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The Grand-Pappy of GR Festivals


EST MICHIGANDERS DON’T shy away from the heat of sum- mer — with close to 50 outdoor festivals on the calendar for summer 2011, we downright embrace it. Festival of the Arts, located in the heart of downtown

Grand Rapids, exemplifies the city’s “go, see, do” attitude. Festival of the Arts stands proud as

Grand Rapids’ oldest festival. It began in 1970, just a year after Alexander Calder’s graceful red structure was installed in front of City Hall. “I don’t want to take all the credit,

Festival of the Arts Downtown Grand Rapids June 3-5


but I really think Festival started the whole arts movement in Grand Rapids,” said Eileen Schwarz-Duty publicity co-chair. Festival is also one of the largest volunteer-run events in the nation. It, (616) 459- 1300

takes anywhere from 12,000-15,000 volunteers to pull Festival off. “It’s fun and rewarding,” Schwarz-Duty said. “You’re helping some

people experience art for the first time.” A three-day blast of local art, music, dance and food, this event explodes

with all the sensory details a good festival should. More than a million Grand Rapidians meander back and forth between the six performance areas throughout the weekend. “You can sit at any given stage for a couple of hours and see a di-

verse range of acts,” Schwarz-Duty said. “There could be Greek dancers or singers from the West Michigan Gay Men’s Chorus. It really sets Festival apart.” The food booths also set

the Festival apart. Not only is traditional festival fare like french fries and elephant ears offered, but attendees should expect an eclectic variety of ethnic selections. Some cuisines, like Mexican and Italian, sit familiarly on the tongue; others — Australian and Somalian, for example — are more exotic. This year, the Festival

teams up with the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) to offer families an epicenter for children’s activities, such as storytelling and hands-on projects. The Festival is also the perfect time to check out the GRAM if you’ve never been — admission is free. “Festival is an affordable way for families to see the arts,” Schwarz-

Duty said. Most of the Festival is free. The activities and performances don’t cost

a dime, so you’ll only pay for food or art purchases. “When you buy something from an art or food vendor, you’re supporting

non-profits and artists, so how could that be bad?” Festival of the Arts runs June 3, 4 and5 in downtown Grand Rapids.

—Meghan McAfee

Waterfront Film Festival Saugatuck June 9–12 (269) 857-8351

Ranked as one of the top five film festivals by SAG, the Waterfront Film Festival in Saugatuck is the must-see event of the summer. Set on the coast of Lake Michigan, see independent filmmakers’ work in a relaxed environment.

Vicksburg Old Car Festival Vicksburg June 10,11 (269) 649-1701

The Vicksburg Old Car Festival is celebrat- ing its 31st year this summer with cars, art and music. Starting off the celebration on Friday June 10 with live oldies music and old cars, the Festival shifts into full gear on Saturday with the Old Car Show Festival, Steam & Gas Engine Show, Arts & Crafts Show, and Live Entertainment. Enjoy the uniqueness and heritage of Vicksburg in the restored downtown area.

Cereal Festival Battle Creek June 10–11 (269) 962-2240

What appears as a simple celebration of ce- real turns out to be much more. The Battle

Creek Cereal Festival aims to celebrate the heritage of the city and welcome people of all ages. Events include a car show, healthy living activities, the unveiling of the “World’s Longest Breakfast Table” and a main stage where live music will be played throughout the day.

Fiber Arts and

Animals Festival Marshall June 11 (269) 749-9404

The Fiber Arts and Animals Festivals of- fers an educational venue for the public while allowing people involved in the fiber industry a chance to sell their art. Offering several different exhibits througout Michigan, there is a chance for everybody to attend. It will also feature the “Encore Alpaca” exhibit where people will have the opportunity to see alpacas, yarn, roving and raw fiber.

Spring Lake Heritage

Festival Spring Lake June 14–18 (616) 881-2882

An array of events are featured including a car show, a dog walk, an ice cream social and many more. With a full list of events, this festival welcomes people of all ages.

Harborfest South Haven June 16-19 (800) 764-2836

Approaching the 20th year of Harbor Fest, people will be celebrating South Haven’s eccentric maritime history. Activities will range from free live music all weekend long, craft fair, art and antique market, dragon boat racing, a pancake breakfast and kids activities.

White Lake Area Arts

and Crafts Festival Whitehall June 18,19 (800) 879-9702

Enjoy Father’s Day weekend at Goodrich Park Annex where the 33rd annual White Lake Area Arts and Crafts Festival will take place. Located on White Lake in Whitehall, your family will get to view juried art work while looking over the scenic lake.

Art in the Park Kalamazoo June 25 (269) 349-1185

This is a one-day show that began in 1990 and has drawn between 4-6,000 shoppers each year since then. With more than 200 vendors that work in a variety of media,


June brings summer and, with it, the festival season. With our festival guide, you’ll find something fun for everyone. From the funky blues to pow-wows, from renaissance fairs to rapelling, it’s all happening during the hot upcoming months. This June in Michigan promises to be festive and fun; here are some highlights.

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