 100 jury selected fine artists competing with a variety of media including clay, fiber, glass, painting, photography, and more.


There are events galore in Marquette, so clear some time to attend at least one of these fine festivals! The International Food Festival is from July 2nd to 5th, Hiawatha Music Festival from July 21st to 23rd, and Blueberry Festival on July 28th.


Shanty Creek’s Freedom Festival is July 3rd. Activities include games and activities for kids, bounce house, water slide, live music, lawn games and disc golf, swimming pool, face painting, and more. Admission is free with a nominal fee for some activities.


Charlevoix Venetian Festival

Celebrate Independence Day in the Charlevoix area at the Boyne City 4th of July Festival on July 3rd and Beaver Island’s celebration on July 4th. July also brings the tunes with the Charlevoix Venetian Festival from July 15th and 22nd, and the Beaver Island Music Festival from July 20th and 22nd.


The Lakeshore Art Festival features a unique blend of arts, crafts, music, food, and fun in beautiful downtown Muskegon on July 7th and 8th. With nearly 300 fine art and specialty craft exhibitors, children’s activities, specialty food items, street performers and multiple interactive art stations this event is an artful experience for all to enjoy!


Car enthusiasts, rev up your engines for the Scottville Summerfest when it rolls into Ludington on July 7th and 8th. There’s a Friday night car cruise and Saturday is headlined by the Annual Classic Car Show.


Ionia Free Fair in Ionia is July 13th to 22nd with camping, a parade, live entertainment, and more across ten days. The whole festival is very affordable and, best of all, very fun!


Mount Pleasant has festivals throughout July, making it easy to find something for you and your family. On July 15th, car collectors from across the state come together for the Downtown Mount Pleasant Car Show. NativeFest, from July 24th to 29th, features an American Indian Dance, music and comedy shows, car bingo, and more. With festivals and events throughout the month, you’re bound to find something that you’ll love in Mount Pleasant.


Beaver Island Music Festival promotes the variety and tradition of all music and art, and the Beaver Island Boat Company  will help you get there. Being located off the grid in the middle of Lake Michigan’s largest island, it’s easily known as one of the most unique music festivals in northern Michigan. Load up your camping gear, ride the boat over during the festival week from July 20th to 22nd, and listen to musicians fill the air with their laid-back tunes on your way to rock out in the woods with a great group of friends.


Celebrate Polish culture at the Coldwater’s Polish Festival on July 20th to 22nd, before ending the Coldwater’s summer festival season the following month with the County Fair from August 6th to 12th.


For your inner artists, there’s also the 49th Annual Cadillac Arts Festival on July 21st and 22nd, held in the Cadillac City Park. The Park Pavilion hosts live entertainment and the art exhibits will be present throughout the weekend.


Idlewild Festival, held in Idlewild on July 22nd, commemorates and celebrates the history of well known African-American entertainers and professionals who owned property and performed at the Historic Resort prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Known as the “Black Eden,” this location was one of the few resorts in the United States where African Americans could vacation and purchase property.


New to Battle Creek this year is the Caribbean Fest on Saturday, July 22nd. Come out for a night of authentic island food, craft vendors, and reggae music. It’s a great way to spend a hot July, summer night. Rounding out the summer festival season in Battle Creek is Leilapalooza at the Leila Arboretum on Saturday, July 29th. See 60 bands perform on multiple stages at this family event.


Traverse City Film Festival is July 25th to 30th. The event was founded by Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore as a charitable, educational, nonprofit organization committed to showing “Just Great Movies” and helping to save one of America’s few indigenous art forms: the cinema. The festival brings films and filmmakers from around the world to northern Michigan every year.


Petoskey is hosting the 18th Annual Bay Harbor Fine Arts & Fine Craft Festival. Held on the waterfront North and South Terraces on July 28th and 29th, this year’s festival includes expanded art categories, meaning there’s more to see or possibly add to your collection.


Rounding out the Grand Haven summer is the Coast Guard Festival. Running from July 28th to August 6th, this nationally recognized festival honors and respects the men and women of the United States Coast Guard and provides family activities along the way. Grand Haven prides itself on throwing festivals for the entire family, and this summer is no exception.


Rendezvous in the Sault in Sault Ste. Marie is a two-day festival on July 29th and 30th, where you’ll be able to live through history. The Michigan Surveyor’s Reenactment Group fills the days with food, music, dancing, cannon firing, drum and fife corps, puppet shows, storytelling, crafts, and games. Step back in time and experience life in the 1600s with this fun and educational event! Rendezvous at the Sault moves right into the 5th Annual Sault Summer Arts Festival on August 1st. This juried exhibition and sale of fine arts and crafts is a free event with a wide array of arts and crafts on display including paintings, photographs, prints, and more. Enjoy these events in this historic Michigan city!

August Festivals in West Michigan

Kalamazoo Ribfest is not only one of Townsquare Media’s signature events, but also Kalamazoo’s largest annual downtown festival when it takes over from August 3rd to 5th. Featuring rib vendors from across the country as well as local favorites, come with an empty stomach! The “Best Ribs in Kalamazoo” tent will kick off Thursday night where attendees can sample from all the local rib vendors to determine the winner who receives rights to a vendor booth space at next year’s event. National entertainment and local bands will take the stage as well.


The 44th Annual Island Art Fair in Grand Ledge is August 5th, and is designed to promote Ledge Craft Lane. Vendors at the Island Art Fair come from all over the state for one of the best one-day shows in Michigan. As it was for the first Island Art Fair and continues to be, all artists’ and artisans’ work is approved by a jury. Those interested in participating need to complete an application and provide pictures of their art or craft as well as a picture showing them create their work.


Petoskey rounds out their summer festival season with two big events. In nearby Boyne Falls is the Boyne Falls Polish Festival on August 3rd to 6th. Polish food and Polish music are just the beginning with a carnival, horse and tractor pulls, an oldies night, parades, and more throughout the four days. On the evening of August 10th, Petoskey will be filled with unique cars and trucks during the annual Harbor Springs Car Festival. What makes this event different from other car shows is that it is open to all types of vehicles, giving attendees a wide variety of vehicles to check out.


The National Blueberry Festival is a four-day long event from August 10th to 13th, that takes place in the heart of downtown South Haven. The Blueberry Festival is one of South Haven’s biggest annual events. It encompasses the friendly feel of South Haven, while providing fun and entertainment for the whole family!


