Friday, July 31, 2015

Celebrate Tonight’s Full BLUE Moon with Hudsonville’s Blue Moon Ice Cream

The sky tonight will shine brightly with a Full Moon—a rare Blue Moon (the second full moon of the month of July, 2015). Holland, Michigan-based Hudsonville Ice Cream invites you to celebrate this celestial show with a scoop or two of its Blue Moon flavor.

Introduced in the mid 1950s, Blue Moon ice cream is a popular kids’ flavor because it makes their tongue and mouth turn a vibrant color, while adults like it because it evokes memories of their childhood.

“The Great Lakes Region seems to be the only place in the United States that serves Blue Moon,” says Larry Schipper of Hudsonville Ice Cream. “The flavor is actually called Blue Moon and most people equate it to an almond flavor, but I’ve had some people say they taste cinnamon or even pumpkin.”

The exact flavor profile is a deep, dark secret, and while Blue Moon is a beautiful mystery on your taste buds—matching the aura of the Great Lakes—its vibrant color and elusive flavor make it one of the most talked about ice cream flavors.

Find Hudsonville Ice Cream Blue Moon at Frosty Boy in Kalamazoo, Jersey Junction in East Grand Rapids, Ottawa Beach General Store in Holland Fantasy Twirl in Burnips, among many others. Of course, you can also purchase Blue Moon in 1.75qt containers at retail outlets around Michigan.

Started in 1895 as a farmers’ cooperative, the Holland-based Hudsonville Creamery & Ice Cream is the largest manufacturer of branded ice cream in Michigan. For more than 80 years, this Midwest company has been producing its creamy, delicious ice cream – using many of its original flavors, while at the same time creating refreshing new recipes inspired by the Great Lakes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Petoskey Celebrates Annual Festival on the Bay — Activities Planned August 14-15

Several new activities are planned for this year’s Festival on the Bay, August 14-15, in Petoskey—nestled along the shores of Little Traverse Bay. Activities are presented by the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce.

BBQ on the Bay (Saturday | 3-5pm) is an amateur grilling competition open up to 10 area teams with a tasting event that is open to the public for just $5 per person.

The Paladin Paddle Regatta (Saturday | 5pm) is a cardboard boat race meant to instill fun and excitement on the bay. No matter how fast, slow, big, small, sensible or outrageous your boat is, the first rule is that everyone have fun!

Wine on the Water (Saturday | 5-8pm) this is your chance to sample wines from the 9 wineries of the Bay View Wine Trail. Taste tickets are just one dollar. Try award-winning wines in this special area.

Silent Disco (Friday & Saturday | 7pm to Midnight). It’s all the rage! Step on into the tent, put on a set of headphones and enjoy great dance hits all night…all in your own little world. Those looking in will just see random dancing, because each person in the tent is listening to their own music on their own headset…inside the tent is quiet (except for the singing and laughing of those inside). On Friday night, Hits 106 KHQ DJ Jimmy Hot Keys will be broadcasting live from 7-9pm.

Live entertainment continues to be a major draw for festival-goers. Friday night, The Jelly Roll Blues Band kicks things off at 5pm, followed by the Petoskey Steel Drum Band at 7pm, Billy Strings and Don Julin at 9pm and The Cookies at 10pm. On Saturday, entertainment gets under way at 4pm with Knuckle Fuss, followed by Stereo Artifacts at 5pm, The Drift at 6pm, Mike Logan Comedy at 7pm (and again at 9:30pm), Galactic Sherpas at 7:30pm; The Accidentals at 8:3pm and Detroit Soul Revue closing out the evening from 10pm until Midnight.

Kids’ activities include a large petting zoo, Petoskey stone hunting, face painting, arts and crafts, card games, a youth fishing derby, bouncy house and more. The Children's Area will be open on Friday from 1-7pm and Saturday from 10am to 5pm Entry Fee is $2 per child, per day (adults free). Teenagers aged 14-18 will enjoy the Friday Night Sunset Band Jam, with local bands perform from 9-11pm including Multiverse and Orion Brill. On Saturday night, it’s the Club Electro Sunset Dance Party from 9-11pm with music from DJ DomNom and DJ Krave of D313Gation. The entry fee is $5 per person, each night.

Other events throughout the weekend include The Big Art Show, Chalk and Chocolate Festival, Canoe & Kayak The Bay, YMCA Color Fun Run, Waterball Competition, Vendors on the Midway and more. Find the daily schedule of events here.

Festival on the Bay continues its efforts to “Go Green by the Blue” with a commitment to environmental and conservancy issues and recycling efforts. Glass and plastic bottles, paper and plastic cups, and aluminum cans are recyclable at Festival on the Bay through an on-going partnership with Emmet County Recycling. Look for the recycling stations around the festival site and do your part to keep the waterfront and this community clean and green!

For hotels and lodging packages in the Petoskey area, click here.

The Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce is a business advocacy organization which has been working for Northern Michigan since 1920. Currently more than 780 businesses are invested as members of the organization and those members are served by a full-time staff of 4. Member businesses benefit from chamber services in the areas of business promotion, networking, advocacy, economic development, tourism promotion and community enhancement.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Homestead Recognized by Frommer's as Pure Michigan's Top Wedding Destination

The Homestead was recently named as the #1 spot in Pure Michigan for a wedding, according to the internationally-recognized travel media outlet Frommer’s. The ranking, “Where to Get Married: The Best Weddings in All 50 States,” highlighted just one venue in each state.

