Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Michigan Camp Sites Available for Upcoming Memorial Day Holiday Weekend

There are plenty of camp sites – for tenters, RVers and cabin-dwellers – available at private campgrounds from New Buffalo to Metro Detroit to the Straits of Mackinac and throughout the Upper Peninsula for the upcoming holiday weekend.

A list of those campgrounds with availability for the Memorial Day holiday weekend is available online.

The summer season officially kicks off May 22 with the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend, when 1.1 million Michiganians are expected to be on the open road, according to AAA Michigan.

ARVC represents 225+ member campgrounds with more than 32,000 sites available throughout the state. Whether pitching a tent, parking an RV or reserving a rustic or modern cabin, Michigan campgrounds offer a great way to disconnect from busy lives and reconnect with families. Campers in Michigan enjoy the great outdoors while fishing or canoeing on the countless lakes, rivers and streams or hiking, biking and riding on the miles of trails that wind throughout the state. There’s definitely no shortage of activities, no matter where the campground is located.

The 2009 Michigan Campground Directory, published by ARVC – Michigan, is now available at various locations statewide, including all Welcome Centers. A PDF version is also available for viewing online at The directory not only lists campgrounds by region, but also includes helpful information on the type of sites available, various amenities such as restroom, laundry and dumping station facilities; recreational offerings such as pools and golf courses; and seasons of operation. Campgrounds that now offer wireless internet access onsite are also identified.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kanoe the Kazoo 2009

Since 2003, the highly successful Kanoe the Kazoo float trips down the Kalamazoo River and its tributaries have introduced hundreds of citizens and officials to the beauty of the river and to the recreational and economic opportunities it presents.

Kanoe the Kazoo continues in 2009 with a series of canoe trips beginning in May and continuing throughout the summer. On Saturday, May 30, 2009 the public is invited to canoe/kayak the lower Kalamazoo River from New Richmond to Douglas. The trip will take approximately two and a half hours and will travail one of the most beautiful stretches of the river.

Paddlers are instructed to meet at the public access site located at New Richmond. The easiest way to get there is to take Old Allegan Road east off of 58th Street just north of Fennville. Old Allegan Road dead ends at the launch site. Vehicles will be staged at the city park near the Center Street launch in downtown Douglas and transportation will be leaving Douglas at approximately 9:30am to take paddlers back to New Richmond. Participants should arrive at New Richmond by 8:00am to drop off gear and register for the trip.

This particular Kanoe the Kazoo event also marks the grand opening of the first segment of the Kalamazoo River Watershed Heritage Water Trail. To commemorate this event there will be a 30 minute presentation at the city park in Douglas starting at approximately 9:00am. There will be light snacks and refreshments served at this event and all paddlers are encouraged to attend. The bus back to New Richmond will leave Douglas when the ceremony is complete. For more information on the Heritage Water Trail project please visit this Web site:

The Kingman Museum has agreed to handle advanced registrations for all Kanoe the Kazoo events in 2009. Registration for the New Richmond to Douglas trip is $5 per boat (not including canoe/kayak rental) and can be made on line by visiting the Kingman Museum Web site:

Reservations can also be made by calling the museum directly at (269) 965-5117. Registration for this trip will also be taken on site the day of the event. Participants in need of canoe or kayak rental are instructed to call Old Allegan Canoe Livery at (269) 561-5481 or Running Rivers Kayak Rental at (269) 673-3698. Information regarding all of this year's Kanoe the Kazoo trips can be found at the Kingman Museum's Web site.