The 27th Annual Del Shannon Car Show in Coopersville is one of the largest linear car shows in West Michigan when it comes to town on August 11th and 12th. It draws up to 400 cars for the cruise and draws thousands of people from all over to participate and enjoy.


The Sparta Celtic Festival is a free, family-friendly event focused on the expression of Celtic heritage. Located in Roger’s Park in Sparta on August 12th and 13th, the festival offers music, food, and merchants with a Celtic focus.


See some of the area’s best animals compete at the Berrien County Youth Fair on August 14th to 19th. With this year’s theme of “Fairadise,” there’s plenty of additional concerts, carnival rides, food, and family fun that’s sure to be worth your free time.


The Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan is August 16th to 20th. The mission of the festival is to promote the interests of individuals and businesses related to natural fiber, to advance and continue high quality standards of business practice in the natural fiber area, and to further the development and knowledge within the fiber community. With the festival, enjoy workshops, activities, and a market, with something for everybody!


The 53rd Annual Danish Festival is August 17th to 20th, in Greenville. The event features live entertainment, parades, hot air balloons, and other summer staples while celebrating the Danish heritage.


The Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce invites you to attend the 15th Annual Festival on the Bay on August 18th and 19th at the Petoskey waterfront. Every year, visitors enjoy great music inside the Entertainment Tent and a fun Children’s Area all weekend. Other activities include Chalk the Walk, A Silent Disco, Wine on the Water, The Big Art Show, a petting zoo, and so much more!


The Bellaire Chamber of Commerce is pleased to present the 30th Annual Rubber Ducky Festival in Downtown Bellaire on August 19th. Highlighting the Rubber Ducky Festival is a quarter-mile race when 2000 yellow ducks are dumped into the Intermediate River. Visitors can buy a $5 race ticket that corresponds to the number on a Rubber Duck. Ducks finishing the Top 27 win a cash prize! Come down for the ducks and maybe you’ll leave with some extra cash.


Walk The Beat in Grand Haven is Saturday, August 19th, and is a music festival like no other! The event hosts dozens of artists from all over the state in local business and venues, where participants can literally “walk the beat” from show to show and enter a series of giveaways along the way. It’s the perfect way to expose emerging musicians, as well as support local business in a big end-of-the-summer party!


GRandJazzFest in Grand Rapids is West Michigan’s only free, weekend-long jazz festival! This year’s festival is August 19th and 20th, at Rosa Parks Circle, a central location in the heart of downtown. The festival brings to the stage notable jazz performers as well as up-and-coming artists for diverse audiences.


Bring the family to The City of Hastings’ Summerfest from August 25th to 27th. The annual event features an arts and crafts sale on the lawn of the historical and picturesque Barry County Court House, food, live music and entertainment, sporting events, Grand Parade, car show, and more. Don’t miss this celebration of summer!

Humane Society of West Michigan offers animal camps for kids ages 5-17 this summer

All photos courtesy Humane Society of West Michigan

By Humane Society of West Michigan

Spend your summer with the animals!

Humane Society of West Michigan’s Summer Camp is a great place for your kids to spend their summer learning, growing and having a fun-filled experience that will leave a lasting impression! Summer Camps are filled with activities, games, crafts, lessons and hands-on experience for everyone based on animals and animal welfare! Five different camps are offered for a variety of ages and interests.

  • Full day sessions —  from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • AM sessions — from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • PM sessions — from 1-4 p.m.
  • After Care and Before Care are available for an additional fee.


This camp offers a new theme everyday, including Delightful Dogs, Fun with Critters, Feline Friends and more. Days are filled with crafts, games and fun! Campers are expected to bring their own lunch, snack and a water bottle each day. Limited to 40 campers per session.

  • June 19-23, ages 5-7 — half-day sessions (AM and PM)
  • June 26-30, ages 8-10 — full-day sessions
  • July 17-21, ages 11-13 — full-day sessions
  • July 24-28, ages 5-7 — half-day sessions (AM and PM)
  • August 7-11, ages 8-10 — full-day sessions
  • August 21-25, ages 8-10 — full-day sessions


In this learn-and-create camp, campers will learn about a new topic each day focused on animals. There are different activities and projects throughout the week leading up to the final unique media project. Campers are expected to bring their own lunch, snack and water bottle each day. Limited to 40 campers per session.

  • August 14-18, ages 8-12 — full-day sessions

Vet Camp

In this hands-on camp, teens who are seriously considering a career in veterinary medicine will learn the ins and outs of being a vet. Spend some time with HSWM’s vet staff and watch surgeries, participate in dissections, practice suturing and injections, learn about diagnostic testing and more! Campers are expected to bring their own lunch, snack and a water bottle each day. Limited to 25 campers per session.

  • July 10-14, ages 13-17 — half-day sessions (AM)
  • July 31-August 4, ages 13-17 — half-day sessions (AM)

K9 Enrichment Camp

Sit, stay and come are just a few of the basic commands you will teach shelter dogs during this canine enrichment-filled camp. Learn basic and advanced obedience training, scent training, agility training, enrichment and socialization! Trainers will practice positive reinforcement training and special skills. They will also perform further research in body language, behavior assessment and breed histories to create a long-term strategy for a shelter dog. Campers are expected to bring their own lunch, snack and a water bottle each day. Limited to 25 campers per session.

  • July 10-14, ages 13-17 — half-day sessions (PM)
  • July 31-August 4, ages 13-17 — half-day sessions (PM)

Animal Advocates Mini Camp

In this mini three-day camp, campers who are passionate about animal welfare and making a difference will meet guest speakers and learn about current animal issues in our community. Each day campers will learn about a new topic through games, crafts and activities and even complete a service learning project! Campers are expected to bring their own lunch, snack and a water bottle each day. Limited to 40 campers per session.

  • July 5-7, ages 13-17 — full-day sessions

Reserve your place by signing up today!

Sign-up by emailing JordAnn your Summer Camp Registration Form (below) at

Go here to download the Summer Camp Registration Form.

Here’s the Lowell Showboat Sizzlin’ Summer Concerts 2017 Lineup

By Janet Teunis

Lowell Showboat Sizzlin’ Summer Concerts outdoor concert series runs June 15 to August 25, 2017. Thursday evening concerts begin at 7 p.m. in front of the Flat River, 113 Riverwalk Plaza, in downtown Lowell, Mich. Food and spirits are available; admission to the concerts and parking are free.