“We've put together our dream list of wedding locales,” says writers Margaret Daly and Pauline Frommer. “Some are gorgeous, some are offbeat and some simply feel like the right spot for an unforgettable union.”

America's "Freshwater Resort," The Homestead in Glen Arbor is an all-American, destination-wedding venue on the shores of Lake Michigan. Before it was a resort, The Homestead was a camp for wholesome outdoor experiences founded by a young St. Louis couple convinced that they had found the most beautiful beach of the Great Lakes. Because of its stewardship programs, a wedding at The Homestead can still be a wholesome experience—supporting this resort means supporting environmental and community programs of the region.

Others on the list include Napa Valley, The Grand Canyon, Aspen, Maui and the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina.

Frommer's, a travel guidebook series founded by Arthur Frommer in 1957, has expanded to include more than 350 guidebooks across 14 series. Other media, including the website, reaffirms Frommer's as the most trusted name in travel today.

About The Homestead
The Homestead is Northern Michigan’s largest waterfront resort community located in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the area voted by viewers of ABC’s Good Morning America as the “Most Beautiful Place in America”. Along with its unmatched natural setting and miles of frontage on Lake Michigan and the Crystal River, the resort offers guest pools, tennis and golf in the summer; downhill and cross country skiing in the winter; and shops, restaurants, meeting centers a luxurious spa and salon throughout all four seasons.

For more information, visit or call 231.334.5100. “Like” The Homestead on Facebook: and follow on Twitter at @TheHomesteadMi.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Celebrate Michigan Craft Beer Month (July) Aboard Traverse City's Tall Ship Manitou

Tap Into Weekly Microbrew Tasting Sails (thru Labor Day Weekend) and a 4-Day Michigan Craft Brew Cruise

In recent years Michigan has made a name for itself as one of the premier craft brew states in the country. What better way to partake of these fine beverages than from the deck of a beautiful vessel resting in a peaceful harbor—aboard the Tall Ship Manitou in Traverse City.

On Sunday evenings, late June through Labor Day weekend, you’re invited to sample local beers paired with fresh, hot pizza during the Microbrew Tasting Cruise. Each Sunday will feature on a local brewery—including Short’s Brewing Company, Brewery Terra Firma, Rare Bird Brewery and Petoskey Brewing. Tickets: $57 per person. Space is limited to 58 and advanced reservations are recommended.

New this year is a 4-Day Michigan Craft Brew Cruise, September 24-28. Chef and craft beer aficionado Amy Sherman will serve as host and guide for enjoying tastes with hors d'oeuvres, followed by specifically-designed food pairings with dinner.

After graduating from Aquinas College, Amy Sherman found her true calling in the kitchen. A 20-year restaurant veteran, she’s held every job possible, from ravioli runner, prep chef, book keeper, waitress, to manager, sous chef and pastry chef. She has taught cooking classes throughout West Michigan, runs a catering company called Two Chicks and an Oven, and with her husband runs the local food company, Farmlink.

As the host of the Great American Brew Trail, Amy drank her way across Michigan, one pint at a time. She currently hosts a podcast called “Behind the Mitten” with MLive’s John Gonzalez, and leads culinary adventures here in the states and Europe. Her main job, however, is being mom to three ruffians in Grand Rapids.

Tickets for the 4-Day Michigan Craft Brew Cruise are $577 per person and include all accommodations, meals and beverage samplings. Space is limited to 22 individuals in 11-double-bunk cabins.

As one of the largest sailing ships on the Great Lakes, the Manitou is a replica of an 1800s “coasting” cargo schooner. A traditional two-masted, gaff rigged, topsail schooner, Manitou measures 114 feet in length with more than 3000 square feet of sail.

There is plenty of space for sitting and moving around the decks while under sail. While aboard the Manitou, passengers are free to leave the sailing to the experienced crew or lend a hand and learn the arts of the sailor. An excursion aboard the Manitou allows you to remove yourself from the trappings of modern life: no TV, phone (cell phones are discouraged), internet, email and definitely, no itinerary.

Traverse Tall Ship Company is located at 13258 S.W. Bay Shore Drive (M22) in Traverse City and shares a dock with the fleet from the Maritime Heritage Alliance, creating a unique nautical experience for the area.

To make reservations for any of the 2015 Manitou sailing adventures, call toll free 800-678-0383, ext. 2 or order tickets online. Gift certificates are also available.

For additional information about the Manitou, including its corporate charters, log on to

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Food Dance Celebrates 20 Years of Locally-Focused Culinary & Agricultural Experiences

You’re invited to a 20th Anniversary Farm to Street Party, August 30 at Food Dance in Kalamazoo.

In honor of this long-standing tradition, Food Dance is hosting two give-back events to recognize the farmers, producers, staff and community that have been essential to their success and growth. From Noon to 4pm, a “Flavor Festival” will celebrate all things local: food, drink, music and more. Then, starting at 6pm, a community “Long Table Dinner” featuring a four-course family-style meal, each with a Michigan wine pairing, space is limited. All proceeds from both events benefit Fair Food Matters – Growing Matters Garden program.