The New Richmond to Douglas trip is being hosted by the Allegan County Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department and the Allegan Conservation District. If you would like further information about this trip, please contact Kevin Ricco at the Allegan County Parks and Tourism Office at (269) 673-0378 or Tina Clemons at the Allegan Conservation District at (269) 673-8965 ext. 3.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kalamazoo River Watershed Heritage Water Trail Opens First Trail Segment

Allegan County Parks and the Allegan Conservation District, along with several other partners, are pleased to announce the grand opening of the first segment of the Kalamazoo River Watershed Heritage Water Trail. An official opening ceremony will take place at 9:00am on May 30, 2009 at the City of Douglas Park, which is located in downtown Douglas. Speakers for the event will be Dr. Dave Lemberg, Associate Department Chair, Department of Geography, Western Michigan University; Mr. Jeff Spoelstra, Executive Director, Kalamazoo River Watershed Council; and Kevin Ricco, Director, Allegan County Parks, Tourism & Economic Development.

For the past two years this partnership group, which also includes the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council, the Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Potawatomi RC & D, Calhoun Conservation District, Michigan State University Extension, Kalamazoo County and Calhoun County, has been working on turning the entire Kalamazoo River watershed into a State of Michigan designated Heritage Water Trail. Dr. Dave Lemberg from Western Michigan University, appointed by the Michigan Department of History, Arts, and Libraries as the heritage water trail coordinator for the State of Michigan, has been working with us to help move this incredible project forward.

This first completed segment, which will run from New Richmond in Allegan County to Saugatuck, will include 18 historically and/or ecologically significant sites, including information on the New Richmond Bridge, lumbering, the fruit industry and Singapore, just to name a few. Each site will be represented by individual signs posted along the river near their general location. There will also be more detailed information about each site, along with photos and detailed river maps, on line at

"The Kalamazoo River and its tributaries represent a significant part of our region's heritage", states Kevin Ricco, Director of Parks and Tourism for Allegan County. "This project will not only educate visitors about this heritage but will also serve as an economic driver by bringing more visitors to the area to experience this wonderful natural resource."

When complete, the project will include water trail maps and guidebooks that will cover the entire Kalamazoo River main stream and its major tributaries.
There will also be signs posted along the river pinpointing the heritage sites that will be included in the guidebooks. In Allegan County, the Heritage Water Trail will include the Kalamazoo River main stream from Plainwell to Saugatuck, as well as the Gun River and the Rabbit River. This project will continue to enhance the tremendous natural resource that is the Kalamazoo River Watershed and will help to develop tourism and tourism-related businesses along the river.

This project also represents a great opportunity for businesses and organizations that have an interest in the Kalamazoo River watershed to advertise in a new and exciting way. Each site included in the Kalamazoo River Watershed Heritage Water Trail project is available for site sponsorship. Site sponsorships are available at a cost of $500 for a three year sponsorship. A sponsorship will include advertising space on the selected site sign as well as in the completed guidebooks. At this time we are encouraging any business or organization interested in sponsoring one or more sites on the Heritage Water Trail to contact Jeff Spoelstra, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council, at 269-978-4606.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

St. Julian's new Simply Pink Wine Raises Awareness & Funds for National Breast Cancer Foundation

Simply Pink – the newest wine from St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw – may perhaps be the most personal wine that David Braganini has ever released. Through a sponsorship with the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Simply Pink is dedicated to the memory of Julia Meconi Braganini (1926-1971)

“It is with a glass in my hand and a tear in my eye that I dedicate our new Simply Pink table wine to the memory of my mother, Julia,” says St. Julian President, David Braganini. “Mom fought the good fight for a number of years before finally succumbing to breast cancer at the much too young age of 45.”

Julia was the daughter of Mariano Meconi, the founding father of what is now St. Julian Winery. Shortly after WWII, she met Apollo Braganini, a veteran of the Army Air Force. They married in 1947 and eventually had five children, including David – who has been running the day-to-day operations at St. Julian since 1978.

“The entire St. Julian family is committed to helping women and their families in the fight to cure breast cancer,” says Angela Braganini, St. Julian Director of Public Relations. “St. Julian will make a donation from every bottle of Simply Pink sold to the National Breast Cancer Foundation so that someday soon we may rid the earth of this dreaded disease which took my grandmother’s life.”

The National Breast Cancer Foundation mission is to save lives by increasing awareness of breast cancer through education and by providing mammograms for those in need.