The concerts promote the best of the region’s talented musicians, featuring music groups exclusively from Michigan. A diverse mix of music including Blues, World Music, Roots, Rock, Swing, Big Band, Jazz, Country, Americana, Folk, Indie, Funk, R&B and more draw upwards of 1,000 visitors each week. The concert venue is wheelchair-accessible; bleacher seating is available or attendees may bring their own folding chair.

The concerts are presented by LowellArts and the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.

Here’s the lineup:

June 15 – Harper & The Midwest Kind – Blues, World Music, Roots
Borrowing from Western and Aboriginal music, an original take on the roots genre labeled “World Blues”.

June 22 – Brena – Rock, Motown. Features horns, violin, keyboard, electric and acoustic guitar and vocal harmony.

June 29 – Rhythm Section Jazz Band – Swing, Big Band, Jazz
“Little Big Band” consisting of alto sax, tenor sax, trombone, trumpet, piano, guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.

July 6 – Gunnar & the Grizzly Boys – Country, Rock, Americana
Honest storytelling and music that explodes into the audience like an electrifying dose of adrenaline.

July 7 (Friday) – The Bronk Bros. – Country, Southern Rock, Americana. Combines impressive vocals, remarkable guitar playing, rocking harmonica, and crowd-engaging stage energy.

The Lowell Showboat

July 13 – The Steve Hilger Band – Blues. Progressive blues mixed with traditional blues music, come out for an exciting blend of smokin’ hot blues!

July 20 – Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys – Americana
Eclectic Bluegrass band with distinct vocals, tight harmonies, instrumental expertise and creative arrangements.

July 23 (Sunday at 3 p.m.) – 126 Army Band, “The Governor’s Own” – Military Ensemble – Grand Rapids based citizen-soldiers, the band has been providing music for the nation since 1857.

July 27 – The Natchez Trace – Country, Rock. Award-winning group, celebrating 30 years, kickin’ instrumentation and tight 4-part harmony.

August 3 – The Ragbirds – Folk, World Music. A fusion of folk rock and pop hooks over danceable world rhythms stirred with a Celtic fiddler’s bow.

August 17 – Olivia Mainville & the Aquatic Troupe – Folk, Gypsy Swing, Indie. Known for energized, dynamic performances and gargantuan musical talent.

August 24 – The Hip Pocket – Funk, R&B Band. High energy R&B, with cutting edge horn arrangements and exceptional musicianship.

August 25 (Friday at 6 p.m.) – Rockin’ for the Showboat. Alive & Well, The Adams Family, Josh Rose, The Preservers, Time Hungry, The Upstage Crew Blues Band – Regional and local bands joining forces to raise money and help rebuild a Lowell community icon.

Blandford Nature Center kicks off summer activities with Farm Day Open House May 27

By Blandford Nature Center


Summer is knocking on our door, and Blandford Nature Center seems as busy as ever. As we close out the end of the school year, prepare for Summer Day Camps, and develop our Community Programs for the upcoming months, we have many openings for volunteers to come out during this busy, sunny season. Check out the Volunteer Opportunities below to get a sneak peek of all the things happening around Blandford!

Farm Day Open House

When: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, May 27


Don’t miss this family friendly event down on the farm! Meet the goats, chickens, and pigs; say ‘hi’ to your local farmers; check out our plant sale; listen to a story; and play some games. This is a great option for a Memorial Day ‘stay-cation’.


Volunteer for this Event

Longest Day 5K

2017 marks the 6th year of Blandford Nature Center’s fundraising trail run/walk! Join us for an evening of fitness, food, and fun. Run or walk the trails through Blandford’s property. Afterwards, celebrate the summer solstice with us at our Summer Celebration!

  • Where: Blandford Farm
  • When: 4-9 p.m. on Friday, June 23

Volunteer for this Event

Spring Planting Days

As the temperatures rise and the sun shines brighter, Blandford is preparing to take on a few landscaping projects in the various gardens and green spaces around BNC. We need help planting.

We’ll be making several trips to buy/collect native plants from local nurseries so there will be a variety of days available for planting. Please specify a time frame during that day’s open hours so we can plan accordingly.

  • Where: Blandford Nature Center
  • When: Various dates

Volunteer for this Event

Eco-Stewardship Work Days

Eco-Stewardship work focuses on habitat restoration, trail restoration, stream clean-up and removal of invasive species on several sections of our 264-acre site.

  • Where: Blandford Nature Center
  • When: Various dates

Volunteer for this Event

Farm Work Days

NEW THIS YEAR! Perfect for volunteers who want to get their veggies on and hands dirty. Currently offered once a month with the potential to add more days as the season becomes busier.

  • Where: Blandford Farm
  • When: Various dates

Volunteer for this Event


Blandford Nature Center is located at 1715 Hillburn Ave. NW in Grand Rapids. For more info, call 616.735.6240.


All registration fees and donations will be used to further Blandford Nature Center’s mission to engage and empower our community through enriching experiences in nature.

’80s show to benefit local Metro Health-University of Michigan Health Foundation


By Alison Goodyke


Grab your dark sunglasses, tease your hair, put on your spandex and headbands and join the wave headed back to the ’80s.


105.3 HotFM presents Retro Futura: HOT ’80s Rewind on Tuesday, August 1st at the Van Andel Area. Headlined by synth pioneer Howard Jones, the jam-packed show will also feature sets from the English Beat, Men Without Hats, Modern English, Paul Young and Katrina (ex-Katrina and The Waves) in support of Metro Health–University of Michigan Health Foundation.


The arena will host a pre-party prior to the show complete with a local ’80s band, ’80s costume contest, ’80s karaoke contest, games, prizes, food and drink specials and more! The show starts at 7 p.m., doors open at 6 p.m. and the pre-show activities will begin at 5:30 p.m. For more details visit


The Metro Health Hospital Foundation helps Metro Health meet the health care needs of more than 250,000 people annually. This includes providing assistance for people with limited or no health insurance, programs to detect cardiovascular disease in teens, summer camp for cancer patients and their families, Child Life Services for children experiencing hospitalization and funding to promote innovative treatment and compassionate care.


Tickets for Retro Futura: HOT ’80s Rewind can be purchased at the Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place box offices, charge by phone at 1.800.745.3000 or online at Ticket prices are $45, $57.50 and $75. Ticket prices are subject to change.

