Category Archives: Kids Activities

First-ever Runway 5K at Gerald R. Ford International Airport coming this fall

The runways at the Ford International Airport will be the running track for a fall 5k. (Supplied)

by Montae Harris, WKTV Staff


Lace and gear up your sneaks and get ready for the first ever Runway 5K, starting this fall at the Gerald R.Ford International Airport (GFIA).


The event will take place Saturday, Oct. 7, at 9 a.m., on airport grounds.The race will begin near the cargo facilities, under a runway tunnel, loop around by the airport fire station, and wrap around on runway 8L/26R.


The proceeds will be donated to Make-A-Wish Michigan, with the cost of $28 per person. That includes T-Shirts, post-race snacks and beverages, and awards for top finishers as well as other giveaways.


“It’s through the generous support of our Michigan Community, like our friends at GFIA that we are able to grant life-changing wishes to Michigan children,” Karen Davis, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Michigan, said in supplied material.


There will also be a 1-mile fun run/walk, starting at 9:05 a.m., with the cost of $15 per person.


“This is a tremendous opportunity for runners, walkers, and families who want to come out for a Saturday morning stroll or a competitive race, and to experience a fun event on a runway that is normally only being used for aircraft,” Jim Gill, CEO and airport president, said in supplied material.

For more information on how to register visit here.



‘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


‘Boots and Badges’ brings first responders, community together for day of appreciation and fun

Two of the area’s finest with Shake Broukian and her son, Charlie

By Catherine Kooyers


June 24th was an action-packed day on the grounds of Grace Bible College, and the weather couldn’t have been any better. Happy people, food, ice cones and family friendly activities brought the community and businesses together with firefighters, police officers and other first responders.


It was all part of ‘Boots and Badges’, an annual event hosted by the Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce to honor and show appreciation for the area’s first responders. The idea is to get people connected with their local law enforcement outside of an emergency or distress call.


A fun-filled game of kickball between firefighters and police was just one of the highlights. Families posed for photos with mascots of the White Caps and Drive #1, hit the button on the dunk tank, competed in 9 Square (a volleyball-type game), checked out the vehicles used by first responders, and even became “honorary” first responders, complete with hats and badges.



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.



Get ’em outside: Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center opens outdoor learning lab

Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center math coach Debbie Schuitema, right, and David Britton, retiring superintendent of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, could not keep the students at the from jumping the gun on the ribbon cutting of a new outdoor classroom. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

By K.D. Norris


There was a classroom full of kids playing outdoors of the Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center building Thursday, June 8, as the school district held the grand opening of its new Outdoor Learning Lab.


The adults present — including the incoming superintendents of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools — spoke about the “educational” advantages of the facility. The kids? They just liked being able to climb on things and roll down a hill and dig in the sand.


And that is just the way the two teachers who spearheaded the project — Debbie Schuitema and Julie Swanson — wants it: an outdoor education opportunity that looks a lot like play.


Debbie Schuitema, left, and Julie Swanson. (WKTV)

“Students are naturally curious, and when you bring them out here, without books, when you take a way some of the parameters, and rules and procedures, you allow them to be creative, curious and intuitive,” Schuitema, who teaches math at the center, said to WKTV. “The things they come up with is just amazing, and that leads to more learning. You can take that back inside and build on that.”


The facility, located to the east side of the Early Childhood Center (ECC) building at 961 Joosten SW in Wyoming, includes mostly natural objects which kids can explore and play with: a tree stump, a stone and sand structure, a grassy hill.


And Swanson, a physical education instructor at the center, knows the value of outdoor exercise as part of a student’s educational process.


“Discover yourself through play,” Swanson said. “Just something as simple as which way to you hold a big branch, little side up or big side up? They are learning engineering skills, math skills. … They learn gravity by rolling down a hill. … Really just discovering a new way to learn, but they don’t know they are learning. … (We are just) removing the walls.”


The grand opening event featured permanent and temporary activities such as a mud kitchen, rock grotto, climbing hill, landscape berm, covered gathering space/stage, dead tree stands, Congo drums, weaving loom and log steps.


David Britton, left, and incoming new superintendent Kevin Polston. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

But the most important things the facility brings is the ability just to be outdoors, according to soon-to-retire district superintendent David Britten, who was present at the event along with the incoming new superintendent Kevin Polston.


“Kids today are spending far too much time indoors — it is a criticism of education in general. We are far too focused on content learning and memorization and test taking,” said Britten, who was a big supporter of the project. “We have lost some of these outdoor areas, places for kids to play in.


“So, as I walked along here a few years back, looking for historical artifacts, I thought: What a great place to have kids come out on a regular basis, and learn,” he said. “Find what native plant species that are here, what are invasive; what kind of birds and animals live in this environment. How can we make it better for them? How can we keep plaster creek clean? How can we protect the environment itself, so we can all enjoy it.”


Aside from the support of the superintendent, other supporters thanked at the facility opening include Women Who Care Grand Rapids, City of Wyoming Public Works, Dykema Excavators, DeWitt Landscape and Design, TonTin Lumber and The Stone Zone.


Special thanks were also given to East Lee students, Lee Middle School students, the Plaster Creek Watershed, Groundswell and — especially — the Godfrey Lee Board of Education.


“So many different people donated their time and energy to this,” said Swanson. “The Godfrey-Lee board of education, allowing us to do this without strings attached — that allowed us to be so creative. We really want to thank our board and our superintendent.”


NFL player Veldheer hosts local football camp for a cause

Local high school graduate Jared Veldheer, now a player for the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals, will return to the area to host the Metro Health – University of Michigan Health’s Jared Veldheer Football Camp. (Supplied)

By Jennifer Hoff 

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health


Local high school graduate Jared Veldheer, now a player for the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals, will return to the area to host the Metro Health – University of Michigan Health’s Jared Veldheer Football Camp.


The camp will be held Tuesday, June 27 from 5:30-8 p.m., at Grand Rapids Christian High School Stadium, 2300 Plymouth Avenue, SE. The cost is $20 per student, and is open to students from third through eighth grade.


Jared Veldheer, in a National Football League game for the Arizona Cardinals. (Supplied)

Veldheer is a team co-captain and left tackle for the Cardinals. In 2014, he was the team MVP. He is a Hillsdale College 2-time All-American and a Forest Hills Northern graduate.


At the camp, Veldheer teams up with area football coaches and Metro Health – University of Michigan Health Sports Medicine for the night of instruction.


“I’m excited to get back to Grand Rapids for another year of this football camp,” Veldheer said. “It is exciting to teach young athletes who have a passion for sports and are eager to learn. More importantly, I’m excited to share my message about playing multiple sports, eating healthy, and being a team player. My goal is to encourage all student athletes to ‘Stay in the Game’.” All proceeds from the camp go to the Keeping the Beat Program.


Dr. Ed Kornoelje, sports medicine medical director for Metro Health – University of Michigan Health will discuss with parents and athletes sports injury prevention.


“Athletics provide a great opportunity for students to learn many skills outside of just their sport,” Kornoelje said. “It is important for all student athletes, and their parents, to understand what it takes to be a healthy athlete. This camp provides a great platform to discuss these items.”


In additional to the on field practice, Veldheer will share his personal message on the drive, focus and discipline it has taken to be one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL.


All participants registered by June 27 will receive a free T-shirt and an autographed book “Stay in the Game — Jared Veldheer’s Journey to the NFL”.


To register, go to


St. Cecilia offers summer music camps for all ages

St. Cecilia Music Center’s summer piano camp will be starting in June. (Supplied)

St. Cecilia Music Center


St. Cecilia Music Center will continue is offerings of music training for children this summer with their Stella Royce Piano Camp for students ages 7-15. In addition, it will offer a fun and relaxed adult camp opportunity called Grand Band Camp for older school aged students (age 12 and older) and adults.