There are tiered ticket prices for each event. Choose between $20 and $30 eco-friendly ticket for the Flavor Festival. A $20 festival ticket provides admission and 4 small plates (or 4 tickets). A $30 festival ticket also includes a Food Dance 20th Anniversary Edition Camelbak® water bottle. Additional food and drink tickets will be available for purchase at the event.

Tickets for the Long Table Dinner range from $100 to $150 per person with a portion of each ticket including a direct donation to the Fair Food Matters – Growing Matters Garden Program at Woodward School. The $150 level also includes a limited edition commemorative Food Dance 20th Anniversary T-shirt featuring local artists.

Over the years, Food Dance has built a strong relationship with dozens of local and regional growers, producers and farmers who have helped craft a one-of-a-kind menu that is fresh, inventive and appeals to the senses. Through its commitment to building a thriving and sustainable local food system, Food Dance creates casual and inviting opportunities for people to come together and connect through the experience of food.

Food Dance is dedicated to relationships that support artisans who practice craft food processes that have been around for generations—growing, raising, preserving, curing, aging, pickling, butchering and more. This is evident not only in the daily menus, but in the special dining experiences and educational programs that are aimed to introduce guests to new elements of the culinary and agricultural worlds.

An on-site market also offers amazing ingredients sourced from a family of purveyors–from sustainable, humanely-raised meats, housemade sausages and artisan cheeses, to housemade bread, pastries and savory baked goods. The market also offers a selection of speciality sauces, pickled produce, pastas, wines, cooking accessories and cookbooks, making it a great place for stocking the pantry or refrigerator, and for personal & gift shopping.

“For me it's important to know the values and practices of the people we buy our food from,” says owner Julie Stanley. “Caring for the planet, my community and my health are decisions I consciously make. I try to eat well because I just feel better. Knowing where my food comes from matters to me.”

Long before it became a trend in our society to eat locally (for so many cultures this was and remains their only choice, lucky them) I found that shopping at the Farmers Markets made the food I was cooking taste much better. Here at Food Dance, we’ve found the same rings true. I know it makes it more challenging for our chefs to prep all this fresh food and our wait staff to remember all the seasonal changes that show up on our menus, but they taste the difference so they feel it is worth it. We hope you feel the same way.”

Food Dance creates opportunities for people to come together and connect through the experience of food. We passionately cook with the freshest locally produced ingredients and believe in giving great, caring service, and providing great experiences for everyone we come in contact with.

401 E. Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo MI 49007

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Uncover Natural Wonders & Historic Treasures during a Guided Tour of America’s Emerald Isle

Discover the beauty and rich history of Beaver Island, America's Emerald Isle by taking one of two guided vehicle tours around the island. The knowledgeable and well-seasoned tour drivers will guide you through Beaver Island's beautiful scenery and intriguing history, while giving you an idea of why island life is so unique. For those not aware, Beaver Island is the most remote, inhabited island in the Great Lakes!

Tours are available Memorial Day through the Labor Day holiday, with some dates requiring an overnight stay. If taking only a day trip, you must take the first Ferry at 8:30 am in order to arrive to the Island in time to take the tour. Please refer to the ferry schedule for specific dates.

“They offer two tours of the island, by A/C bus,” says Sue from Bay City. "We took the 3-hour tour. They point out all the historical and ecological areas of the island, and tell some humorous and true (and maybe not so true…) stories of island life. You get two stops on this tour. One is at Iron Ore Bay and it is a beautiful beach. Next, right up the road, is the Beaver Island Lighthouse, which you can tour and climb to the top (50 steps or so). A good idea is to take this tour, and then either drive your own car or rent one on the island and go back to some of the points that interest you, so you can spend more time there, if desired. This is what we did.”

The 1.5 hour Standard Tour is offered most days starting at 11am and focuses on the northern end of the island and the harbor area. Tour charming St. James village including its lighthouse on Whiskey Point, shops, museums and churches. The tour then proceeds to the west side of the island to see spectacular Donegal Bay with views of High, Whiskey, Trout and Garden Islands. Finally you will pass Protar's home and tomb, learning the intriguing history of this fascinating man.

(Cost: $24 children ages 5-12; $32 for those 13 years of age and older. Tour packages, offering roundtrip passage and the tour, are $50 for children and $75 for those 13+).

The 3-hour Extended Tour begins at 1pm and includes everything encompassed by the 1 ½ tour and then continues around the entire island. Your journey to the southern tip of Beaver Island will take you through its beautiful dunes and forests and alongside several of the island's pristine inland lakes, bays and beaches. Ultimately, the tour will pause first at Iron Ore Bay for time to Beachcomb and finally visit and climb one of the oldest lighthouses on the Great Lakes—Beaver Head Lighthouse.

(Cost: $34 children ages 5-12; $42 for those 13 years of age and older. Tour packages, offering roundtrip passage and the tour, are $60 for children and $85 for those 13+).

Reservations for the tours are not necessary, but are requested as space is limited. However, sometimes there are opportunities to get on a tour the day you arrive, so be sure to ask one of the crew or stop in the ferry office to inquire about availability. To guarantee your space, please call with your preferred date and the number of passengers, or you can reserve a space on line. No deposit is required. Group tours can also be arranged, with advanced notice.