Get tickets now for fun events coming to DeVos Performance Hall this fall

By Hilarie Szarowicz, Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention / Arena Authority

PJ Masks Live! Time to Be a Hero, a brand-new, fully immersive musical production, will take to the stage at DeVos Performance Hall on Tuesday, September 26, 2017, at 6:00 PM.

Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning Friday, May 19 at 12:00 PM. Ticket prices are $39.50, $49.50, $59.50, and $99.50 for VIP and will be available at the DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena box offices, online at, and charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000. A purchase limit of eight (8) tickets will apply to every order and prices are subject to change. Children ages 1 and up require a ticket.

The live show is based on eOne’s top-rated animated TV series, which airs daily on Disney Junior. Catboy, Owlette, Gekko, and the Baddies will delight fans of all ages with live performances featuring world-class production, familiar and original music, acrobatics, and immersive interactivity.

PJ Masks, the hit series, follows the thrilling nighttime adventures of three young friends who transform into their dynamic alter egos, Catboy, Owlette and Gekko, when they put on their pajamas at night and activate their animal amulets. Together, they embark on action-packed capers, solving mysteries and learning valuable lessons along the way.

ZZ TOP, a.k.a “That Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” lay undisputed claim to being the longest running major rock band with original personnel intact and, in 2004, the Texas trio was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Now, they’re making their way to Grand Rapids with a Sunday, October 1, 2017, concert at DeVos Performance Hall at 7:30 PM.

Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning Friday, May 19 at 11:00 AM. Ticket prices are $49.50, $69.50, and $79.50 and will be available at the DeVos Place® and Van Andel Arena® box offices, online at, and charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000. A purchase limit of eight (8) tickets will apply to every order and prices are subject to change.

ZZ TOP’s music is always instantly recognizable, eminently powerful, profoundly soulful and 100% Texas American in derivation. The band’s support for the blues is unwavering both as interpreters of the music and preservers of its legacy. It was ZZ TOP that celebrated “founding father” Muddy Waters by turning a piece of scrap timber than had fallen from his sharecropper’s shack into a beautiful guitar, dubbed the “Muddywood.”

Memorial Day celebrations in central West Michigan

At Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park

By Jeremy Witt, West Michigan Tourist Association


Hard to believe, but Memorial Day is fast approaching. Here are a few fun things the whole family can enjoy!


The Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park has extended hours over Memorial Day weekend. If you want to pick up discounted tickets for the holiday weekend, stop in on May 20th for their May Kick-Off Event where tickets for shortened climb times and zip rides will be discounted, along with other giveaways and special offers. Spend the long weekend with family and friends among the trees.


The Grand Haven Area kicks off summer and celebrates Memorial Day weekend with a big summer run! There is something for everyone from the avid racer to the occasional walker, with their certified 5K Run, the 1 Mile Family Fun Run/Walk, and the Tot Trot obstacle course for ages 3 to 6. All ages are welcome to participate, so bring your mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa. Join your community for this annual family event to promote healthy lifestyles in the Tri-Cities area.


Inside USS Silversides

The Muskegon area has events throughout Memorial Day weekend for everybody. The Fruitport Old Fashioned Days is May 24th to 29th, and features fireworks, a carnival, community picnic, parade, Lions Ox Roast, a 5K Run, and more. Celebrating 30 years, the Lost Boat Ceremony on May 28th at the USS Silversides Museum is both a solemn and joyful celebration designed to honor the loss of 52 U.S. submarines and 3600 submariners during World War II. The 12th Annual Blessing of the Boats is the same day, with boats of all types gathering on Muskegon Lake near the Milwaukee Clipper for a parade of boats. Also May 28th is the Final Approach Memorial Program located at Old Grand Haven Road and Seaway Drive. May 29th brings a parade and American Salute Concert. Spend the morning watching seven bands and over 40 marching units highlighting patriotism and citizenship. After the parade, head over to the Frauenthal Theater for additional musical selections at this free performance. Muskegon celebrates Memorial Day in style and great quantity, so make sure to carve some time out of your calendar to experience it!


Join the Muskegon KOA Campground for an enjoyable holiday camping weekend. They require a three-night minimum stay for Holidays/Special Events, but it’s well worth your time. Stay from May 26th to 29th and enjoy an immersive outdoor experience. They have tent sites, a limited number of cabins, and a few 30 amp full service sites still available, but they’re going fast. Give them a call to book your stay today!


In celebration of Memorial Day, Mecosta County is home to the 4th Annual Memorial Weekend “4 Veterans Car and Craft Show” on Saturday, May 27th. There will be 32 awards including best of show, best car, best truck, best muscle car, best motorcycle, and many more! Other activities will include a craft show, door prizes, 50/50 drawings, and plenty of music. All proceeds will benefit local Amvets post 1941.

Alma, Michigan, is better known as Scotland, USA, over Memorial Day weekend each year as thousands of people gather together to celebrate the Alma Highland Festival and Games. The event is celebrating 50 years this Memorial Day weekend when they take over Alma on May 27th and 28th. This event has grown to become one of the largest, most prestigious attractions of its kind in the Midwest!



Law enforcement charity hockey game to benefit 9-1-1 dispatcher

Michelle Bouwens, with her family, is battling cancer and is the focus of a benefit hockey game May 20. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


A 9-1-1 dispatcher — a person who is “always there for you, waiting for your call” — is now in need of support from the community. And the annual Kent Area Law Enforcement’s Old Time Hockey Game offers the public the ability to support while watching some fun hockey action.


The Old Time Hockey Game will take place Saturday, May 20, at Byron Center’s Southside Ice Arena, 566 100th St., with the game beginning at 1 p.m. and an open skate to follow.


Proceeds from the event will benefit Michelle Bouwens, an 18-year veteran 9-1-1 dispatcher who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, according to her boss, is currently in the fight of her life.


“They are always there for you, waiting for your call.  Now, one of them needs your help,” Matt Groesser, Emergency Communications Center manager for the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, said in an emailed statement. “The men and women of the Kent County Communications Center answer over 140,000 9-1-1 calls per year (that’s one call every 4 minutes on average).  They are responsible for emergency communications in a community of over 435,000 people.  … Come join us, and hundreds of others from the area, at the 21st annual Kent Area Law Enforcement Charity Hockey Game.”


The charity hockey game is the longest-running law enforcement hockey game in the state. The event is open to the public, with donations accepted.