The Grand Band Camp will be held Monday though Thursday, June 12-15, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. On Thursday, June 15, a final concert will be performed outdoor at the Gerald R. Ford Museum at approximately 11:30 a.m.


St. Cecilia welcomes musicians from around the community to participate in this casual and fun music experience where site reading can be practiced and a variety of music will be played, including great band favorites. Tuition per person is $45 and the registration deadline is June 8.


St. Cecilia also presents the 10th annual Stella Royce Piano Camp, July 10-14, 2017 from 8:40 a.m. to 3 p.m., offering an engaging and educational experience for young pianists 7-15 years of age. Optional free YMCA playtime is also offered Monday through Thursday from 3-5 p.m. after camp concludes.


Every year during the piano camp, students work with a new-featured composer and perform ensemble pieces written by that composer. This year, nationally renowned composer and master class teacher Mary Leaf from FJH Music Company will join the students to help prepare them for performing. Other talented faculty will also be involved in teaching and supervising all activities of the students throughout the week.


Daily music activities include individual and ensemble lessons, theory and ear training, music composition and music history, supervised practice time and master classes with composer Mary Leaf. In addition, special events are held each day, including solo and ensemble master classes, composition workshops, and time with the featured composer.


The final day of camp, Friday, July 14, a celebratory recital will take place where each student will perform music composed by Leaf, within an ensemble group. An ice cream social will take place after Friday’s recital. Each student will also perform solo, other music compositions, during a recital on Thursday afternoon. Tuition is $375. The registration deadline is June 15.


To register for the Grand Band Camp or the Stella Royce Piano Camp visit For more information call education director Martha Bundra at 616-459-2224 ext. 206.


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!

WKTV cameras to be at Pinery Park Little League celebration

The Pinery Park Little League will celebrate its players, parents and volunteers this week. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


The Pinery Park Little League’s annual Celebration Day, coming this Saturday, is a celebration of the hundreds of kids involved with about 30 teams playing in the park’s youth baseball and softball program. It is also a celebration of the parents and volunteers who work to make the program a success.


WKTV’s mobile coverage crew will be recording it all, starting at 10 a.m., May 13, and set for broadcast at 6 p.m. that night on WKTV community television Channel 25.


“This is our traditional ‘opening day’ celebration; we have been playing for several weeks but we like to wait until we have a better chance of good weather,” said Joe Gonzalez, president of the Pinery Park Little League. “It is a celebration of the kids, but also all the people who are trying to make the league stronger, to keep it going.”


Gonzalez said the event will have a “parade” of teams of players introduced in their team shirts, and then a carnival and food for the kids starting at 11 a.m. Many of the sponsors of the teams and the league will also be identified at the event.


According to Gonzalez, the league hosts a spectrum of levels of baseball and softball teams, including multiple teams in T-ball, coach pitch, minor and major levels. He said there are usually about 14 players in each baseball team and about 10-to-12 players in each softball team.


Pinery Park is located at 2301 De Hoop Ave. (off 28th Street), in Wyoming.


For more information search Pinery Park Little League on Facebook or email .


Summer fun activities abound in Grand Rapids

By Jeremy Witt


There is absolutely no excuse to be bored this summer, not with the variety of offerings from local schools and organizations.

Compass College in Grand Rapids offers interested participants help in making a movie this summer. Learn from professionals how to act on camera and make films in their Summer Film and Acting camps. Running from June 19th to 23rd, these camps are designed for teens ages 13 to 18. Each camp offers a completely different experience: as a Film Camp student, you’ll write, shoot, and edit your own short film with guidance from seasoned filmmakers; in Acting Camp, you’ll work on perfecting on-camera acting techniques with a film actor as your coach, and then star in a film produced by Film Camp. At the end of the week, walk the red carpet as the films premiere for family and friends on the big screen.

The Downtown Market in Grand Rapids has three- and four-day summer camps for the young foodie in your life. Camps are offered starting in late June and run through the beginning of August. Each camp has a distinct theme, ranging from Michigan’s fruits and vegetables to creating and utilizing a backyard farm. Sign up today for what Downtown Market cleverly calls their “Simmer Camps”.

Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park is hosting its first ever Treetop Climbing Camp, a climbing day camp for the curious, adventurous, and outdoor-lovers in your house. At the Treetop Climbing Camp, you will get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at what is involved in adventure climbing, including one-on-one training from their skilled park guides. Two sessions are now available, with session one from June 19th to 21st and session two from June 26th to 28th. The camp is best suited for kids ages 10 to 15, but more importantly, campers need to be able to reach six feet with their arms straight up.

The Grand Rapids Ballet has a variety of camps that are all centered around dance. Their Ballet School has programs for ballet, young dancers, boys ballet, and summer intensive training. They also have two Adaptive Dance programs, Explorer Dance (for children with Down syndrome) and Dancing with Parkinson’s (for adults with Parkinson’s disease). These Adaptive Dance classes allow students to experience the joy of dancing who may otherwise not have the opportunity to do so. Summer camps at the Grand Rapids Ballet are both fun and accessible for everyone.

The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre has summer camps that give students the chance to spend an entire week learning about theatre while having a blast making new friends. There are some fantastic additions to the extremely popular summer camp program this year, so you’ll want to take a look at their new offerings for the season. Camps range from age 4 all the way through high school.

Summer fun happens at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Join in and explore the wonders of science, history, culture, art and fun. For nine weeks this summer, kids ages 4 to 14 can use the museum as a learning lab, experimenting and growing, all while having a great time in one of the area’s most history-rich and “cool” environments.


Meijer Gardens expansion includes expanded learning center, local community education opportunities

Architectural drawings for Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s new Covenant Learning Center, which will be topped by the new Padnos Families Rooftop Sculpture Garden.

By K.D. Norris


The multi-phased building expansion plans of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park announced last week will include an expansion the institution’s learning center, already a favorite of several Wyoming and Kentwood community organizations including Kentwood Public Schools A.R.C.H. after school program.


The expansion plans include a new 60,000 square foot welcome center, a new transportation center, expansion and upgrades to the concert amphitheater, a new sculpture garden entry plaza and a “reimagined” scenic indoor corridor, and expanded parking and urban garden areas. Overall, project construction is scheduled to begin this fall and continue for approximately four years.


After the new welcome center, however, and most important expansion may be the 20,000 square foot Covenant Learning Center, which will be topped by the new Padnos Families Rooftop Sculpture Garden.


Architectural drawings for Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s new Covenant Learning Center, which will be topped by the new Padnos Families Rooftop Sculpture Garden.

“Today we have two approximately 1,100 square foot classrooms devoted to education,” Meijer Gardens President and CEO David Hooker said when asked by WKTV about the Covenant Learning Center. “Since 1999, our educational programming has grown 305 percent. While our education programming has grown … our space dedicated to education has remained the same. The new Covenant Learning Center will have four approximately 1,200 square foot classrooms, two 1,600 square foot classrooms and one 2,200 square foot Interactive Education Area. The opportunity for additional educational programming is nearly unlimited.”


Wyoming and Kentwood programs at the gardens


Kentwood’s A.R.C.H. after school program is just one of the many programs currently using the Garden’s educational programing.


“The after-school programs from both Kentwood (A.R.C.H.) and Wyoming (T.E.A.M. 21), in particular, have made frequent visits to Meijer Gardens in the past,” said Jessica Hart, Meijer Gardens indoor education manager. “We’re delighted that these groups have been able to enjoy our seasonal exhibitions, Sculpture Park, and Children’s Garden. I expect that the new Covenant Learning Center will allow us additional opportunities to offer educational programs school groups and after-school groups alike in the future.”