Simply Pink, a delicious, semi-dry blush wine is the perfect wine for sipping on the patio on a warm summer evening or next to the fire on a cold winter night. Serve slightly chilled to experience an explosion of summer fruit and berry aromas like strawberries and apple blossoms, with tropical fruit and Red Haven peach flavors. The bursting acidity is complimented by a touch of honeyed sweetness. St. Julian will produce 1200 cases of Simply Pink, which is made with a blend of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. This refreshing wine will pair well with grilled foods and lighter fares.

The family-owned St. Julian winery, Michigan’s oldest and longest-operating winery, was founded in 1921. It is one of 12 wineries to make up the Lake Michigan Shore Appellation – a designated American Viticultural Area (AVA) and is part of the Southwest Michigan Wine Trail.

Simply Pink (12% alcohol | pH: 3.54 | acid: 8.0 g/L | residual sugar: 2.2%)

St. Julian Wine Company:
National Breast Cancer Foundation:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Save the Ta-Tas - Premier Skydiving Boogie Benefits Breast Cancer Research & Awareness

On Friday, July 10, experienced skydivers are invited to make as many jumps as possible (sun up to sun down) and raise funds by collecting pledges for their total number of jumps.

Student tandem jumps are offered throughout the day on Saturday & Sunday, July 11-12.

(5% of that fee donated to benefit breast cancer awareness/research)


Video and photographs are available for an extra charge.

An experienced skydiver is available to jump with a personalized 8’ x 5’ flag in memory or honor of your loved one(s). You get to keep the flag and you will receive a photograph of the jump. Cost: $75 for an individual or $100 for a business.

To make reservations (and pay the $50 deposit), call:

Premier Skydiving…Come Feel the Rush!

Founders Fest ’09: A Celebration of Beer & Music

An estimated 5000 fans of award-winning craft brews will gather on Saturday, June 20 for the 2nd annual Founders Fest outdoor beer and music festival in downtown Grand Rapids. From 3-11pm, the street (Grandville Avenue between Williams and Bartlett) will be blocked and the grounds of the brewery secured for the festivities.

“We had a blast with our first Founders Fest last year,” says Mark Dorich, Festival Coordinator and Director of Retail Operations. “We are excited to celebrate with all our friends again.”

A variety of regional entertainment will rock this year’s Founders Fest, with nationally-recognized Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe as the headliner. Other performers include UltraViolet Hippopotamus, Four Finger Five, Chance Jones, Total Blam Blams, Oracle, Back Forty, Red Frog and Mucca Pazza.

Founders Fest is a celebratory “thank you” to Grand Rapids and West Michigan for making Founders what it is today. Founders Brewing Company has been a part of the Grand Rapids scene since 1997 and has grown its brewing tradition from its modest beginnings to most recently being rated the 7th best brewery in the world.

“We are proud of how we’ve grown over the past 12 years to become not just a local name but a serious contender on the regional and national beer scene,” says Founders President Mike Stevens. “Our crew is making some of the best beer in America and Founders Fest allows us to toast those efforts with our friends and family.”

Admission for Founders Fest is $15 ($10 for 2009 mug club members), for those 21 and older. Tickets will be available at the gate.

Founders Brewing Company, at 235 Grandville Avenue SW in downtown Grand Rapids, is a proud member of the Michigan Brewers Guild.

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe
UltraViolet Hippopotamus
Four Finger Five
Chance Jones
Total Blam Blams
Back Forty
Red Frog
Mucca Pazza

History Goes High-Tech Along Allegan County Heritage Trail

The award-winning Allegan County Heritage Trail has taken on a new twist…as the 28 sites along the 122-mile route all feature “caches” for the increasingly popular activity geocaching.

According to, “Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) devices. A geocacher can place a geocache anywhere in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache's existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS device can then try to locate the geocache. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers and then share your experiences online.”