Bouwens is married and has two sons, ages 9 and 10. She is taking unpaid time off to undergo treatment and surgeries, according to supplied information.


For more information visit the event’s Facebook link.


Places to add to your West Michigan summer fun bucket list

Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park

By Jeremy Witt, West Michigan Tourist Association

You might have a little extra free time this summer or have the desire to go on a road trip. With so many things to do and places to visit in West Michigan, how will you decide what to do? That’s where the West Michigan Summer Bucket List comes in handy. See how many places you can visit, or discover something completely new to add to your vacation schedule.

West Michigan
Navigate freely through the trees at Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park. Their event to kick off the season, Treetops Summer Kick-Off, is May 20th with discounted tickets for shortened climb times, zip rides, giveaways, and special offers.

Visit Grand Haven and the Electric Bike Place’s brand new MACTrack. This multi-terrain test track allows you to test ride some of the most popular electric bikes in the industry. Bring a lunch, enjoy a few hours of riding, and come talk about ebikes with their knowledgeable staff.

Visit the eight unique museums in the Marshall area. These eight museums feature a one-room school house, a house built in the Polynesian style, Civil War museum, governor’s mansion, U.S. postal museum, magic museum, country church, and gasoline museum. May 20th is tourism day in Marshall, and all the museums will be free to the public to celebrate.

Bring out your inner treasure hunter at Antiques on the Bluff in St. Joseph. Held along tree-lined Lake Bluff Park overlooking Lake Michigan, this antique show is a premier event for St. Joseph and antiquers around Southwest Michigan when it pops up on the first Sunday of each month from May through October.

Visit Saugatuck, recently named the #1 Best Small Towns to Visit in Michigan by Crazy
Tourist and Best Small Town Weekend Escape by USA Today, making it a place that needs to be on your bucket list. There’s no better way to see the town than a trip on the Star of Saugatuck. Featuring entertaining narration and a wonderful view of the town, you’ll want to be on the water when the Star of Saugatuck started their season on Saturday, May 6th.

Find exciting treasures at Downtown Market’s two summer pop-up shops. The Vintage Street Market is Grand Rapid’s only monthly vintage market, popping up the second Sunday of each month from May until September. This year’s Vintage Street Market vendors were carefully curated to provide the best variety of vintage goods Grand Rapids has to offer. The Made In Michigan Pop Up Market features over 50 vendors who proudly “make” in Michigan! Vendors bring their wares to the market on Saturdays, May 27th, June 24th, July 22nd, August 26th, and September 23rd.

Visit the Jewel of Barry County at the Historic Charlton Park in Hastings. Situated on 310 acres along beautiful Thornapple Lake, you can easily cool off at the beach, launch your boat, hike the trails, or pack a picnic for a relaxing meal. Join the park for their many special events, including Charlton Park Day, Father’s Day Car Show, 4th of July and Veteran’s BBQ, Gas & Steam Engine Show, and more.

From Muskegon Museum of Art’s Edward S. Curtis: The North American Indian Exhibit

The Muskegon Museum of Art has an internationally recognized exhibit, Edward S. Curtis: The North American Indian, from May 11th to September 10th. This exhibit is the most comprehensive ethnographic and photographic historical record of Native Americans ever produced, comprised of 20 volumes of research and 723 photogravures.

Go to one (or 12) of LowellArt’s Showboat Sizzlin’ Summer Concerts. These free outdoor summer concerts run from June 15th to August 24th at the Riverwalk Plaza in downtown
Lowell with food and spirits available for purchase. Enjoy music from all genres, including jazz, country, big band, rock, R&B, and more all summer long.

Shoot sporting clays with your family at Blendon Pines in Zeeland. This activity is both safe and fun, with knowledgeable staff who are ready to help. Walk through the groomed trails to the 12 different shooting stations. Line up your shot and try your best to be the best sharpshooter in your family!

Visit Hastings for their brand new summer concert series, Hastings Live! Wednesday evenings feature the best in local music, while their Friday Night Features include regional artists and rising stars such as Hip Pocket, The Crane Wives, The Accidentals, and more. Listen to new music all summer with this new concert series.

The Lake County Historical Museum in Baldwin is a must-see museum. Located in a restored 1938 CCC-built U.S. Forest Service district ranger residence, the museum is filled with Lake County artifacts of every sort. There’s also the memorial garden, which is beautiful through the summer months and a highlight in downtown Baldwin.

Historic White Pine Village

Surround yourself with Civil War re-enactors at the Historic White Pine Village in Ludington. This is the site of a Civil War Muster featuring many re-enactors encamped on the grounds. Visitors will experience cannon firings, small arms interpretation, and morning colors.

Sail Lake Michigan aboard a Pirates of the Caribbean themed cruise with the S.S. Badger in Ludington. Passengers can wear pirate costumes and speak in pirate lingo on this festive Lake Michigan shoreline cruise aboard America’s last coal-fired steamship. Tickets are $39 and include a buffet with desserts and soft drink and live music.

Further afield

Celebrate the birthplace of cereal at National Cereal Fest in Battle Creek. The festival begins on Friday, June 9th with the Grand Cereal Parade, and continues on Saturday, June 10 with the World’s Longest Breakfast Table. Grab a bite with all-you-can-eat cereal.

The Inland Seas Education Association in Suttons Bay has three sails this summer that deserve a spot on your Bucket List. Their Breakfast on the Schooner Sail is Saturday, July 1st and Friday, August 25th, where you can enjoy a freshly prepared breakfast as you sail around Suttons Bay. On Friday, June 23d and July 21st, their Astronomy Under Sail gives you one of the best views of the night sky along with some informative commentary. Their Meteor Show Sail on Friday, August 11th, lets you see this amazing natural phenomenon aboard the 77’ schooner.

Schooner sailing

Many people have a visit to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island on their Bucket List. With the hotel’s Family Added Value Days available select nights in July and August, you and your family can have the full Grand Hotel experience while saving along the way. Stay three nights and get the fourth night free, stay two nights and get the third night half off, or stay one night and get the second night 25% off. These stays include what has made the Grand Hotel such a sought-after destination, but with a little savings.

Explore a tropical garden filled with hundreds of exotic butterflies at the Grand Traverse Butterfly House and Bug Zoo in Williamsburg. Watch honeybees making honey, find your favorite tarantula inside the Tarantula Tree display, and discover beetles and friends in the Beetle Boulder.

