Celebrate the Harvest in West Michigan — there’s plenty to see and do

garden_bounty-251211432_stdFall is here and there are plenty of things to see and do. Indeed, September is the beginning of the harvest season in West Michigan, and we’re fortunate to have a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at our fingertips. Visit one of the many farmers’ markets that pop up all over the state featuring fresh and local produce. Or visit a farm or orchard and gather fruits and vegetables yourself. Businesses are hosting harvest-themed events to kick off the season, so it’s the perfect time to stop by for some food and fun. Many fresh fruits and vegetables await you throughout this fall in West Michigan.


St. Joseph will host its Fall Festival in Downtown St. Joseph on September 23rd and 24th. There is fun for all ages with events like The Great Pumpkin Festival, Day on the Farm, Farmers Market and more. There is also a Wine Festival Stage where you can sample Michigan wines, try local cuisine and listen to live music while bidding on your favorite piece of public art.


The Greater Lansing Area has plenty of farmers markets. If you’ve ever wondered where to find fresh, local and organic produce this season, look no further — there are 20 different markets across 14 towns. Each farmers market has its own unique vendors, so make sure to visit more than one so you can try all the fresh fruits, vegetables and baked goods that we have right here in West Michigan.


meijer-gardensThe Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance is celebrating the harvest with a variety of events. Enjoy locally grown produce, flowers and homemade treats at one of Marshall’s farmers markets and visit a farm to create the perfect day trip for the whole family. Here’s another idea: Go for a hayride or get a pumpkin as your prepare for Halloween.


Historic Charlton Park in Hastings will host the city’s Fall Harvest Festival from September 23rd to 25th. Demonstrations and events include steamed apples, a tractor pull, corn shelling and more. For a fee, you can even camp at the park to have the ultimate fall harvest experience.


Since September is the beginning of harvest season, Mecosta County has plenty for you to enjoy. You can get fresh fruit and vegetables, and there are events throughout the harvest season where you can stop by and enjoy a little harvest of your own. The farmers’ markets in this area offer wonderful produce displays, which change as the seasons do.


When it’s officially fall, it’s officially time for the Virtue Cider‘s inaugural Apple Fest! This four-day celebratory cider-filled affair is from September 29th to October 2nd at their farm in Fennville. Each day has a variety of activities centered around apples, the harvest season, and the release of Percheron, their cider named for the traditional draft horses of Normandy that pulled carts of apples for cidermakers. Activities include their Thursday Night Market, Barbecue Night, long-distance bicycle ride and more.


You can’t have a great meal without great ingredients. Reserve Wine & Food in Grand Rapids considers themselves fortunate to have an abundance of area farms who grow and raise responsibly, and they do their best to honor and respect that hard work in their kitchen. They have a long list of local suppliers. Check out some of them below.

  • Blis Gourmet Products, Grand Rapids
  • Field and Fire, Grand Rapids
  • Hasselman’s Honey, Fremont
  • Michigan Mushroom Market, Petoskey
  • Vertical Paradise, Caledonia

rockfordRockford’s 40th Annual Harvest Festival is September 24th to 26th. There will be a car show, beer tents, crafters and more. There’s plenty for children as well, with an outdoor movie, kid’s tractor pull and other family-centric offerings. All of the festival’s activities are spread out across downtown Rockford as they celebrate the harvest in style.


The Fremont Harvest Festival hosted by the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce is September 22nd to 24th. More information will be available soon for this harvest-filled event so keep an eye out.


Celebrate the harvest in Grand Rapids with Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s annual celebration of autumn, Chrysanthemums and More! from now until October 30th. The event is the largest of its kind, and features an expansive chrysanthemum display, fall foliage and family activities. Vertical columns of colorful chrysanthemums, a vibrant wall of chrysanthemums, chrysanthemum spheres and beds of colorful plants await to delight visitors from all over.


The River Country Chamber of Commerce invites you to their Inaugural Harvest Moon Celebration in Newaygo from October 7th to 9th. This event celebrates the rich farming history of the area. There will be plenty of local food, scarecrow and pumpkin decorating and kids activities. The area has been celebrating the harvest for decades and this year they’re inviting you to celebrate with them.


The Muskegon County Convention & Visitors Bureau has classes and events featuring freshly harvested local produce.

  • Learn how to preserve foods by canning and freezing at the Preserving the Harvest class on September 20th. Share recipes, techniques and stories while making new memories of your own.
  • Halloween is right around the corner and the Halloween Harvest Weekend will get you in the mood. Hosted at Pioneer County Park from September 30th to October 2nd, enjoy a weekend filled with games, pumpkin decorating, a costume parade and more. Why not prepare for Halloween early with this spooky event?

great-pumpkinRobinette’s Apple Haus & Winery in Grand Rapids is planning a very special Corn Maze this year. Opening September 8th with a special viewing of “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” the maze is designed to look like Snoopy as the Red Baron on his dog house. Over 80 farms across the country will be celebrating Peanuts this year. Make sure to stop by on September 24th from noon to 4pm for a special guest appearance by Snoopy himself.