A.R.C.H. is a collaboration between Kentwood Public Schools and the Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department. Program activities focus on academics, health, wellness, and recreation/leisure education.  These activities will be offered to children, family, and community members throughout the year.


But the Kentwood program is just one of many groups availing themselves of local cultural educational opportunities. And that is just the way Meijer Garden’s wants it.


Following recent educational additions to other Grand Rapids area institutions, including The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Meijer Garden’s Covenant Learning Center “will engage learners in new ways and reinforce our commitment as the go-to place for cultural education,” according to supplied information.


Part of Meijer Garden’s mission


“Since our beginning, education has been a hallmark of the Meijer Gardens mission — reaching more than 89,000 guests last year alone. In fact, the action word in our mission statement is ‘promote.’ Education is the primary method by which we put life into the word ‘promote.’ The dramatic growth of participation in our educational programming not only underscores the quality and diversity of our classes, camps and events, but also demonstrates a need for more classroom space.”


A key aspect of the new classrooms will be that they will provide outdoor learning areas, with five of the six having direct access from within the classroom. The outdoor learning area will be located east of the building and will include seating areas for students, teaching areas for instructors, and partial shade/cover from the elements.


The expansion plans are the result of a nearly complete $115 million capital campaign titled “Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love”. The campaign currently has raised about $102 million of its goal, according to supplied information.


“If we are successful in our ‘Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love’ fundraising efforts, we will begin construction in September of this year,” Hooker said. “We do not have a precise date at this time for the completion of the Covenant Learning Center or the Padnos Families Rooftop Sculpture Garden.”


The New York firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects Partners has been chosen “to re-envision and expand” the Meijer Gardens facilities, according to supplied information. The firm is known for their design of the iconic Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and, most recently, chosen to design the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.


For more information about Meijer Gardens visit For more information about the “Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love” fundraising efforts visit .


Register now for kids’ creative summer classes at Holland Area Arts Council

By Mary Sundstrom


This summer, have your child explore his or her creative side. The Holland Area Arts Council offers Fine Arts Camps for all ages, grades 3 through 12.


The classic 8th Street Fine Arts Camp for grades 3-6 will explore the artwork of Yayoi Kusama, the Polka Dot Queen, and draw inspiration from her vibrant colors, polka dots and infinity rooms. Another quilting camp for grades 5-8 will explore the quilts of modern master Nancy Crow, and each student will again bring home pieced and tied quilt!


The newest addition to the Fine Arts Camps this summer is The Joy of Painting, a teen workshop intensive that will give students grades 9-12 a taste of art school. They’ll learn how to prepare a canvas or board, plan a painting, learn new techniques, gain an understanding of brushes, tools and mediums and finish the week with a peer critiques and a mini exhibition of their work.


The Arts Council offers a Clay Camp every year and have grown the program this summer with five camps, including all-new clay, colors and processes and an awesome new teacher. Grades 3-6 can join Mary Wolter, the Arts Council’s ceramics instructor, to make whistles, games, clay self-portraits, wind chimes — and also learn to use the wheel. The Arts Council is also offering a clay workshop for grades K-2 so the little ones get a chance to play in the mud.


Eat with Your Eyes Cooking Camps are back, too. This summer, grades 3-6 can choose between two culinary camps learning to cook a full day’s worth of food or exploring cuisine from Mexico, Italy and Asia. Kids learn to cook from scratch in these camps and leave with a folder of recipes and the skills to try them at home.


Students will meet at the Holland Area Arts Council each day at 150 East 8th Street in Downtown Holland. Call 616.396.3278 or go here for more information and to register.


Register early! Space is limited and camps fill up fast.

Wyoming’s Hoop Heaven Basketball Academy announces youth programs

Hoop Heaven Basketball Academy will be holding introductory events this month and in April. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff


Wyoming’s Hoop Heaven Basketball Academy recently announced several youth basketball programs, including a March 11 trial event of its Travel Ball League Play and the Saturday afternoon Biddy Ball program starting in April.


Hoop Heaven events are held at the Elevation Church, 2141B Porter St. SW. The program’s mission, according to supplied material, is “Pursuing gospel transformation and leadership development in Wyoming area youth through the game of basketball.”


The Travel Ball League Play event on March 11 will start at 1 p.m. and is for both boys and girls grades 3-12. The cost of tryout is $5 per players and you must pre-register. For registration and more information on this event contact Phyllis Harder at 616-498-1128, email her at or visit their website at or visit them on Facebook at /hoopheavenbasketballacademy


The Biddy Ball program will run April 15 through May 13 and is open to both boys and girls K-2nd grade. Both friend (of teams) and entire team requests will be considered. The cost if $55 per child, with partial scholarships available, which includes a t-shirt. For more information contact Eric Vandyke at 616-272-6244, email him at or visit .


The butterflies spring out at Meijer Gardens starting March 1

Butterflies of all colors and patterns will be flying around Meijer Gardens’ tropical conservatory starting March 1. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff


Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s tropical conservatory, starting Wednesday, March 1, will be home to the first of more than 7,000 tropical butterflies that will be hatched and start flying around the heads of both children and adults alike.


Can’t you just see the Facebook photo?


Butterflies are Blooming runs through April 30. The annual show attracted more than 170,000 visitors last year.


With butterflies from Africa, Asia, South America and Central America, Butterflies Are Blooming is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the nation, according to Meijer Gardens.


The Atlas moth (not really a butterfly, but big and beautiful) will be making an appearance. (Supplied Meijer Gardens/William Hebert)

Approximately 60 colorful species will be flying freely in the five-story, 15,000 square-foot Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory, wherein the 85-degrees and 70-percent humidity environment mimics tropical regions that the butterflies call home.


“Our exhibition this year celebrates shape and pattern,” Steve LaWarre, director of horticulture, said in supplied material. “The butterflies and the natural environment of the conservatory are wonderful examples of how these patterns reveal themselves all around us. This exhibition provides a superb opportunity for our guests to view caterpillars, wings, flowers and foliage with a renewed appreciation for the world around us.”


Species of butterflies expected to arrive include the blue Common Morpho, whose iridescence impresses in flight; brushfoot varieties such as the Clearwing, Lacewing and Zebra Mosaic; the “Longwings” such as the Small Blue Grecian, Doris, Postman and Tiger butterflies; and the “Gliders” such as the Emperor, Ruby-spotted and Tropical Swallowtails.


Special related events include “Who Am I?” A Butterfly Ballet”, with two shows on both March 4 and March 18, a program performed by the Grand Rapids Ballet Junior Company; as well as Tuesday Night Lights, running each week throughout the exhibit’s run, where visitors bring their flashlights to find the butterflies at rest throughout the conservatory.


For more information visit


Tickets on sale now for Whitecaps opening day April 6

Play ball! West Michigan Whitecaps will soon begin play at Fifth Third Ballpark. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff


Detroit Tigers pitchers and catchers have reported, position players are filtering in. That can only mean that, despite the current weather in Grand Rapids, spring is coming and the Whitecaps season is coming too.


The first tickets for the 24th season of baseball at the Fifth Third Ballpark went on sale this week, with opening day planned for April 6, as tickets for the 4Topps tables and the opening day bash in the Stadium Club are now available. Regular game tickets for all 70 home games season will go on sale Tuesday, Feb. 21.


At the Whitecaps opening day, the first 1,200 fans through the gates will receive a Whitecaps Alpine Hat courtesy of Fifth Third Bank, and there will be a post-game fireworks display.