Hop aboard a Tommy’s Rentals Sunset Cruise at Hotel Walloon on Walloon Lake. Offered every Friday night in the summer, these cruises include a captain, appetizer, wine, and beer. Also offered throughout the summer are the outdoor movies in the Village Green Park on Thursday nights. Grab a blanket or park your boat at the dock to catch an outdoor movie starting June 29th.

See some of the area’s best animals compete at the Berrien County Youth Fair on August 14th to 19th. There’s also concerts, carnival rides, food, and more to fill your week at the fair.

Visit Mecosta County and the second longest river in Michigan, the Muskegon River. On the
river, you can go tubing, canoeing, fishing, kayaking, and more. There’s 14 places to purchase a fishing license in the area, making it easier than ever to hit the waters in search for the big catch of the day.

Tahquamenon Falls

Visitors to Sault Ste. Marie have two attractions worthy of your bucket list: and the Soo Locks. Tahquamenon Falls is a 50-foot waterfall, with a park that is open year-round. The Soo Locks is widely considered a man-made wonder, used to help ships traverse the 21-foot drop between Lake Superior and Lake Huron every day and night. There’s much more fun to be had in Sault Ste. Marie, but these should be at the top of your list of things to see and do.

Celebrate Mackinac Island’s oldest hotel with a visit to the Island House Hotel. This historic landmark was originally commissioned by Charles O’Malley to be his summer beach house, and 165 years later, you can stay there when they celebrate their anniversary on July 7th.

Ride antique bikes in vintage or traditional British cycling attire and stay at Mission Point Resort during the Lakeside Ride with a Bit of Style on May 12th. The two-mile ride takes you through downtown historic Mackinac Island and past the Arch Rock in the state park. The event is free and open to all, but the best way to experience the event is with the Tweed Ride Experience Package from Mission Point Resort.

Find Michigan’s State Stone, the Petoskey Stone, or visit Avalanche Bay at Boyne Mountain Resort, Michigan’s largest indoor water park when you visit the Petoskey area.

If ziplining is one of those things you can’t wait to try, check out Wildwood Rush in Boyne City with its 1,200 foot triple racing line.

Rent a pontoon and make it a day of relaxation on the many lakes of Coldwater, or go to one of the remaining drive-in movie theaters in the state at the Capri Drive-In. Recently upgraded to digital, the Capri Drive-In shows first-run double features on each of the two screens.

Get the “up north” experience and try a new sport at Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire. Guests will find the beauty of the woods and water of northern Michigan at a slower pace far from the crowds and traffic. You can even try a unique sport called FootGolf, a hybrid of golf and soccer, that’s sweeping the world of golf in recent years. It is now a recognized tournament sport in over 20 countries, and the American FootGolf League recognizes 85 participating U.S. courses in 29 states.

For many, a trip over the Mackinac Bridge is a bucket list worthy goal, but once you arrive on the other side and head north, you’re treated to Marquette County. Here, you can visit Sugarloaf Mountain or go for a scenic hike at Presque Isle Park, often considered the finest natural city park in the world.

Waldo Wright’s Flying Service

Experience lazy-eights, steep and shallow 360 degree turns, and maybe even a few “whoopty-dos” at Waldo Wright’s Flying Service in Portage. Carrying up to 4 passengers in a large front-open cockpit, guests experience the sensations of flight in the open cockpit. See, smell, feel, and hear the experience for yourself on one of these rides.

For 42 years, the St. Ignace Car Show has been a Michigan summer staple for people who love automobiles. This year, Car Show weekend is June 22nd to 24th, when hundreds of custom, antique, and celebrity automobiles will be on display in the streets of this quaint Upper Peninsula community. This event is great for families and conveniently located near beaches, parks, hiking trails, and Mackinac Island ferries.

Enjoy West Michigan’s finest display of fireworks on July 3rd from the deck of the Michigan Maritime Museum’s tall ship, Friends Good Will. Sail out of South Haven onto Lake Michigan as you watch the fireworks light up the lake and sky on this memorable cruise.

Take the ferry out of Charlevoix to one of Lake Michigan’s most hidden gems: Beaver Island America’s Emerald Isle. Enjoy a relaxing boat ride as you dock in Paradise Bay, surrounded by turquoise water and welcoming lighthouses. Tours are offered Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The Leila Arboretum & Kaleidoscope Garden in Battle Creek is a must-visit for families. Their Fantasy Forest is an amazing display of artistic talent and creativity. In 2015 and 2016, artists gathered from around the country to transform a grove of 100-year-old Ash trees into stunning works of art. They also have their Kaleidoscope Garden. Like the popular children’s toy, the Kaleidoscope Garden is always changing, highlighting different colors, shapes, and experiences as the seasons progress. Throughout the one-acre garden, visitors will take a closer look at how plants affect their everyday lives while getting a glimpse into some of Battle Creek’s interesting history.

The Grand Haven area’s Musical Fountain is truly one of a kind. The Grand Haven Musical Fountain is a synchronized water and light show accompanied by music of all varieties. Each 25-minute show features a variety of well-known music. The 2017 season opened on May 5th and runs through September.

See historical re-enactments at the 17th Annual Feast of the Strawberry Moon in Grand Haven on June 10th. This event brings in approximately 250 re-enactors, entertainers, demonstrators, and period vendors to provide the experience of the 18th century.

See how many rides you can squeeze into a day at Michigan’s Adventure  in Muskegon. They have everything from high-thrill roller coasters and water rides to the relaxing Lazy River. At Michigan’s Adventure, you get two parks for the price of one.


Grand Rapids Symphony 2016-17 season ends with Beethoven’s popular ‘Eroica’ Symphony, May 19-20

By Joan Engel, GR Symphony


From “Bonaparte” to “Eroica”, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 faced an identity crisis from the start.

Ludwig van Beethoven intended to nickname his Third Symphony “Bonaparte”, for Napoleon Bonaparte, the French general he admired. After Napoleon declared himself Emperor in 1804, Beethoven revoked his dedication and renamed the brilliant piece, Sinfonia Eroica, to celebrate the memory of a great man.

The solemn, second movement of Symphony No. 3, which was premiered in 1805 in Vienna, seems to foreshadow the funeral march of Napoleon, 17 years before his actual death in 1821.

Larry Rachleff will lead the final concerts of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2016-17 Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 19-20, in DeVos Performance Hall.

