Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall in Love with Autumn Camping in Michigan

Fall is a perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors at one of Michgan’s privately owned campgrounds. Here, campers seek out area farm markets, u-pick orchards and other agricultural destinations that dot the landscape.

Whether they’re looking for pumpkins, gourds and cornstalks to decorate their campsite, apples for baking aromatic and mouth-watering treats, or that perfect bottle of Michigan wine or beer to pair with a harvest meal, campers will find the area farms and agricultural destinations have just what they’re looking for.

Activities, such as wagon rides, haunted houses and corn mazes are popular for families this time of year. What better way to spend a fall day than walking over crackling leaves through an apple orchard or pumpkin patch in search of harvest goodies. Why not make a visit to one of the historic lighthouses that grace a Great Lake shoreline – especially one that is rumored to be haunted such as White River Light Station, Grand Traverse Lighthouse or Saginaw River Lighthouse.

Autumn activities, such as kayaking, canoeing, hiking, biking, horseback riding and golf, are also of interest as campers look for exciting ways to take in the full spectrum of the fall season. Colors can also be viewed from the sky, with a ride in a hot air balloon, glider or airplane at various locations around the state. Even the state’s ski resorts are getting into the action, offering chair lift rides throughout the color tour season.

Campers are encouraged to take a fall color tour, traveling along the scenic byways (and off the major highways), with camera in hand. West Michigan Tourist Association has outlined more than two dozen color tour routes on its website. Travel Michigan offers similar types of routes, under the header “Driving Tours.” Local chambers and visitor bureaus also offer information, such as driving routes and attractions of interest.

In the Kent County area, online brochures are available for the Kent Harvest Trails and Fruit Ridge Farm Markets. The Southwest Michigan Tourist Council has online versions of both their fall color tour map and U-Pick/Farm Market Brochure. The “Taste the Local Difference – Select Northwest Michigan” directory is also available for online viewing. The Michigan Department of Agriculture also publishes an online PDF directory to the state’s Farm Markets, U-Picks & Agricultural Tourism destinations. There’s even a website that directs you to the finest apple farms throughout the state, as well as tours of the state’s finest wineries and breweries.

For more information on fall destinations and activities, check out these websites:
Fruit Ridge Farm Markets
Kent Harvest Trails
Michigan Apple Tours
Michigan Brewers Guild
Michigan Cider Guild
Michigan Department of Agriculture
Michigan Festivals & Events Association
Michigan Hard Cider Club
Michigan Wine Council
Southwestern Michigan Tourism Council
Taste the Local Difference
Travel Michigan
Upper Peninsula Tourism & Recreational Association
West Michigan Tourist Association

ARVC represents 225+ member campgrounds with nearly 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 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.

Photo by Terry Phipps.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Boyne Mountain’s Skitoberfest Offers Michigan Brewfest and More

Boyne Mountain Resort is hosting the first annual Skitoberfest, October 3-4, in celebration of fall and the coming winter season. Event highlights include a brewfest featuring nearly a dozen Michigan breweries, bratwursts of 30 varieties and gourmet food, live music and dancing, a meet and greet with Winter X-Games gold medalist, Simon Dumont, and former U.S. Ski Team Coach, Greg Needell, and a day filled with family activities.

Staged in the Village, the event kicks off on Saturday at 2 p.m. Michigan craft brewers including Short’s, Bell’s, Founders, Arbor, Mt. Pleasant, Tri-City, Arcadia, Michigan, New Holland, Frankenmuth, and Wolverine, will be serving up a variety of their best beers until 7 p.m. To soak up the frothy brew, there are 30 varieties of bratwursts, made and grilled by Tannery Creek Meat Market of Petoskey, as well as specialties offered by Boyne City restaurants, Red Mesa Grill, 220 Lake Street, Sammich N’ Sudz and Lake Street Market. Admission to the brewfest is $20 and includes a Skitoberfest pint glass and 12 tickets toward beer sampling and food items. From 8 p.m. till midnight, the brewfest transforms to a classic beer tent with a cash bar and entertainment by Charlie’s Root Fusion.

Michigan wine tasting is also being offered with twenty-four regional wines and gourmet food prepared by Boyne Mountain including domestic and imported cheese, sushi, smoked whitefish dip, cured elk sausage, smoked beef and asparagus croustade, among other hors d’oeuvres. The event’s unique ‘wine room’ is open 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and entry is $5 plus a dollar per wine tasting.

Skitoberfest attendees can also enjoy local art, family hayrides, a pumpkin patch, fall color chairlift rides, and a parade.

A Snowsports Summit, hosted by BOYNE Ambassador of Skiing and 2008 U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame inductee, Cary Adgate, provides the opportunity to meet freestyle skier and Winter X-Games gold medalist, Simon Dumont, and former U.S. Ski Team coach, Greg Needell. Entry to the Summit is $5 per person.

Lodging values on Boyne Mountain hotel accommodations offered from $69 and condominiums and cabins are also available. For complete Skitoberfest details and reservations, please visit or call 800.GO.BOYNE (462-6963).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fennville Goose Festival Celebrates Silver Anniversary: October 9-11, 2009

The community of Fennville, in Allegan County – Southwest Michigan, is ramping up to celebrate its Silver Anniversary Goose Festival, October 9-11, 2009.