The 4Topps tables include four swivel chairs at a rounded table behind home plate, with exclusive wait service so you don’t have to wait in concessions stand lines. Tickets for Safeco Insurance 4Topps tables are $110 and the number of tables was expanded to a total of 30 tables a year ago.


The Opening Day Bash in the indoor Pepsi Stadium Club overlooking right field is a special event for the 6:35 p.m. opening day game against the South Bend Cubs. In addition to access to the Pepsi Stadium Club, each ticket includes an all-you-can-eat barbeque from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for $26 per person. The Stadium Club is usually rented to large groups for Whitecaps games.


Fans can order 4Topps tickets and Opening Day Bash tickets, as well as regular game tickets later, online at, by phone at 616-784-4131 and in person at the Fifth Third Ballpark administrative offices  at 4500 West River Drive, Comstock Park. A complete schedule is also available online.


Local Dyer-Ives poetry contest open for submissions


WKTV Staff


The annual Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition, a program managed by the Grand Rapids Public Library, is now accepting original and unpublished poetry submissions from residents of Kent County and college students attending classes in Kent County.


The competition is free to enter, but only one poem per person is accepted. Submissions begin Feb. 1 and close March 1 at midnight.


The Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition was started in 1968 by poet James Allen at the urging of John Hunting, the founder of the Dyer-Ives Foundation, to “encourage excellence in writing and to provide recognition for local work of high quality,” according to supplied information.


The annual contest is open to poets ages 5 through adult, separated into three categories. Winners selected in three age categories have their poems published in Voices, receive a cash award, and participate in a reading during the Festival of the Arts in June, held at the Grand Rapids Public Library main library.


The judge for this year’s competition is Oliver de la Paz, author of three collections of poetry, Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby,  and Requiem for the Orchard; winner of the Akron Prize for poetry chosen by Martìn Espada. He co-chairs the advisory board of Kundiman, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Asian American poetry, and teaches at Western Washington University.

Divisions are K-8th grade, high school through undergraduate college, and post-graduate students and adults.


For more information, including the various ways and library locations to submit poems, visit .


Expansive, impressive Ai Weiwei exhibit opens at Meijer Gardens

Ai Weiwei’s long-anticipated show at Meijer Gardens will open to the public on Jan. 27. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


Two years after giving the West Michigan arts community a beautifully patinaed example of the power of renowned Chinese artist and social activist Ai Weiwei, in the form of the stunning “Iron Tree”,  the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park will open to the public its long-anticipated exhibition Ai Weiwei at Meijer Gardens: Natural State on Friday, Jan. 27.


Ai Weiwei’s “Iron Tree” has been on display for two years but now an extensive exhibition of the artist’s works will be on view. (Supplied)

In total, more than 30 works — including iconic works from the artist’s repertoire and work specific to Meijer Gardens — will be sited in galleries, conservatories, public spaces and the auditorium.


“I am looking forward to the exhibition at Meijer Gardens and to share my work and ideas in this unique place,” Ai Weiwei said in supplied material. “I appreciate that they are so committed to my work; they even acquired Iron Tree in 2015. This opportunity to bring an exhibition to Michigan is something I greatly anticipate.”


The public should also “greatly anticipate” the show as well, according to David S. Hooker, President and CEO of Meijer Gardens — for purely artistic enjoyment as well as intersecting with the artist’s unique political and social esthetic.


“Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is pleased beyond words to host this major exhibition, Ai Weiwei’s first ever in a botanical garden or sculpture park,” Hooker said in supplied material. “It will be an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people to enjoy his vision and boundless creativity … (and his) compelling life story that is told through his art.”


The title of the exhibition — “Natural State” — underscores the relationship between the artist and the venue, according to supplied material, combining the artist’s use of the natural materials in his works, set in the often natural settings of Meijer Gardens, but pushing those natural materials into unique states of being: personal, historical, social, political. Materials such as ceramics, silk, bamboo and wood become symbols of Ai Weiwei’s views on humankind in his native China and around the world.


Ai Weiwei’s “Taifeng” will be part of a series of natural material sculptures on display. (Supplied)

The exhibition will use four gallery spaces, four indoor conservatories, the auditorium and numerous public areas at Meijer Gardens. And many of the works will be placed not only in the artist’s unique vision but in context to their surroundings, including having five monumental sculptural bodies derived from ancient Chinese mythological text — “Taifeng”, “Dijiang”, “Shuyu”, “Mingshe” and “Shusi”shown in a “scenic corridor” outside the normal gallery spaces.


“Having worked with Ai Weiwei for many years and in venues across the world, it has been a pleasure to see him focused on the very distinguished and unique circumstances of Meijer Gardens,” Greg Hilty, curatorial director of Lisson Gallery, said in supplied material. “The work carefully selected by the artist and thoughtfully installed at this venue offers a truly memorable experience.”


Lisson Gallery, out of New York City, collaborated with Meijer Gardens on the Ai Weiwei exhibition, as it did with a previous show of the works of Anish Kapoor.


A full list of exhibition activities can be found at

For videos associated with the show, visit Meijer Gardens on YouTube.


Warm a heart and a home: The 21st Annual Walk for Warmth is Feb. 11


By ACSET Community Action Agency


For 20 years, a group of compassionate individuals has bundled up on a cold Saturday morning in the middle of winter to walk. Why? The walkers brave the cold so less-fortunate families don’t have to. They walk for warmth!


The Walk for Warmth is a statewide effort to help low-income households avoid utility shut-offs and keep their homes warm. ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) will host the 21st annual walk in Kent County on Saturday, Feb. 11 in Grand Rapids.


Energy costs take up a greater portion of the household budgets of lower-income families than those of higher-income families. The increased burden on lower-income households reduces the amount of income left for basic needs like food, housing and healthcare. Last year, ACSET CAA provided over $1 million in utility payment assistance for homes in Kent County.


Hundreds of residents in our community struggle to pay their utility bills, and the need for assistance outweighs ACSET CAA’s ability to help. Every dollar raised through Walk for Warmth directly helps local families in need.


Want to help? Walk for Warmth offers a variety of ways to get involved:

  • Become a sponsor. Sponsors will receive recognition of their support in marketing materials and the day of the event. Businesses can connect their brand with a truly heart-warming event. Learn more about sponsor opportunities here.
  • Sell mittens. Contact a Walk for Warmth representative (give a phone number or email) and ask for a supply of “mittens.” The mittens are $1 each; write the name of the person purchasing the mitten and display at your office or business.
  • Get competitive. Hold a chili cook-off or cookie bake-off at your work, school or church. For a small donation ($5), tasters can vote on their favorite.
  • Give an in-kind donation. Consider making a donation of coffee, hot chocolate, juice, water, bagels, donuts or other refreshments for walkers on the day of the event.
  • Join the walk! Ask friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. to join you or support you with a pledge. You can find a pledge form on ACSET CAA’s website by clicking here.

Event Details:


Date: Saturday, February 11, 2017


Time: 8 am Registration; 9 am Walk Kick Off


Where: ACSET Westside Complex

215 Straight Ave NW

Grand Rapids, MI 49504


The Walk for Warmth is an annual event, hosted by Community Action Agencies across the country, to raise funds for heating assistance for low-income households. Learn more:


Your Community in Action! is provided by ACSET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit

Registration for Science Night at Grand Rapids Public Museum now open

The Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff


The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM), recently announced that registration is open to host a science booth at this year’s Science Night at the Museum, taking place on Tuesday, April 18.


GRPM is inviting local and regional researchers, students and faculty to host a hands-on table display related to their research or field of study, according to supplied material  the event will be  from 5 to 8 p.m. The vision is to have lab groups or individuals putting together innovative ways to engage the public and communicate their research to the community.