Concert sponsor is Zhang Financial, and guest artist sponsor is the Edith I. Blodgett Guest Artist Fund.

In prelude to the bitter-sweet symphonic work of Beethoven, Grand Rapids Symphony will begin the concerts with Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. For this French-centered finale, the orchestra welcomes former Music Advisor Larry Rachleff back to Grand Rapids together with his wife, soprano Susan Lorette Dunn, to sing selections from Joseph Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne.

“A take-charge maestro who invests everything he conducts with deep musical understanding”( Chicago Tribune), Larry Rachleff is in his 20th season as Music Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and served as Grand Rapids Symphony’s Music Advisor for the 2015-16 season. Rachleff is Director of Orchestras and a professor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music in Houston. Last season, he conducted three of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Classical Series concerts in DeVos Performance Hall.


Australian soprano, Susan Lorette Dunn studied at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane, Queensland. Dunn is a Churchill Fellow and worked with the New York Festival of Song in New York City. She and her husband reside in Houston with their son, Sammy.

Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’aprés-midi d’un faune, based on the poem of the same name by Stéphane Mallarmé, often is compared to the lush and dreamy works of Wagner but in half the time. The work is just nine minutes long.

Susan Lorette Dunn

Debussy himself wrote: “The music of this prelude is a very free illustration of Mallarmé’s beautiful poem. By no means does it claim to be a synthesis of it. Rather there is a succession of scenes through which pass the desires and dreams of the faun in the heat of the afternoon. Then, tired of pursuing the timorous flight of nymphs and naiads, he succumbs to intoxicating sleep, in which he can finally realize his dreams of possession in universal Nature.”

Joseph Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne includes six of the sweetest French songs and pastorals you may ever hear.

Malurous qu’o uno fenno is a playful bourée exploring the dilemma whether it is better to be in love or out of love. Lo fiolaire is a sensuous tribute to a beautiful girl, spinning at her wheel, with the onomatopoeia of the sound of wheel forming a lilting refrain.

Closing the set and the first half is Lou coucut, one of the many bird songs in the Auvergne collections, this one is about a noisy cuckoo.

  • Upbeat, a free, pre-concert, multi-media presentation will be held before each performance at 7 p.m. in the DeVos Place Recital Hall. Upbeat is sponsored by BDO USA.
  • The Grand Rapids Symphony this season has introduced a special cocktail for its audiences in DeVos Performance Hall. At every concert in the 2016-17 Richard and Helen DeVos Classical series, try a “Spirit of the Symphony,” also called a French 75.
  • The complete Beethoven’s Eroica program will be rebroadcast on June 4, 2017, at 1 p.m. on Blue Lake Public Radio 88.9 FM or 90.3 FM.

Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS ticket office, weekdays 9 am-5 pm, at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.)

Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased online at

Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Passport program. This is a MySymphony360-eligible concert.

This activity is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.


#1 NYT Bestselling author David Sedaris to visit Schuler Books on June 5th

By Whitney Spotts, Schuler Books

Schuler Books welcomes David Sedaris back for his first bookstore tour in years, on Monday, June 5, for the release of one of the most anticipated books of the season, Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002).

The humorist tells all in a book that is, literally, a lifetime in the making.

Sedaris has kept a diary for 40 years. In his diaries, he’s recorded everything that has captured his attention — overheard comments, salacious gossip, soap opera plot twists, secrets confided by total strangers. These observations are the source code for his nest work, and with them he has honed his self-deprecation and learned to craft his cunning, surprising sentences.

Now, for the first time, Sedaris shares his private writings with the world in Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977- 2002. This is the first-person account of how a drug-abusing dropout with a weakness for the International House of Pancakes and a chronic inability to hold down a real job became one of the funniest people on the planet.

Written with a sharp eye and ear for the bizarre, the beautiful, and the uncomfortable, and with a generosity of spirit that even a misanthropic sense of humor can’t fully disguise, Theft By Finding proves that Sedaris is one of our great modern observers.

Ticketing Info

This will be a ticketed event, with tickets available via pre-order of Theft by Finding from beginning at 10 am on Monday, May 1st. Pre-sales will end on Sunday, May 28. Ticket sales will resume IN-STORE ONLY at the 28th St. location on Tuesday, May 30th at 9am.

Who:   #1 NYT Bestselling Author DAVID SEDARIS

What:  Talk & Signing

Where:  Schuler Books & Music, 2660 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids 49512

When:  Monday, June 5 @ 7pm

Full event details available at

About the Author

David Sedaris is the author of the books: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Holidays on Ice, Naked, and Barrel Fever. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and BBC Radio 4. He lives in England.

Praise for Theft By Finding

“Sedaris fans will thrill to this opportunity to poke around in the writer’s personal diaries, which he has faithfully kept for four decades and used as raw material for his hilarious nonfiction as well as his performances.”―Paul S. Makishima, Boston Globe

“Scintillating… Sedaris is a latter-day Charlie Chaplin: droll, put-upon but not innocent, and besieged by all sorts of obstreperous or menacing folks… Sedaris’s storytelling, even in diary jottings, is so consistently well-crafted and hilarious that few will care whether it’s embroidered.”Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“Raw glimpses of the humorist’s personal life as he clambered from starving artist to household name… though the mood is usually light, the book is also a more serious look into his travails as an artist and per- son… A surprisingly poignant portrait of the artist as a young to middle-aged man.”

―Kirkus (starred review)

Eclectic mix: Meijer Gardens free Tuesday concert line-up ranges from jazz to indie rock

Slim Gypsy Baggage will be one of the “must hear” regional bands at the Meijer Gardens free Tuesday concert series this summer. (Supplied Meijer Gardens/John Rothwell)

By K.D. Noris


While many big-name musical acts come through town as part of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Summer Concert Series, one of the true pleasures of a West Michigan summer is an evening at the Garden’s amphitheater exploring local and regional acts as part of the Tuesday Evening Music Club concert series.


Red Sea Pedestrians (Supplied Meijer Gardens/Brian Powers)

Starting Tuesday, July 4, with one band known for jazzy explorations and another for musical journeys just about everywhere else — Green On Blue and The Red Sea Pedestrians — the diverse two-month program features live bands with music ranging from jazz to indie rock to folk, all in the 1,900-(mostly grass)seat venue and all starting at 7 p.m.


Oh, and did I mention the concerts are free with Gardens’ admission?