The caches on the Heritage Trail route were placed throughout 2008 by avid geocacher, John Sexton from Holland, who is also a Sergeant with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department and a member of the Michigan Geocaching Organization (MiGO). He said he came across the Allegan County Heritage Trail tour book at the Old Jam Museum, while obtaining permission to place a geocache there.

“After looking through the tour book, I discovered that Allegan County has many historical areas that are not well known,” Sexton says. “I quickly decided to combine my favorite hobby of geocaching with the history of Allegan County in hopes to bring people to these interesting locations.”

The 28 landmarks along the Allegan County Heritage Trail route truly reflect the historic character which makes Allegan County unique. Among those sites are a WWII Prisoner of War Camp (Site #6), a Civilian Conservation Corps Pine Plantation (Site #9) and the “ghost town” of Pine Creek just west of Otsego (Site #2).

Geocache container sizes range from film canisters, often called "microcaches", which are too small to hold anything more than a tiny paper log, to five-gallon buckets or even larger containers. Typical cache treasures are not high in monetary value but may hold personal value to the finder. Aside from the logbook, common cache contents can include coins, small toys, ornamental buttons or other trinkets.

Considered a great family event, geocaching was introduced in 2000 and has attracted thousands of people to search for the nearly one-million caches worldwide. Caches are hidden in major metropolitan areas to remote rural locations, including difficult terrain areas. All caches registered on include the GPS coordinates as well as a ranking as to how difficult it is to find.

Sexton’s fellow geocachers also enjoy seeking out the various sites, as they post their comments on

“WOW… I have lived in Allegan County had have a little history of the military, but I had no idea that we had a POW camp here.” – The Burch Crew

“Lived in Allegan County for 10 years now and never knew where the dam was, just new it was somewhere.” – Jupiterkid

“Learned that Fennville was named after a man named Fenn. I bought the Heritage Trail booklet at the library for $3.00 … hope to do some more of these Heritage geocaches since they are so interesting.” – Sniffles

“Decided to hit the Heritage Trail today. Love where these caches in the series take me.” – Bjoan

“Enjoying our day of caching on the Heritage Trail. Thanks for the cache and history lessons.” – 2OtterRits

“Fascinating history attached to this spot. A German POW camp!! I was surprised to learn that many of the POWs stayed on after the war.” – Bjoan

“We think this was the most interesting stop on the Heritage Tour that we’ve done so far. Mars is quite a history buff, especially when it comes to military history. Never knew this about Allegan. Thanks so much for teaching us something new.” – Jupiterkid

“Another pretty spot on the Heritage Trail. Good to get back to these objectives. Lived in Wayland for several years and never knew about this dam and hydroelectric plant. What a beautiful day to cache.” – Bjoan

“The Allegan County Heritage Trail is a great way to experience the best that Allegan County has to offer,” says Kevin Ricco, Director of Parks & Tourism for Allegan County. “The addition of geocaching to each of the sites on the trail adds yet another level of fun and interest to the tour.”

A project of the Allegan County Tourist Council and its Heritage Preservation Advisory Board, the Allegan County Heritage Trail and the official 38-page guidebook were unveiled in May 2003, followed by a companion CD in the fall of 2004. Both the guidebook and CD feature interviews with county residents, written and oral histories and a collection of photographs. Brown directional signs can be found along the route and in 2007, informational panels were erected at the various locations to provide greater detail about the history of the area.

The tour is a loop route that runs from Saugatuck east across the farmlands of northern Allegan County and on through the towns of Hopkins, Wayland and Martin, down to Plainwell. From there, the trail heads back along the Kalamazoo River through Otsego and Allegan, then past Lake Allegan and through the Allegan State Game Area. The tour continues past orchards and vineyards to Lake Michigan, and then up the lakefront back to Saugatuck.

This self-guided tour is designed to be driven in a clockwise direction, which provides the best scenic vistas. Figure on taking a full day if you plan to tour the entire route, stopping to view the various sites and enjoy the experiences along the way. Driving non-stop, it would take you about 4-5 hours to travel the route. Of course, stopping to geocache along the way may add to one’s overall time.