A cash award will be given for the most innovative and hands-on interpretation of their research. One winner will be chosen by public vote and a second chosen by the Museum’s education staff.


Applications are open through Feb. 10 and can be found at


It’s not too early to think Tulip Time run 

Want to run through the streets of Holland at Tulip Time? There is a run for you. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff

The Tulip Time Festival has announced the opening of online registration and details for the Tulip Time Run on Saturday, May 6, at Kollen Park in Holland. The run — with a 5K, 10K and kids fun run — gives the opportunity to run or walk through Holland’s tulip-lined streets.


All run participants will be issued a race bib, a complimentary gear check tag and a free beverage ticket, redeemable at the after-party at Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant. Registering before April 2 ensures runners a participant shirt and a personalized race bib featuring their name.


The 5K will start at 8 a.m. and the 10K will start at 9 a.m. Both races will start at the corner of 12th Street and Kollen Park Drive and finish on 12th Street in the West-bound lane. Awards will be given to the top three finishers in each age division (male and female). The kids’ run will start at 9:15am at the playground in Kollen Park.


Registration for the 5K and/or 10K is $30, $35 after Feb. 28 and $40 on race day; registration for the kids’ run is $10 through May 3 and $15 on race day. A discount of $2 off each registration is available for families of three to five people. Registration is available online at tulip


Sign up by Dec. 30 for ‘Kentwood’s Got Talent’!

kentwoods-got-talentAre you a singer, dancer or comedian? Do you play an instrument, perform magic or have other talents?


Brush off those skills and start practicing for the Kentwood’s Got Talent, the talent show competition that features the best in the area.


The event will take place outdoors August 11, 2017, behind Kentwood City Hall at 4900 Breton SE.


The deadline is fast approaching — you have until December 30 to apply. Download the application here and send it in. Don’t delay!


For more info, go here.

Kids ‘Shop with a Sheriff’ as Meijer partners with local heroes to brighten holidays for those in need

meijer-toy-truck-santa-1By Victoria Mullen




The Kent County Sheriff Department is partnering with local Meijer Stores to host the 15th annual ‘Shop With A Sheriff’ event, scheduled for 10 am on Sunday, Dec. 4 at the Gaines Twp Meijer at 1801 Marketplace Dr. SE.


The fun begins with a ride in a patrol car for a “lights and siren parade” around the Meijer parking lot and the kids are then dropped off in front of the store to partner with a Deputy for the shopping event.


Deputies volunteer their time to shop with a child and assist them with choosing necessities (coats, boots, hats, etc.) as well as a special gift that each child can choose for themselves or a family member. The Kent County Sheriff Department hopes to make this a special time of the year for approximately 120 underprivileged children.


More than 100 participating Meijer stores have paired underprivileged children with local area heroes to shop for holiday gifts for themselves and family as Meijer continues its annual holiday tradition with the ‘Shop with a Hero’ program.


All told, more than 3,500 children in the Midwest will shop 220 stores with local police officers, firefighters and veterans. Participants are also treated to pizza parties, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus or food baskets.


This event is possible due to the contributions from local business and individuals as well as Meijer, which donated over $200,000 in gift cards to the program to make the holiday season a little brighter for kids and families across the region.

Lights On: Meijer Gardens opens holiday traditions display

A nativity scene from Italy is part of the Meijer Gardens holiday display. (supplied)
A nativity scene from Italy is part of the Meijer Gardens holiday display. (supplied)

By K.D. Norris


The holidays officially kick off not with Black Friday, or even with Thanksgiving eve, but when Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park unveils its annual Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World exhibition Tuesday, Nov. 22.


A model of the Chomeiji Temple in Omihachiman Shiga Prefecture of Japan.
A model of the Chomeiji Temple in Omihachiman Shiga Prefecture of Japan.

The display, open through Jan. 8, presents more than 40 international trees and displays, as well as the railway garden and several special events and activities.


“This year we’re celebrating not only the various holiday traditions observed around the world, but also the folklore that makes these celebrations so unique,” Steve LaWarre, Meijer Gardens director of horticulture, said in supplied material. “Many of these traditions are rooted in horticulture and natural elements. … (including how) legendary folklore such as mistletoe, spider webs, olive trees and rosemary are important parts of holiday customs around the world.”


The exhibition will include narratives and special displays from Iceland, Ghana, Germany and other counties and cultures. The railway garden meanders through four indoor garden spaces, including the newly renovated Grace Jarecki Seasonal Display Greenhouse.


Another highlight will the return of the beautiful Eid ul-Fitr display, which celebrates the end of the Muslim holy period of Ramadan.


Meijer Gardens is open daily but is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. There will be extended holiday hours not just on Tuesdays as usual but also Dec. 19-23 and 26-30. There will also be special events such as The Original Dickens Carolers, Santa visits, Rooftop Reindeer, the Christmas Cabaret Gala, and winter-time walks and classes on select days and times.


For more information call 616-957-1580 or visit


Avoid the Black Friday madness — plant a prairie

This beats Black Friday shopping hands down!

Photo courtesy Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve

Avoid the madness and come help the folks at Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve plant a new section of the ever-expanding Saul Lake Prairie — one of the longest-running and most successful prairie restoration projects in Michigan. Located east of Rockford, Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve was established in 1989 and comprises 123 acres.


Convenient parking and over a mile of meandering trails allow visitors to appreciate the bog, prairie, forests, and fields — and the diversity of wildlife they support — in all seasons. Participants should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants and sturdy shoes. A great family activity, appropriate for ages 12 and up. Learn More.


Event: Black Friday Prairie Planting


Saturday, November 25 | 10:00am – 12:00pm | Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve,
10471 Six Mile Road, Rockford, MI


Contact Justin Heslinga at 616.451.9476 or by email to register.


PAW Patrol Live! “Race to the Rescue” is Nov. 9 at DeVos Hall

property-header-paw-patrol-desktop-portrait-2xBased on the Spin Master-produced, hit animated TV series on Nickelodeon, PAW Patrol Live! “Race to the Rescue” brings PAW Patrol characters to the stage for an action-packed, musical adventure. When Mayor Goodway is nowhere to be found during the day of the Great Race, the pups come to the rescue. Join Ryder, Chase, Marshall, Rocky, Rubble, Zuma, Skye and the newest pup, Everest, when they take the stage for two shows at DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 10 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.


PAW Patrol Live! “Race to the Rescue” shows that “no job is too big, no pup is too small,” and shares lessons for all ages about citizenship, social skills and problem-solving as the characters each use their unique skills and teamwork. The show includes two acts and an intermission, and incorporates an innovative costume approach that brings the pups to life on stage with their vehicles and packs during the rescue mission.


The performance features up-tempo music and is considered a good introduction to live theater for young children. Classic theatrical scenery along with a high-tech video wall visually transports families to locations from the TV series, like Adventure Bay, The Lookout, Seal Island, Farmer Yumi’s Farm and Jake’s Mountain. During the show, guests have the opportunity to participate in the adventure and become a part of the PAW Patrol Cheer Team.


Ticket prices are $19.50, $29.50, $39.50, $57.50, and $112.50 for VIP. Tickets are available here, at the DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena box offices,, and by phone at 1-800-745-3000. A purchase limit of 10 tickets will apply to every order and prices are subject to change. All children ages one and older will require a ticket.


Groups of 10 or more can save $5 per ticket excluding VIP and Gold Circle seats. Groups can call 616-742-6185 or email for more information or to purchase group tickets.

Make, learn, do at Barnes & Noble’s Mini Maker Faire



Barnes & Noble Grand Rapids will host its second annual Mini Maker Faire Nov. 5 and 6 at the Woodland Mall location, 3195 28thSt. SE.