Beaver Island Boat Company has been providing the most relaxing, affordable transportation for people, pets, vehicles and freight to Beaver Island since 1984.The distance from Charlevoix to historic Beaver Island is 32 miles across Lake Michigan and takes approximately two hours. Each year the company’s two vessels, The Emerald Isle and The Beaver Islander, collectively make approximately 375 round trips to the island, travel more than 24,000 miles, transport more than 40,000 passengers, carry around 6,500 vehicles and haul approximately 10,000 tons of freight.

The Emerald Isle was designed by Timothy Graul Marine Design in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and was built in 1997 by Washburn & Doughty Associates, Inc. in East Boothbay, Maine. She is 130 feet in length, 39 feet wide, and draws 8.5 feet with a top speed of 14.5 knots and maximum capacity of 293 passengers, 14 -18 vehicles depending on the size of the vehicles and this can also include a large semi-truck and up to 95 tons of freight. She is equipped with a wheel chair lift, has in excess of 150 indoor/covered seats, five unisex restrooms, one handicap accessible restroom with a baby changing table, fixed stabilizers, power outlets, wifi and food/refreshment vending machines.

The Beaver Islander was built in 1962 by Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. out of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and was purchased new by the Beaver Island Boat Co. She is 95 feet in length, 27 feet wide and draws 8 feet with a top speed of 13.5 knots and maximum capacity of 172 passengers, 10 vehicles and 40 tons of freight. You can still ride the historic Beaver Islander on most weekends in the summer.

For a complete ferry schedule, rates and package tour details, call 888-446-4095 or log onto

For information on Beaver Island:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lake Charlevoix Brewing Company Opens In Time for Summer Season

Downtown Charlevoix is adding to its ever growing craft beer scene with the opening June 1 of the Lake Charlevoix Brewing Company.

Located at 111 Bridge Park Drive (in the south end of the building which houses the Keweenaw Star and Beaver Island Boat Company), the 1200-square-foot pub overlooks Round Lake and offers 60 inside seats and an additional 50 in the outside Beer Garden.

Lake Charlevoix Brewing Company is owned by Rich Bergmann, Adam Engelman, Aaron Hagen and Phil Parr – collectively known as The Round Lake Group LLC and is a sister property of the Bridge Street Tap Room, which opened in the adjacent building last summer.

The brewery’s 5-barrel system, purchased from Psycho Brew in Greenville, was fabricated entirely in Michigan from all American stainless steel.

“It was extremely important for us to make our investment in a company that is rooted in Michigan and utilizes American made stainless steel,” says Bergmann. “Equipment of this caliber helps us to brew beer of the utmost quality.”

The brewing team of Hagen, Parr, Evan Keller and Tanner DePriest regularly craft a variety of beer styles currently including Michigan Beach Blondie (5.1% ABV | 15 IBU) – a light bodied, easy drinking blonde with slight malty taste and aspects of a lager on the end; and Up North Pale Ale (5.8% ABV | 60 IBUs) – an IPA with citrus notes on the nose with a sweet hoppy backing.

The team will also work closely with breweries around the state for a series of collaboration beers. The first, Lake Charlevoix Sunrise, is a Grapefruit Saison made in collaboration with Our Brewing in Holland.

“We feel that collaboration beers are a fantastic way to build relationships between ourselves and other breweries,” says Engelman. “It also allows our brewing team to learn from some of the best in the industry.”

DePriest, who received a degree from the University of Michigan in Environmental Studies, manages the brewery’s environmental sustainability practices.

“The brewing process is very water intensive and we aim to offset this hurdle by repurposing and recycling all of our greywater” says DePriest, “Being as sustainable as possible isn’t just our passion; we feel it is our responsibility.”

The brewery also donates their spent grain to local farmers for use as feed and compost.

In addition to beer, a selection of wine and spirits is also served. The pub food menu features everything from shrimp cocktail, grilled panini sandwiches, and wraps to the area’s best tacos, quesadillas, and the unique Liquor Store Nachos.

Live entertainment will be hosted on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from 4 to 7pm in the Beer Garden and will feature some of the area’s top musicians.

“We couldn’t be happier to be opening our doors in such a beautiful community,” says Bergmann, “Much like our sister property, the Bridge Street Tap Room, we’re very proud to add another year round destination to downtown Charlevoix.”

Friday, June 5, 2015

Award-Winning Michigan Authors M. Christine Byron & Thomas Wilson Release Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 including Sleeping Bear Dunes

Since the early 1900s, tourism organizations and destinations have been promoting the scenic 116-mile, three-county M-22 highway for its year-round natural resources, quaint coastal towns and unparalleled vistas. The latest title from award-winning Michigan authors M. Christine Byron and Thomas Wilson, published by Vintage Views Press, is an impressive collection of the advertisements, brochures, postcards, maps and travel memorabilia used to market this treasured trail—many items of which are from the couple’s extensive personal collection.

The 248 page, hardcover coffee table book, Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 including Sleeping Bear Dunes, will be publicly released on Wednesday, June 17. A presentation will begin at 7pm at the Grand Rapids Public Library main downtown branch. A Northern Michigan Book Launch is planned on Sunday, June 21 (1-3pm) at the Cottage Book Shop in Glen Arbor.

Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 including Sleeping Bear Dunes follows a trail of vacationers and travelers along one of Michigan’s most scenic roads as it winds through northern Manistee County, along the western side of Benzie County and outlines the Leelanau Peninsula.