The Allegan County Heritage Trail Tour Book sells for $3; the CD set is $12. Both may be purchased at the Allegan County Parks and Tourism Office, area libraries, and other locations throughout the county. To learn more about the route, visit

The Allegan County Tourist Council was formed in 1982 and serves to market and promote the county’s rich travel, tourism, hospitality, cultural and heritage resources. For more information on Allegan County, call 888-4-ALLEGAN or visit

Friday, May 1, 2009

Great Food & Fine Wine Featured at Northern Michigan Morels & More Outings

(Walloon Lake, Mich) – Hunting morel mushrooms among wild flowers while birds celebrate their return north, with the odors of the forest coming to life makes Spring especially stimulating to all the senses.

To experience it all, a MORELS & MORE weekend at Springbrook Hills near Walloon Lake is an interesting, informative outing that guarantees a lot of fun, fine wine and good food. The weekend includes guided morel hunting, wild mushroom lore, and making new friends that also enjoy nature and the outdoors.

Outings are set for May 1-3, May 8-10 & May 15-17. Cost is $197 per person and includes two nights lodging in convenient vacation homes, morel information & guided hunt, all meals including Leelanau & other Michigan wines and our special mushroom dinner. Groups of 6 or more, $185. If no lodging is required, $145 complete. Extra nights lodging available at $25 per person.

For a complete vacation, stay extra days and enjoy world-class golf at great rates, fantastic fishing in nearby streams, rivers and lakes, or for added thrills try canoeing, kayaking or rafting. Experience a perfect Spring Tonic with us!

Morels & More
P.O. Box 219
Walloon Lake, MI 49796
(231) 535-2227

King’s Challenge Golf Course Under New Ownership

Top golf coming to Michigan’s Leelanau County

GLEN ARBOR, MI — A deal has been struck. Papers have been signed. The King’s Challenge Golf Course in Cedar is now under new ownership and promises to become one of the top golf destinations not only in northern Michigan but in the entire United States.

“The course is now owned by a group of local investors with a profound interest in having exceptionally high quality golf in Leelanau County,” says Bob Kuras, president of The Homestead in Glen Arbor and the man named to head the new operation.

Set amidst green meadows and the rolling, hilly hardwoods forests typical of the county, this Arnold Palmer “signature course” was already regarded by local golfers as secluded, scenic, and as serenely beautiful as it was challenging and rewarding to play. Those who played the old King’s Challenge and thought it a good course are going to be delighted with what’s coming, according to Kuras.

Right now there are only three other public golf courses remaining in Leelanau County: the Dunes Golf Club in Empire; the old course at Sugar Loaf course; and The Leelanau Club at Bahle Farms.

Investors in this project are not simply looking to add another course to the roster. The goals, according to Kuras, are to create nothing less than a golf course that can compete on a national level, which should serve to boost tourism in Leelanau County, employment opportunities for local residents, and increase revenue for local businesses.

A long and ambitious list of improvements is under way, starting with a thorough upgrade of the already beautiful course with help from the Arnold Palmer Design Company and Wadsworth Golf Construction Company, two of the most respected firms in the business.

“The quality of Palmer’s work is known throughout the world. And, Brent Wadsworth is a friend and seasonal neighbor who has built 800 golf courses including those at some of the most prestigious clubs in the world. We are fortunate to have Brent as an adviser, and contractor,” says Kuras.

In addition to the work on the course, substantial interior and exterior renovations to the clubhouse will go hand-in-hand with plans to provide food and beverage services featuring local products. A cart pavilion, staging area, and new maintenance building will also be constructed.

In keeping with a long tradition of responsible environmental stewardship and protection of the region’s natural resources, all of the improvements are being planned, built, and managed to qualify for the Audubon International’s Cooperative Sanctuary Program and the LEED (the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance, according to Kuras.

“We’re anxious to open the course,” says Kuras. “Construction will begin May 1, 2009.” The work will be done in stages to allow the course to reopen as soon as possible this year.