The event is designed to deliver authentic, credible experiences that Maker Faire attendees have historically come to expect. The lineup will give customers the opportunity to “Meet the Makers” by showcasing local Makers including Quota International, The Geek Group and KDL Labs to participate in interactive product demonstrations and take part in collaborative hands-on experiences designed to stretch their imaginations and creative thinking as they work cooperatively to make something original:


Make Workspace
At Barnes & Noble Grand Rapids during the Mini Maker Faire, there will be a “Make” Workspace, which is a tech-educational expo space, where customers of all ages will be able to participate in content-driven sessions where booksellers and Makers will demo some of the leading products in modern technology. Customers will be able to experience the latest in virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing, pen-invent technology, robotics, coding, programming, and more.


Make & Collaborate, then SHARE!
This opportunity is hands-on experiences around the art of designing, handcrafting and constructing, in the spirit of collaboration, cooperative learning and teamwork. “Making Materials” featured in this portion of the event will include products from some of the leading vendors in science and technology such as littleBits, LEGO®, Magformers, Squigz, Strawbees and Brackitz.


The Geek Group will be presenting at the Mini Maker Faire.
The Geek Group will be presenting at the Mini Maker Faire.

Meet the Makers
Throughout the Mini Maker Faire, Makers, educators and authors dedicated to changing the way people learn, ideate, design, create, build and embrace the future will visit Barnes & Noble Grand Rapids to speak about the Maker Movement, present their creations and more featuring Quota International, The Geek Group and KDL Labs.


Barnes & Noble first renewed its retail partnership with Make:, publisher of Make: magazine and producer of Maker Faire,  back in 2015 to build on the huge success of last year’s inaugural retail Mini Maker Faire and continue Mini Maker Faire events in 2016. The renewed retail partnership reinforces both companies ongoing commitment to advancing tech literacy and bringing awareness to the Maker Movement, with special events, educational learning experiences and promotions throughout the year, all culminating in the second annual retail Mini Maker Faire in November.


There also will be an  expanded online presence at this year, which serves as a comprehensive “site within a site,” where Making, Learning and Doing can happen year-round. The site will feature articles, video content and Maker projects that will rotate regularly.

‘Día de los Muertos: Family Day’ is Oct. 30 at the Main Library



Altars are on view Thursday, Oct. 27 to Tuesday, Nov. 1


Bring the whole family to the Grand Rapids Public Library — Main, 111 Library St. NE in Grand Rapids on Sunday, Oct. 30 and learn about the Day of the Dead holiday. You can explore the altars, decorate sugar skulls, have your face painted and do a craft. The day will include bilingual story times, live music, food from El Granjero, Lindo Mexico and Pan de Muerto provided by Panaderia Margo.


Family Day Schedule:  1:00 pm – 4:30 pm | Main Library

  • 1:30 pm Live music with Cabildo  | Ryerson Auditorium  | Level 3
  • 2:15 pm Bilingual Story Time  | Reading Room  | Level 3
  • 2:45 pm Live music with Cabildo  | Ryerson Auditorium  | Level 3
  • 3:25 pm Bilingual Story Time  | Reading Room  | Level 3
  • Ongoing Face Painting  | Children’s Library  | Level 2
  • Ongoing Sugar Skulls and Crafts  | Children’s Library  | Level 2
  • Ongoing (while supplies last) Food Sampling  | Fiction area  | Level 2
  • Ongoing Altar Viewing  | Ryerson Auditorium  | Level 3


See our previous story on Dia de los Muertos altars here.

Get ready for a whale of a party at the Grand Rapids Public Museum



Before the advent of humankind, whales roamed the oceans unfettered by humans and dangerous, man-made noises. It is said that back then, a whale in the Pacific Ocean could hear a whale singing in the Atlantic Ocean. What a world that must have been.


Sadly, those days are long gone and we have become far removed from our huge mammal friends. But the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) wants to change that. The GRPM’s Whales: Giants of the Deep exhibition’s unique blend of science, storytelling, and innovative interactivity gives visitors the opportunity to discover more about the world of whales.


Featuring two fully-articulated sperm whale skeletons, including an impressive 58-foot male, Whales showcases amazing and rare specimens from New Zealand’s Te Papa Museum’s whale collection, one of the largest in the world. Visitors will see life-size and scale models of whales common to the South Pacific as well as contemporary whalebone treasures such as weapons and chiefly adornments.


They’ll also learn about whale biology, the extraordinary evolutionary journey of whales from land to sea, and the history of whaling in New Zealand.

Children can even crawl through a life-size replica of the heart of a blue whale, the Earth’s largest living creature.

Interactive, immersive, and featuring the latest in international cetacean research, Whales: Giants of the Deep is an experience that brings adults and children eye to eye with some of the world’s most elusive creatures.


Here are some of the exhibition highlights:

  • See life-size and scale models of whales common to the South Pacific, including a beaked whale skull and a massive 58-foot, fully-articulated sperm whale skeleton.
  • Learn about the intricacies of whale biology, the history of whaling in New Zealand, and efforts being made by scientists and others to protect whales from threats of entanglement, shipping and sonar use, and the continuation of whaling practices in some parts of the world.
  • View casts of fossil whale ancestors, which show the evolutionary journey of whales from land to sea, as well as contemporary whalebone treasures such as weapons and chiefly adornments.
  • Encounter whales through video portholes, be transported into their underwaterworld via two immersive projections, and enjoy a moving film experience that tells the stories of three whale-riding traditions in New Zealand, including the famous story of Paikea featured in Whale Rider.
  • See ancient and contemporary works of art and hear stories from people of the South Pacific illustrating the powerful influence these creatures have had on human culture.
  • Tune in to a range of whale sounds and discover how scientists and amateur trackers identify individual whales on their migration through the Pacific Ocean.
  • Gain a true appreciation of the physical and behavioral traits that enable whales to make a living in the challenging and dynamic marine environment.
  • Walk among the giant—and not-so-giant—articulated skeletons of an astoundingly diverse collection of whale specimens, and then explore the evolutionary paths that gave rise to this unique group of mammals.


whale-bonesBeginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 22, Whales: Giants of the Deep tickets will be $2 for member adults and children, and $13 for non-member adults and $8 for non-member children. Admission to Whales: Giants of the Deep includes general admission to the Museum. Get tickets here.

Come to the Special Opening Party, Saturday, Oct. 22 from 9 am to 2 pm.

Visitors of all ages will have first access to the exhibit at this party coming eye to eye with some of the world’s most elusive creatures. Featuring two fully-articulated sperm whale skeletons, visitors are able to see life-size and scale models of whales common to the South Pacific, discover how scientists identify whales on their migration process and interact with a life-size replica of a blue whale, the world’s largest living creature.

Tickets to this event will include admission to the exhibit, as well as hands-on activities and performances including live animals from the John Ball Zoo, performances by traditional Maori dancers, admission to Dynamic Earth in the Museum’s Chaffee Planetarium and lunch.

Use your ticket for lunch between 11 am and 1:30 pm to eat lunch at the Museum. Lunch will include hot dogs, chips, fruit with a drink and dessert.




Non-members: Receive incredible savings for the Opening Party! Purchase a one year family membership plus 4 tickets to the event for only $80 (saving $57). To purchase a membership package call 616.456.3977.


Members are $10 for adults and FREE for member children. Non-member event-only tickets are $18 for adults and $13 for children. Limited tickets available.



Ho, ho, ho. Santa’s arrival is only two months away

kids at santa paradeIt’s October and believe it or not, the 9th Annual Santa Parade is less than two months away.