Vintage postcards, photographs, maps and advertisements illustrate a time when M-22 first beckoned motorists to come north to the land of beautiful beaches and sand dunes, lakes and rivers, forests and woodlands, farms and orchards. Featured are quaint towns and villages, old hotels and resorts, and attractions along the road.

Through the pages of Vintage Views Along Scenic M22, you’ll stop at lighthouses and lifesaving stations, take a trip in a dunesmobile, fish for Mackinaw trout and shop for souvenirs. You’ll also visit state parks and learn how Sleeping Bear Dunes became a National Lakeshore in the 1970s.

Christine and Tom share a love of Michigan and a fascination with its history, especially the development and growth of Michigan tourism. Their collection of antique postcards and tourist and travel ephemera has inspired a total of five books: Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 including Sleeping Bear Dunes (2015); Vintage Views Along the West Michigan Pike (2011); Vintage Views of the Mackinac Straits Region (2007); Vintage Views of the Charlevoix – Petoskey Region (2005); and Vintage Views of Leelanau County (2002).

Three of these titles have won Michigan Notable Book awards from the Library of Michigan; the West Michigan Pike also won a 2012 State History Award from the Historical Society of Michigan.

Christine and Tom are active in many heritage and travel related causes and initiatives, including consulting and contributing artifacts for exhibits with the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing; contributing to the History Detectives program at the Grand Rapids Public Library; and this summer’s historical recognition of Pulitzer Prize winning author Carl Sandburg, who vacationed in the southwest Michigan community of Harbert, in an area known as Harbor Country.

Tom also operates Vintage Views Prints, which specializes in Michigan and Great Lakes travel prints adapted from travel guides, maps and brochures, dating from the 1800s to the 1960s.

Christine retired from her position as the Local Historical Collections librarian for the Grand Rapids Public Library in 2012; Tom is retired from Sears Roebuck and Company and serves on the board of the Grand Rapids Historical Commission. Christine and Tom are members of the Grand Rapids Historical Society, Historical Society of Michigan, Leelanau Historical Society, West Michigan Postcard Club and Society for Commercial Archaeology.

The couple lives in a 1912 Arts & Crafts bungalow in East Grand Rapids and they love spending as much time as possible touring Michigan’s scenic roads or vacationing at their cottage on Glen Lake on the Leelanau Peninsula. They are regular contributors to Michigan BLUE Magazine, penning a column called “Vintage Views” which highlights historic travel destinations around the Great Lakes State.

Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 including Sleeping Bear Dunes
ISBN: 978-0-9962173-0-9 Michigan History ($40).

Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 including Sleeping Bear Dunes

Wednesday, June 17 (7pm)
Book Launch – Grand Rapids Public Library (Main Downtown Branch)

Sunday, June 21 (1-3pm)
Northern Michigan Book Launch – Cottage Book Shop, Glen Arbor

Thursday, July 2 (1-4pm)
Leelanau Books, Leland

Thursday, July 16 (TBA)
Northport Historical Society

Saturday, July 18 (11am-1pm)
Leelanau Historical Museum, Leland

Thursday, July 30 (TBA)
Lansing Historical Society @ East Lansing Public Library

Friday, July 24 (2-4pm)
Happy Owl Bookshop, Manistee

Saturday, July 25 (1-3)
Black River Books, South Haven

Friday, July 31 (4-6pm)
Horizon Books, Traverse City

Sunday, August 2 (TBA)
Old Settlers Picnic Area, Burdickville

Saturday, August 8 (10am-4pm)
Port Oneida Days, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Leelanau Peninsula)

Friday, August 21 (7pm)
Empire Area Heritage Group, Empire Town Hall

Thursday, Sept. 10 (4pm)
Benzie Area Historical Society @ The Mills Community House, Benzonia

**To book a program in your community, please contact Dianna Stampfler, publicist, at

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub Enhances Outdoor Patio, Expanding Grill Night to Every Wednesday & Thursday Nights

It is outdoor dining season and you’re invited to gather with family and friends on the patio outside Winston’s Pub at Schuler’s Restaurant in historic Marshall.

“Last year our grill night was a hit and this year we decided to amp it up a bit,” says third-generation owner Hans Schuler. “Not only did we make improvements in the patio itself, but we’ve increased the grilling option from one to two nights to accommodate the requests from our guests.”

The 700-square-foot patio features a generous outdoor grilling space, along with 34 seats for guests stretching out along Eagle Street. Guests can order from the regular pub menu, seven days a week, with weekly grill specials from David Frame on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The patio will be open, weather permitting, through the early fall season.

Founded in 1909, the iconic Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub epitomizes hospitality excellence as a family owned and operated business. Located in downtown historic Marshall, Schuler’s is recognized as world-class Michigan destination focused on offering guests quality food and excellent service, in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Friday, May 29, 2015

HELP WANTED: Jolly Pumpkin & North Peak Looking to Expand Team Presence Throughout Michigan, Ohio

Business is booming with the Michigan-based Northern United Brewing Company (NUBC)—producers of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, North Peak Brewing Company, Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, Nomad Ciders and Civilized Spirits. The Dexter-based company is looking to add several jobs in its sales and operations departments.

“This is an exciting time for all areas of Northern United Brewing Company” says Tony Grant, co-owner for the company. “All our brands continue to grow at a rapid pace, both in terms of what we have available at our pubs but also in the retail marketplace. We’re looking for qualified, passionate and engaging team players who want to help us develop a stronger presence in Michigan and beyond.”