Two of the more interesting musical explorations will be the mid August visits of Kalamazoo’s Michigander on Aug. 8 and Slim Gypsy Baggage on Aug. 15.


Michigander (Supplied Meijer Gardens/Adam Podboy)

Playing that night with singer-songwriter Benjaman James, Michigander is described as “emotive indie-rock, delivered through powerful vocals and cerebral lyrics.” The hook for me is the description of the band from its Facebook page: “Michigander has been the toil and passion of Jason Singer since 2013. It’s being built in basements and churches and vans without mufflers. It’s living on stages, floors, and in studios — sounding big and packing light.”


The next week, playing that night with the “downhome, psychedelic jam band” Bigfoot Buffalo, Slim Gypsy Baggage is led by lead singer Morgan Ingle who, accord to the bank’s website, “grew up in a musical family learning guitar from her father and honed her skills as a gifted singer/songwriter.  … Morgan signatures the Slim Gypsy Baggage vibe with her unique voice and thoughtful lyrics, as she covers the eclectic rock, funk and soulful sounds of the band.”


The hook, though, is checking out lead guitarist Cam Mammina. As the website states: “Cam shreds! … Mixing crunchy indie triphop licks, blues, funk, and surf rock sustains.  Needless to say, Cam brings a energized life and a driving shreddiness to SGBs sound.”


Two possible new words in the same sentence: “triphop” and “shreddiness”.  Oh ya.


The rest of the concert series includes:


Miss Atomic and The Zannies, on July 11. Miss Atomic is described as “a melodic blend of modern soul and pop-rock, fresh to the local scene,” while The Zannies is “an antic mishmash of alt-rock, punk, and blues.”


Rollie Tussing & The Midwest Territory Band and The Muteflutes, on July 18. The first is “an old-timey, unique balance of country, early swing, and blues, backed by vaudevillian percussion,” while second is “lilting, thought-provoking, lyric-driven indie folk rock.”


The Moxie Strings and The Dave Sharp World’s Trio, on July 25. Well known to local audiences,


Moxie Strings (Supplied)

The Moxie Strings is “a foot-stomping, rock-influenced, progressive spin on traditional Celtic and Americana classics and originals. While Dave Sharp World’s Trio is “a collaboration between renowned bassist Dave Sharp, Igor Houwat on the ‘oud’ (a short-neck lute-type, pear-shaped stringer instrument), and percussionist Carolyn Koebel, featuring Arabic-based, impromptu adventures into jazz and folk.”


The Moonrays and 6-Pak, on Aug. 1. Two bands also well known locally, The Moonrays offer “vintage, instrumental surf-rock,” while 6-Pak is “an all-girl band, originally formed in 1967, performing the grooviest hits from that era.”


Amy Andrews (Supplied)

Amy Andrews and Taylor Taylor, on Aug. 22. Amy is “a  modern day torch singer and award-winning vocalist, once referred to as a female Elvis” — not my words. Taylor offers “a fresh, young blend of pop and R&B, performing acoustic guitar-driven originals.”


Finishing up the series, as usual, is local music icon Ralston Bowles, as Ralston & Friends will his the stage Aug. 29. Describing Ralston’s music, let alone that of his always changing cast of “friends” is impossible. Start at “folk” and just enjoy the ride from there.


For more information visit .


Saxophonist Richard Elliot to headline 6th annual GRandJazzFest

Headliner Richard Elliot (photo by Lori Stoll)

By Molly Klimas

GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation has announced the performance lineup for the sixth annual festival being held Saturday, Aug. 19, and Sunday, Aug. 20, at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids. Festival organizers announced the lineup at a Lineup Reveal Party held April 26 at H.O.M.E. at The B.O.B. in downtown Grand Rapids as part of International Jazz Day.

Eleven diverse acts are on tap for West Michigan’s only free, weekend-long jazz festival coming up the third weekend in August. Saxophonist Richard Elliot headlines the festival. The complete performance lineup for the August event in order of appearance:


  • Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra with Edye Evans Hyde, 12:30 p.m.
  • Terry Lower / Jazz Expedition Sextet, 2 p.m.
  • Ed Stone and the Flowmasters, 3:30 p.m.
  • Tumbao Bravo, 5 p.m.
  • Bryan Lubeck, 6:30 p.m.
  • HEADLINER – Richard Elliot, 8 p.m.


  • Jazz Student Band – Blushing Monk, 1 p.m.
  • The Isaac Norris Project, 2:30 p.m.
  • organissimo, 4 p.m.
  • Four80East, 5:30 p.m.
  • Nate Harasim & NILS featuring Brandon Willis, 7 p.m.
Edye Evans Hyde (photo supplied)

“We’re thrilled to have Richard Elliot headline the sixth annual GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation!” GRandJazzFest Founder Audrey Sundstrom said. “He’s a huge name in the jazz and R&B world. We can’t wait for the energy that he’ll bring to the stage!”

Scotland-born, L.A.-based Elliot is one of 11 performers and bands who will play throughout the two-day weekend. The eclectic array of jazz performances includes genres from big band to straight-ahead, contemporary to Latin-Cuban and more.

“We have music for everyone,” Sundstrom said. “The great thing about jazz is there are so many types. Our goal is to spread the love of jazz in all it forms.”

In addition to kicking off the festival as always with the acclaimed Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra and Edye Evans Hyde performing vocals, several acts make return appearances at GRandJazzFest: Tumbao Bravo, organissimo, Nate Harasim and Bryan Lubeck. A student jazz band also will perform.

Tumbao Bravo (photo supplied)

GRandJazzFest announced this year’s lineup on April 26 as part of International Jazz Day celebrations taking place worldwide honoring the great American art form. The Steve Hilger Jazz Quartet — which has performed at past GRandJazzFests — played April 26 at H.O.M.E. Learn more about International Jazz Day at

The two-day GRandJazzFest festival will again be free thanks to presenting sponsor DTE Energy Foundation, the City of Grand Rapids, Gilmore Collection, GR and Jazz, IntentPR, Corporate Live, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Amway Hotel Corporation, Experience Grand Rapids, Icon Sign, Matt Huizenga Videography, Meijer, MoxieMen, Steelcase, Configura, Fancy Faces, Grand Rapids Community College, Hilger Hammond, Kitchen 67, Levens Strand & Glover, Rick and Mary Stevens, Rockford Construction, Swift Printing, WGVU, and other sponsoring organizations and individuals. Sponsors are still needed. Go here for more info.