This year’s parade is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, and will head down S. Division Avenue from 33rd Street southbound to Murray Street. After the event, residents are invited to stop by Brann’s Sizzlin’ Steaks & Sports Grille, 4132 S. Division, for pictures with Santa immediately after the parade.


And there is still a lot to do in Wyoming and Kentwood in preparation for the arrival of the Big Guy. The Wyoming Kentwood Chamber of Commerce is looking for chamber members interested in helping with this year’s parade. The Chamber is looking for people who want to help in making this year’s event even bigger and better. If you are interested, contact the Chamber office at 616-531-5990.


santaIt is never too early to book your spot in the parade. It is $25 for corporate/business participants for a float or fleet car and marchers in the parade. Company information must be included for the WKTV broadcast of the parade. It is $10 for any non-profit for a float or fleet car and marchers. It is also $10 for public participants.


For questions or more information including sign up forms for parade or Chamber membership, contact the Chamber office at 616-531-5990. The Santa Parade is sponsored by the Wyoming Kentwood Chamber of Commerce.

‘Pumpkinfest in Disguise’ takes over Zeeland Oct. 7 & 8


The countdown is on for Zeeland’s Pumpkinfest — celebrating community, family fun and fall activities for over 30 years. The theme for 2016 is “Pumpkinfest In Disguise.”


The two-day event features a number of free and low-cost events that can be enjoyed by all ages, and it all happens Friday, Oct. 7 and Saturday, Oct. 8 — a departure from Pumpkinfest’s traditional three-day schedule.


For the second year, Pumpkinfest is partnering with the Holland Area Arts Council to coordinate a community art-centered project called Pumpkinfest Avenue Art, and the community is welcome to join in to express their creative talents.


On Friday, Oct. 7Dessert on Us — a celebration of community and a complimentary donut and cider — replaces the event formerly known as Dinner on Us. A sweet treat, combined with an evening of family activities, including the Kids Tractor Pull, hayrides and KidzFest events, will make for a see and be seen community event that you won’t want to miss.

pumpkins-002Then, on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 3 pm it’s time for the Pumpkinfest Parade featuring marching bands, horses, walking groups, tractors and, of course, floats featuring this year’s theme. The parade route is: West on Main Ave. from Centennial St. to State St., South on State St. to Central Ave., East on Central Ave. ending at Maple St.


Pumpkinfest also features a fun place for kids to be creative, learn and play at KidZfest. Within the KidZfest area, families will discover bounce houses, petting zoos, stage performances, pony rides and more. KidZfest will be located on Church St. just south of Main Ave.


Fans can purchase event merchandise, including collector’s edition longsleeve and short-sleeve Pumpkinfest t-shirts as well as insulated travel mugs at the Pumpkinfest Information Tent, located at 130 E. Main. Profits from merchandise sales are used to support future Pumpkinfest activities.


The complete Pumpkinfest schedule can be found here. For more info, call 616.283.0623 or email

Sensory Friendly Museum Night Oct. 4 at the GRPM

sensory-friendly-museum-nightThe Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) will open its doors free of charge to families affected by autism and other sensory-processing challenges on Tuesday, October 4th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Visitors will receive free general admission on this night to explore the Museum’s three floors of core exhibits at no cost.


Visitors will enjoy a sensory-friendly museum environment, special ArtPrize-themed activities and a free planetarium show. The Museum and the Chaffee Planetarium will adapt sounds, lighting and activities within the current exhibits to create a low-sensory experience for all.


“We are excited to be able to offer a night at the Museum to those with autism and family members to experience our exhibits in an environment comfortable for them. This allows more community members that wouldn’t usually be able to visit the Museum an experience to create lifetime memories from our sensory-friendly exhibits and artifacts,” said Dale Robertson, President & CEO of the GRPM.


The Museum is able to host this Sensory Friendly Museum Night thanks to a sponsorship from Behavioral Health.


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 showcase the vast wildlife found in West Michigan.


Take an ‘awesomely autumn’ class at the Downtown Market this October

downtown market logo


Fall is just around the corner, and you know what that means: Time to celebrate the season with classes at the Downtown Market!


For the complete fall schedule, go here. To download a pdf of classes and events, go here. (There are classes for everyone — family, kids and adults.) Meanwhile, here are just a few highlights:


autumn nights in mediterranianAUTUMN NIGHTS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
Fri, October 14, 6p-8:30p • $65

The Mediterranean always offers bright flavors and healthy meals. You’ll master an olive tapenade, herb-fresh tabouli, chicken souvlaki, and a citrus semolina cake. Learn how to select authentic ingredients and how the right olive oil can add the finishing touches to your meal. Register here.

stews and brewsSTEWS & BREWS
Tue, October 18, 6p-8:30p • $65 (21+)

Pair some great beers while snacking on Beer Nuts and make a classic gumbo, a hearty meat and bean chili, sweet cornbread and chocolate stout brownies. Register here.

pumpkin patch cookingPUMPKIN PATCH COOKING

Fri, October 21, 6p-8:30p  • $55

Celebrate pumpkins in the most delicious ways! You will enjoy some fresh-roasted pumpkin hummus while creating pumpkin sage soup, roasted herb chicken with pumpkin polenta and festive pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Register here.


Tue, October 25, 6p-8:30p • $55

In this class, you will learn how to make cocktails along with an appetizer and dessert to host the spookiest Halloween cocktail party. Learn how to make Pumpkin Cauldron Rhum Punch, Apple Cider and Bourbon Spritzers, mini pumpkin cream soup, and a fall tiramisu. Register here.

Forget Pokemon — see and touch real animals at Michigan zoos and wildlife centers

Photo courtesy of Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park
Move over, Pokemon. You’re nothing compared to the real deal.

As easy as it is to enjoy animals and nature through books and pictures, there’s just something about seeing them for yourself that is truly incredible. West Michigan is gifted with an array of indigenous wildlife as well as zoos that provide guests a glimpse into a greater world. Here are some places to see, touch and learn about a variety of animals.


Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance works closely with Binder Park Zoo to promote animal education to people of all ages. The zoo features an award-winning “Wild Africa” exhibit where you can actually feed the giraffes and see zebras. There are over 140 different species of animals throughout the 433-acre zoo.

See some birds up close at the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta. You and your family can spend time with dozens of species of birds such as swans, owls, ducks and more. There’s a great resource center where you can learn about the sanctuary’s birds as well as purchase corn to feed them.

South Haven/Van Buren County has tons of local orchards featuring petting zoos with farm animals. You can feed the chickens, goats, alpacas and bunnies that call these orchards their home. Come and enjoy the animals up close and in person while picking blueberries, sweet and sour cherries, peaches, plums, apples, and pumpkins in season. You simply can’t beat fresh fruit and hanging out with these farm animals.

Critter Barn in Zeeland has lots of baby animals in their barn. In June, three Angora goats were born as well as four lambs. The new lambs are the result of off-season breeding which is a first for Critter Barn. Come see the babies — and your kids will also enjoy pony rides and  other animal-centric events.

Photo courtesy of Lewis Farm Market


Learn about animals up close and personal in Muskegon County this summer. Lewis Farm Market has a 700-acre petting zoo with a variety of animals and birds that you can touch. The market is open through October so you have plenty of time to visit these animals yourself. There’s also a raptor rehabilitation clinic where you can learn about wildlife conservation, ecology and habitat preservation.

It’s salmon season for Stowaway Charters in Ludington. Fish the clear blue waters of Lake Michigan for trout and salmon with everything you need on board. Bait and tackle is included and they’ll even clean and bag what you catch on your return trip.