This year, Jolly Pumpkin celebrates its 11th year as the country’s first and premier all-sour brewery, with award-winning products such as La Roja, Bam Biere and Oro de Calabaza, artfully crafted by master brewer Ron Jeffries at a new state-of-the-art facility in Dexter. Jolly Pumpkin pubs also operate in Traverse City, Ann Arbor and the newly opened location downtown Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood.

North Peak was founded in Traverse City in 1997 (with production of bottled beer starting in 2009) and since then has launched more than a dozen unique products, each with ties to Michigan folklore and legend. Grizzly Peak is yet to be introduced into the market in a distributed format, but in 2014 North Peak Brewing Company released its “Grizzly Peak Series” in 12-ounce stubby bottles, and this year the Ann Arbor brew pub celebrates its 20th year.

The Nomad Cider line grew out of the North Peak brand to stand on its own in 2011. Civilized Spirits was formed in 2010 and currently produces a variety of craft liquors including whiskey, vodka, rum, gin and sakura. Both of these brands are crafted on the Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City.

Complete descriptions for jobs with Northern United Brewing Company can be found online at

NUBC encompasses the Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, North Peak and Grizzly Peak beer brands, Nomad Ciders, Civilized Spirits and Bonafide Wines, all dedicated to conservation, inspiration and locally sustainable practices.

Find NUBC products at stores, restaurants, and bars all throughout Michigan, including: Blue Tractor, North Peak Brewing Company, Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, all in Traverse City; Jolly Pumpkin and Grizzly Peak, in Ann Arbor; Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery in Detroit; and Null taproom in Dexter.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Valentine Distilling Named “Best American Gin Distillery” at Berlin Competition

Liberator Gin & Liberator Old Tom Gin Continue to Win Medals

Detroit-based Valentine Distilling was been named “Best American Gin Distillery” at the Berlin International Spirits Competition held in March in Germany.

Additionally, Valentine’s Liberator Gin and Liberator Old Tom Gin took medals at the competition, which drew close to 200 spirits from 20 countries. Fewer than 35% of the entries received awards. The competition was judged by a hand-selected panel of key trade-only judges—spirits buyers, retail storeowners, restaurant proprietors, spirit distributors and importers that have the unique ability to make a direct impact on sales.

Judges represented world-renowned cocktail establishments such as Schwarze TrMixology Bar (Berlin), Rex Bar & Grill (Sweden), Pollen Social Street (London and Becketts Kopf-Bar (Amsterdam) among others.

The judging took place in the Kempinski Berlin Hotel and awards were given by majority vote. The judges were instructed to grant no awards when, in their opinion, the spirits were not ones they would import, distribute, buy or sell in their business and within the price category.

Since first being introduced in 2013, Valentine Distilling’s gins have continued to garner awards from esteemed international competitions.

The Beverage Tasting Institute this year presented a Gold Medal (with an “Exceptional” rating of 93 points) for the Liberator Old Tom Gin and a Gold Medal (with an “Exceptional” rating of 91 points) for its Liberator Gin during the 2015 International Review of Spirits competition, held in Chicago in April.

The judges described the small-batch Old Tom Gin as possessing “bright amber colors, with bright, fruity, spicy aromas of carrot cake, cedar forest, sassafras, and mixed peppercorns.” The judges continued by attributing the handcraft spirit with producing “a satiny, vibrant, warming and complex finish of cinnamon roll, nutmeg, and cream, with a moderate amount of oak.”

“Old Tom Liberator Gin is an attractive hybrid of a fruity, spicy gin and an American whisky,” says Jerald O’Kennard, Director of “This Old Tom will be fun to experiment with.”

The clear Liberator Gin was found to possess “lively, spicy, fruity aromas of cinnamon carrot cake, orange custard, spiced apples, with floral herbs, and an elegant, white peppered, honeyed tea finish.”

“I am excited to be once again recognized by industry peers as top of the class in world spirit competition,” says founder/distiller Rifino Valentine. “It’s always a good feeling to be recognized by peers in your industry. But, what I am most proud of is that our distillery is able to continue in the tradition of quality Detroit manufacturing, and that we are able to export products that rival anything produced around the world. I’m thankful to have a very dedicated and talented staff who help make this happen.”

The Beverage Tasting Institute was established in 1981 as America’s premier independent alcoholic beverage review organization, and states that its mission was to create fair and reliable reviews of wine and spirits.

In 2014, Liberator Old Tom was named “World’s Best Cask Gin” by the World Gin Awards. This follows on the heels of the traditional Liberator Gin winning “Best in Class” and “Best in Category” – “Best American Gin” – by the American Distilling Institute in 2013.

Aged in American oak barrels for two years, Old Tom Liberator Gin has an aroma of juniper and pine, with hints of oak, woody spices and citrus peel. The initial bursts of juniper berries are mellow and tame, and are followed by touches of vanilla, citrus, cardamom and cinnamon.

“Our goal from the beginning has been to return to the times that America led the world in the manufacturing of quality products,” says Valentine. “What made our economy great was that the highest grade products in the world came from here in the United States. If we are going to make an impact on the US economy in today’s marketplace, we need products that not only compete on a state and national level, but ones that stand up internationally as well. Our philosophy has always been ‘don’t drink Valentine spirits just because they are local – drink them because they are better.’”