The harvest season is very important to SE4SONS Gastropub. Located within Muskegon Country Club, SE4SONS focuses on its name: the four season. Changing the menu seasonally is part of the excitement surrounding this restaurant. Their new menu features beets (red, gold and candy stripe) and Roasted Spaghetti Squash. Come hungry.


And be sure to save room for dessert. In an effort to celebrate this noteworthy harvest, Chocolates by Grimaldi, a Grand Haven-based chocolate factory, is offering a special chocolate caramel apple for a limited time. They’ll also have chocolate-covered blueberries, cherries and an assortment of nuts. Chocolates by Grimaldi is committed to using local products whenever possible so what you’re enjoying will come from the Grand Haven, Traverse City and other nearby farms and orchards.


Traverse City has several big events to help you celebrate the harvest.

  • On September 24th, the Acme Fall Festival takes over Flintfields Horse Park in Williamsburg. There will be a farmers market, bake sale, craft show and more fall fun for the entire family.
  • Scarecrows, art, local brews and tunes help celebrate the harvest time at Bellaire’s 18th Annual Harvest Festival on September 24th. This event will have local businesses competing to win the “Best Scarecrow” award. These scarecrows will take over the streets of Bellaire so you’re guaranteed to see some of these zany creations. Additionally, there will be the “craft & flea” market with over 40 vendors, the Boy Scouts’ Pancake Breakfast, kids’ bounce houses, educational hands-on booth and local food vendors.
  • The Harvest at the Commons is October 8th in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. This culinary event is perfect for any foodie looking to get together with friends, neighbors, farmers and community leaders to celebrate everything Northern Michigan has to offer.

tc-farmers-marketLet Chateau Chantal share their excitement of the harvest with their 17th Annual Harvest Day on October 1st. There are plenty of ways to experience this fantastic event, including overnight packages at their Bed & Breakfast, special pricing on full case orders, wine and cooking seminars and more. Chateau Chantal will even be opening its doors so that you can smell their wines, stomp grapes and tour their cellar.


Harvest season has arrived in Charlevoix. Explore one of the many farms or farmers markets, each with their different harvest activities throughout September and October. There are plenty of “U-Pick” farms where you and your family can pick your own bushel of apples or find the perfect pumpkin in preparation of Halloween.


Also in Charlevoix, the 38th Annual Charlevoix Apple Festival is from October 14th to 16th. Celebrate nature’s harvest at this fun festival which highlights seasonal fruits and vegetables, freshly made products and, of course, apples. There’s plenty of kids activities so this is the perfect time to get the whole family together for some autumn fun.


The Petoskey Area celebrates fall with two harvest festivals.

  • The Fall Harvest Festival in Downtown Boyne City is September 24th. Fall means one more reason to have fun in Boyne City with music, crafts and fall produce available at this celebration. The farm market booths sell a variety of apples and other harvest items including pumpkins, squash, apple butter, jam, honey and cider.
  • Located in Downtown Petoskey, the Hemingway Harvest Festival is from October 14th to 16th. The festival pays tribute to the many years that Ernest Hemingway spent growing up in Petoskey with fall activities modeled around the late writer’s hobbies. From the artisan and farmers market to Hemingway Movies in the park, this promises to be a weekend that Hemingway would love.

A Unique Harvest

When you think about the harvest season, fruits and vegetables are usually the first things to come to mind, but one harvest that you should think about is honey. Honey is harvested in the late summer months and into the middle of September. Different types of honey are made in different parts of the world, so what is made in Michigan might not be available elsewhere. With this honey, some Michigan businesses have been making mead. Mead, sometimes called Honey Wine, is fermented honey and is the original alcoholic beverage, predating both beer and wine. All that mead contains is honey, but sometimes fruit, herbs or spices are added to make different flavors.


White Lake Area has their own meadery. Meads go by different names based on how they are created. Meads with only honey are called Traditional Mead, Fruit meads are called Melomels and Metheglins are meads with spices or herbs added. The world of mead is available at your fingertips when you visit the White Lake Area.


Almost 32 years ago, St. Ambrose Cellars in Beulah started keeping bees and quickly became full time beekeepers. As beekeepers having access to an almost unlimited supply of honey, mead was a natural course to follow. Over the years, with the help of local winemakers in our region, a knowledge of good wine-making technique was acquired and applied to mead making. In 2010, an accident in mixing of of their creamed honey spreads pushed them into action to create St. Ambrose Cellars. In 2010, they built their tasting room and increased their production. Over the years St. Ambrose Cellars has increased their scope, but their quality mead has stayed consistent the entire time.