Mecosta County has a wildlife center where you can learn more about animals! This is a fantastic educational tool if you’re planning a school trip or just want to take your family on an educational trip. There’s a lot to learn about nature and the animals that inhabit it, and Mecosta County will help you further your wildlife education.

Deer Tracks Junction in Cedar Springs has some of the most unique animal experiences you can have. How does feeding a yak sound? Or kissing a reindeer? They also have many cute animals that you can cuddle up with, such as miniature donkeys, baby goats and baby bunnies. In the evenings, take their guided tour to see some of their adult animals. End your visit with some homemade ice cream made right on the farm and you’ll have a packed day.

The Outdoor Discovery Center in Holland connects people with nature through outdoor education for the benefit of wildlife and the conservation of the natural world. They protect over 1,200 acres along the Macatawa River in Ottawa County and a 150-acre nature preserve in Fillmore Township. The Outdoor Discovery Center Nature Preserve is free and open to the public and offers many diverse programs that help foster the concepts of wildlife management, conservation, outdoor education and preservation.

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park in Alto is located on 80 acres of land and offers unique, hands-on experiences for the entire family. The park boasts a distinct collection of exotic animals and reptiles, and the variety and dynamic atmosphere make Boulder Ridge anything but your average zoo. They’re open until mid-October so you have plenty of time to check out all the animals.

John Ball Zoological Garden in Grand Rapids features 1,200 animals including chimpanzees, a Komodo dragon, penguins, an aquarium, tigers, lions, bears and a children’s zoo. The zoo takes an active role in conservation, not only here in Michigan, but around the world. The zoo is celebrating its 125th birthday right now, so make sure to visit during this monumental year.

Photo by Ron Sexton


Check out some of the animals that you can see up close in Traverse City. There’s a diverse array of birds that find their way to the area. Two rare birds, the piping plover and the Kirtland’s Warbler, nest in the area. Traverse City even has a bird sanctuary and rehabilitation center that raises awareness and rehabilitates hawks, eagles, owls and other raptors.

If you’re interested in smaller flying animals, visit the Grand Traverse Butterfly & Bug Zoo. Here, you can interact with hundreds of live butterflies from around the world and see hundreds of exotic insects behind glass. the GT Butterfly & Bug Zoo is open all summer so you have plenty of time to check out all of the cool things.

The Charlevoix Area promotes animal awareness and has a family-friendly educational center that is all about hands-on learning. They also have a great fruit stand.

Located in Bellaire, Shanty Creek Resorts has 4,500 acres to explore with more than enough animals for you to find. Grab a pair of hiking boots, walking shoes or even a bicycle to enjoy the on-site trails at the resort. Keep an eye out for wildlife and make sure to document anything cool that you see. Shanty Creek also offers a free shuttle to the Grass River Natural Area (below) so you can explore there as well.

Grass River Natural Area in Bellaire offers a great place to experience local wildlife. Seven miles of trails and boardwalk take visitors up close through cedar swamp, sedge meadow and upland forest. This area is perfect for a school group, day camp and the general public. Take some time to walk through this beautiful area and enjoy all that it has to offer.


Don’t miss Yassou! Grand Rapids Greek Cultural Festival Aug. 26-28


Photo by Tim Motley

Food. Dance. Opa!

The smell of lemon, oregano and garlic fill the air as fresh meats are grilled over open flames and the sight of the pastry table proves to be more than anyone’s willpower could bear. From a great live band and dance demonstrations, to wine tastings and cooking classes, there is something for everyone at Yassou!



The food

An assortment of freshly prepared authentic Greek food and pastries will tempt even the most stubborn palate. Great effort has been put into obtaining fresh, local ingredients wherever possible, from the eggplant in the Moussaka, to the tomatoes that go on your Gyros and in your salad.


Choose from appetizers, full meals, sandwiches and side items. And do not forget dessert — baklava is only the beginning. Menu items are available as complete meals or a la carte. Prices range from $5 for most a la carte items to $14 for most complete meals.


The dance

Besides irresistible Greek food, there will be plenty of Greek dancing, a very old tradition that has been documented by Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch and Lucian. Traditional Greek dancing has a primarily social function, bringing the community together at key points of the year, such as Easter, the grape harvest or patronal festivals; and at key points in the lives of individuals and families, like weddings.

Photo by Tim Motley


Holy Trinity’s youth dancers will don traditional Grecian dress and perform some of these spectacular dances. Then, when the time is right, join hands with members of the dancing circle and join in. Beginners are always welcome.


The wine (and beer)

Greece is one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world — evidence of wine production dates back more than 6,500 years. Since that time, wines have been shared and enjoyed not only in households, but in communal celebrations. And what cultural celebration would be complete without access to the local libations?

Here’s what’s happening and when

Friday, August 26, 2016: 3 -10 pm

  • Live music from open to close, The Levendes.

  • 4 pm:  Greek cooking class.

  • 5 pm: Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (12-17 y/o).

  • 6 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (5-12 y/o).

  • 7 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (12-17+).

  • 8:15 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (18+).

  • 8:35 pm:  Dance lessons and open dancing for all!

  • 8:00 pm:  Children’s play area closes.

Saturday, August 27, 2016: 11 am – 10 pm

  • Live music from open to close, The Levendes.

  • 1:00 pm:  Greek cooking class.

  • 2:30 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (12-17 y/o).

  • 4:00 pm:  Wine tasting.

  • 5:00 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (12-17 y/o).

  • 6:00 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (5-12 y/o).

  • 6:00 pm:  Greek cooking class.

  • 7:15 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (12-17+).

  • 8:15 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (18+).

  • 8:35 pm:  Dance lessons and open dancing for all!

  • 8:00 pm:  Children’s play area closes.

2016 Yassou Sponsorship - 1(1)


Sunday, August 28, 2016: 12-4 pm

  • No live band. DJ playing modern Greek music.

  • 2:00 Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (5-12 y/o).

  • 3:00 pm: Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (12-17 y/o).


OK, so you’ve been warned. The Yassou! Grand Rapids Greek Cultural Festival is always a crowd pleaser, and this year it’s happening Friday, Aug. 26 through Sunday, Aug. 28 at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 330 Lakeside Dr. NE between Fulton and Michigan.





New Mini Exhibit ‘An Olympic View’ Opening at the Grand Rapids Public Museum

rio 2016

By: Kate Moore


The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) announced today the new mini exhibit An Olympic View will open July 23rd. With the Summer Olympics arriving soon, this exhibit celebrates the history of the Games, athletes from Grand Rapids, as well as the Brazil, the 2016 host.


This year is the first year the Olympics will take place in a South American country. An Olympic View allows visitors to learn more about Rio de Janeiro, Brazil leading up to and during the 2016 Summer Olympics. Visitors will learn about Ancient Greek history and see Ancient Greek artifacts that are part of the GRPM’s Collections. Other artifacts include insect jewelry, Brazilian coins, ancient Greek Lekythos as well as much more.


Grand Rapids Public Museum opens a new exhibit tomorrow.
Grand Rapids Public Museum readies for An Olympic View

In the modern era, 12 athletes from Grand Rapids have competed in Olympic Games. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about each of these 12 athletes, their sport and if they were Olympic medalists. In An Olympic View visitors will explore the locations of the modern Olympic Games. Visitors will pose as a gold medalist in this year’s Olympics in an interactive photo opportunity.


Admission to the mini exhibit An Olympic View will be included with general admission to GRPM. This exhibit will be on display from July 23 – August 21, 2016, coinciding with the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil.


The Museum plans to showcase several mini-exhibitions, or pop-up exhibits, each year. They are modeled after pop-up stores, and are intended to be shorter in duration, showcase something new, tie into national and current events and showcase the GRPM’s Collections on a routine basis to the community. For further details visit