“Old Tom Gin” (or “Tom Gin” or “Old Tom”) is a gin recipe popular in 18-century England. In modern times, it became rare but has experienced a resurgence in the craft cocktail movement. It is slightly sweeter than London Dry, but slightly drier than Dutch Jenever, thus is sometimes called “the missing link.” Unlike many gins which are produced in a column still today, Old Tom Gin is provided in a pot still.

Liberator Gin is named in honor of the B-24 Liberator Bomber. Early in World War II, Ford Motor Company built the Willow Run plant near Detroit to produce the B-24 Liberator – cementing Detroit’s nickname as the “arsenal of democracy.” Carefully hand-crafted, this delightfully-unique gin salutes Rosie the Riveter and all the American workers who helped secure victory.

Valentine Distilling launched into the Michigan market in early 2009 and has since been ranked one of the top-rated craft distilleries in the country. Operating out of a 5000-square-foot facility in Ferndale, Valentine Distilling proudly produces its original spirits in two world-class Christian Carl Stills. Valentine Distilling products can currently be found in more than 3000 locations throughout Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee, New York, Maryland, Delaware and Washington DC as well as internationally in Italy, France and Belgium.

Keweenaw Excursions Offers Multi-Day Lighthouse Cruises through the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are home to hundreds of lighthouses, dating back to the mid-1800s. You’re invited to view them from the Keweenaw Star on one of five multi-day cruises this season offered by the Charlevoix-based Keweenaw Excursions.

“We feature an open air top deck and a full walk around the lower deck to provide you with an optimal view for photographic purposes,” says Jason Funkey, who owns the company with his brother, Kraig.

All trips include the cruising experience as well as continental breakfast, hot lunch and afternoon appetizers on the boat, overnight accommodations and transportation from the boat to the hotel and back each day.

To book a charter, contact the Keweenaw Excursions office at 231-237-9365.

This year’s schedule includes:

“Explore The Door” (June 22-25)
$750 per person for double occupancy | $850 per person for single occupancy

The Keweenaw Star is setting sail to explore Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula and the waters of Green Bay. Our trip departs Charlevoix on Monday June 22nd and heads due west to our first lighthouse viewing at South Fox Island. From South Fox we continue west across Lake Michigan to Rock Island Passage where we view Pottawatomie Lighthouse. Turning north from here we slip past St Martin Island Lighthouse and Poverty Island Lighthouse for a close up view and pictures. After viewing Poverty Island we head to Escanaba and the Terrace Bay Inn and Suites for our first night’s stay.

On day 2 we head south out of Escanaba past the lighthouse at Minneapolis Shoal. From Minneapolis Shoal we make our way through the famed “Deaths Door” to view the lights at Plum Island and Pilot Island before coming back in to the Bay of Green Bay for a quick view of Chambers Island Lighthouse. From Chambers Island we make our way over to Port of Marinette and head up the Menominee River to the shipyard to view any new construction at Marinette Marine. From Marinette we make our way back across Green Bay passing Peshtigo Reef Lighthouse and Sherwood Point Lighthouse headed into Sturgeon Bay for our second night’s stay at the Stone Harbor Resort.

Day 3 is a free day in Sturgeon Bay. Explore Bay Ship and Palmer Johnson shipyards, Door County Maritime Museum, the “Best of Door County” trolley tours, or just relax by the pool as we will again stay at the Stone Harbor Resort for our 3rd night.

Day 4 takes us out of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal past the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Lighthouse and Entrance Light before making our way back across Lake Michigan to the Manitou Passage. We make our way past South and North Manitou Lighthouses, and then close approach to Grand Traverse Point Lighthouse before heading back to Charlevoix.

“Sights Of The Sunrise Side” (July 13-16)
$750 per person for double occupancy | $850 per person for single occupancy

New for 2015 we have an exciting trip to explore the sunrise side of the state. Our journey will set sail from Charlevoix, Michigan headed to our first port of call on Drummond Island. Along the way we will pass under the Mackinac Bridge and past the lighthouses at Ile Aux Galets, Gray’s Reef, White Shoal, St Helena, Round Island, Martin Reef, and Detour Reef. Our accommodations and dinner will be at the Drummond Island Resort and Conference Center.

Day 2 of this trip will take us to the port of Alpena. We will start off traveling through the island filled Potagannissing Bay and into the North Channel. Once in the North Channel we will make our way east to Lake Huron via the Mississiagi Strait. Our route takes us past the Mississagi Strait lighthouse and out to the lighthouse on Great Duck Island where we will turn and make our way back across Lake Huron to our port of Alpena for the night. Our accommodations and dinner will be at the Sanctuary Inn.

Day 3 will start out with a tour of the NOAA Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. Upon completion of the tour we will board the boat and make our way up the coast to our next port of call in Cheboygan. Traveling up the coast we will pass the lights at Thunder Bay Island, Middle Island, Old Presque Isle, New Presque Isle, 40 mile point, Poe, Reef, and 14 foot Shoal. Our lodging for the evening will be at the Fleetwood Inn Hotel on the historic Cheboygan River.

Day 4 of this trip will bring us back under the Mackinac Bridge, past the lights at Mackinaw City and Waugoshance Point as we make our way back to our home port of Charlevoix. There should be plenty of opportunities for ship watchers as well as we will pass through some of the most congested waters for shipping on the Great Lakes. We also will be passing some of the busiest stone loading ports including Stoneport and Calcite as we make our way along the east coast of Michigan.

“Soo Grand Tour” (July 20-23)
$700 per person for double occupancy | $800 per person for single occupancy

Our voyage will begin in Charlevoix, Michigan on the 20th of July. We will travel north to get close up views of the lighthouses at Ile Aux Galets, Gray’s Reef, and White Shoal. Turning east we will make a close approach to St Helena Island Lighthouse before making our way under the Mackinac Bridge and down the South Channel to our port of Cheboygan for the night.

On the second day as we depart Cheboygan we will get close up views of the Cheboygan rear range light, 14 Foot Shoal, and Poe Reef lighthouses. Continuing northeast we will pass close to Spectacle Reef Lighthouse as we make our way over to the entrance of the St Mary’s River at Detour. From here we will travel through Potagannissing Bay and make our way over the north side of St Joseph’s Island. Along the way we will pass the lighthouses at Bruce Mines, West Sister Rock, Wilson Channel Ranges and Shoal Island before entering the St Mary’s River at the Middle Neebish Cut. Our day will end in Sault Ste. Marie with our lodging and dinner at the Kewadin Casino of Sault Ste Marie.

Day 3 will take us up through the locks at Sault Ste Marie to the head waters of the St Mary’s River at Ile Parisienne, where we will turn and make our way back to port at Sault Ste Marie for another night and dinner at the Kewadin Casino.

Day 4 takes us down the St Mary’s River through the famed Rock Cut and out to Lake Huron where we head west past Martin Reef Lighthouse and Waugoshance Reef Lighthouse on our way home to Charlevoix.

“3 Days 3 Great Lakes Cruises” (August 3-5; additional dates may be added)
$550 per person for double occupancy | $650 per person for single occupancy

Cruise the Northern Lake Michigan coast from Charlevoix to Sault Ste. Marie. Day One we depart Charlevoix and make our way north through Gray’s Reef passage then east through the Straits of Mackinac. Passing under the Mighty Mac, we continue east to Detour Reef Light where we will enter the St. Mary’s river. We will navigate the narrow channels and ranges to our destination of Sault Ste. Marie. With more cargo passing through the Soo Locks than the Panama and Suez canals combined there is an excellent chance we will see some of the largest ships in the world passing in close proximity to us. Upon arrival in Sault Ste. Marie, we will head for the Kewadin Casino and Hotel where we will enjoy a night of fun and entertainment.

Day 2 we board the boat after a breakfast buffet at the casino hotel. Our tour will take us up the St. Mary’s river passing through the Soo Locks where we will be raised 21 feet up to Lake Superior. Exiting the locks, we will travel north into Lake Superior to the head waters of the river at Ile Parisienne Lighthouse. At Ile Parisienne, we turn around and head back to our dock in Sault Ste. Marie where again we will stay at the casino for another night of fun and entertainment.

Day 3, the final day of our excursion, we will enjoy a breakfast buffet at the casino then board the boat for our return trip to Charlevoix. Along the way we will be passing through the famed “Rock Cut” in the St Mary’s river.

“Colors Of The St. Mary’s” (September 28-30)
$475 per person for double occupancy | $550 per person for single occupancy

Due to the unpredictability of Mother Nature’s wind this time of year we decided it would be best to depart from the protected waters of the St Mary’s River. There are several small motels along M-134 in the towns of Cedarville and Hessel which are close to Detour, or you can just spend the night in St Ignace, only 50 miles away, prior to departure.

From the State docks in Detour we will head north through the hundreds of tree filled islands of Potagannissing Bay. Colors should be spectacular as we make our way to the North Channel of Georgian Bay. Once in the North Channel we will make our way over to the Canadian town of Bruce Mines to view the lighthouse at McKay Point. From here we will head west past Sister Rock lighthouse and through the narrows of the Wilson Channel and proceed over the north side of St Joseph Island. Just past the Shoal Island lighthouse we will enter the St Mary’s river in the Middle Neebish Channel where we will proceed up bound to Sault Ste Marie. We will make our way through the locks and on to Lake Superior where we will turn and head back down the Canadian Lock and over to our dock for the evening.

Our second day will be an option day. Option 1 will be to board a bus for a color cruise to the Great Lakes Shipwreck nautical museum at Whitefish Point and Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Option 2 will be to stay and play or whatever you would like to. The casino operates a free shuttle which could bring you down to the Soo Historic Sites including the Museum Ship Valley Camp, Tower of History, or make your way over to the viewing platform at the Locks for close up views of transiting freighters. Our third day we will make our way back down the St Mary’s River with passage through the famed Rock Cut to our dock at Detour where we will disembark for home.

About the Keweenaw Star
Operating since 2000, Keweenaw Excursions is owned and operated by brothers Jason and Kraig Funkey. The company originated in Houghton, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and moved to Charlevoix in 2009. With a capacity of 130 passengers, the Keweenaw Star offers a range of cruises from mid-May through mid-October, including sunset tours, sightseeing trips and multi-day lighthouse and ship-watching cruises. The boat is also available for private charters, for events such as corporate outings, weddings, rehearsal dinners and reunions.