Locals and visitors alike are invited to celebrate Fennville’s historic ties to the thriving geese population at the 25th Annual Goose Festival. Attendees are treated to a wide variety of activities throughout the weekend, including a craft show, parades, carnival, Loose Goose Trolley, Wild Goose Chase 5k Run & Gosling Run, live entertainment, pet show, dog show, car show, and much more.

Highlights for the Silver Anniversary include:

• The first ever Goose Festival Queen & Gosling Princess (Announced on Friday, October 9)
• Diego Soulz & Rhythm (7pm on Friday, October 9)
• The Scotville Clown Band (Marching in the parade and then two 45-minute stage performances on Saturday, October 10).
• Funktion (6-9pm on Saturday, October 10)
• John Dudley - Magician & Balloon Animal Artist Extraordinaire (Noon on Sunday, October 11)
• Goose Calling Demonstration with 5-year-old Tyler Schut (3:30pm on Sunday, October 11)
• Los Bandits (5:15pm on Sunday, October 11)

A complete schedule of events is now available online at

While the first Goose Festival wasn’t held until 1984, Fennville – affectionately referred to as “Goosetown” – has been a haven for the migratory Canada geese as far back as the 1930s. During that time, the geese would stop to feed and rest at what was then the A.M. Todd Farm. Albert May Todd was the world-leader in the production of mint and other oils; the property just south of Fennville was one of his multi-acre mint plantations.

In 1949, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources purchased the Todd Farm, acquiring additional farms in the area up through 1970. Their intent was to establish The Farm Unit, which included a hunting area and a wildlife refuge, serving as a waterfowl management area.

In the 1930s, the estimated number of Canada geese to congregate at The Farm was around 1000. In recent years, fall counts have exceeded 25,000 birds at one time. Through the course of a single season, the refuge serves more than 100,000 geese. These migrating geese usually begin their occupation of the refuge in early September, with the greatest visitation occurring from October to early November. Some, however, have found The Farm Unit a suitable setting to spend the winter. Between 10,000 and 20,000 geese have been known to winter here, in central Allegan County.

The Farm, located at 6013 118th Avenue in Fennville, today boasts a total 3650 acres – of which 1300 acres are maintained as a refuge. The Farm Unit provides a unique opportunity view large numbers of geese flying, feeding and resting in a natural setting. Few places allow people to mingle so closely with wildlife such as this.

For more information:
25th Anniversary Fennville Goose Festival:
City of Fennville:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Hits a Speed Bump

If you happen to be driving in downtown Kalamazoo this fall, there is a Speed Bump you want to make sure you hit! The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is proud to welcome Speed Bump: The Comic World of Dave Coverly, opened on Saturday, September 5, 2009.

Dave Coverly admits there is no overriding theme, no tidy little philosophy that precisely describes what his Speed Bump comic strip is about. “Basically,” he says, “if life were a movie, these would be the outtakes.”

Through wit and whimsy, Dave Coverly reveals the truths of the human experience, from the workplace to family life and beyond. See original daily and Sunday cartoons - each explained with Coverly’s quick-witted humor, and experience what its like to be Dave Coverly with a mock ‘work station’ where creativity collides with paper. Also on view will be Coverly’s illustrations for Sue MacDonald Had a Book, written by Ann Arbor resident Jim Tobin. Admission to this exhibition is free.
Want to know more about what inspires Dave Coverly? Grill him yourself at one of these upcoming events:

• Friday, September 18, 2009 – Art & All That Jazz: Join us at this popular KIA-sponsored event, now in its seventh season. Enjoy music by the famous Kalamazoo reggae band Zion Lion. Soft drinks and Panera Bread treats are provided. Dave Coverly will be on hand to discuss his works and sign copies of Sue MacDonald had a Book (available for purchase in the KIA Gallery Shop.) Other guests include Gordon Alt, Director of the John Cavanaugh Foundation and curator for In Search of Motion, another exhibition that officially opens on September 19th at the KIA. Art & All That Jazz is at 5 – 7 p.m. in the KIA lobby. Tickets are $3 for the public, and free to KIA Members.

• Tuesday, November 3, 2009 – ARTbreak: Join Dave Coverly as he discusses his career and the evolution of Speed Bump, now appearing in over 200 newspapers. With no set theme or characters, Speed Bump is one of the most quirky and original comics today with Coverly creating situations where “the everyday and common place that we take for granted suddenly appears hilarious.” 12:15 p.m. in the KIA auditorium. Admission is free. Bring a lunch! Cookies and lemonade are provided.

• Saturday, November 7, 2009: Is your child an aspiring cartoonist who would like a helping hand from a pro? The KIA Kirk Newman Art School is proud to have Dave Coverly teach two cartooning workshops for kids! Geared towards children in grades 3-6 and 7-12, students will learn various cartooning techniques and create their own cartoons. Registration is now open and space is limited! For more information and to register, please visit or contact the school secretary at (269) 349-7775 Ext. 3101.

• Saturday, November 14, 2009 – Family Funday! Formerly known as Sunday Funday, the KIA invites families to meet Dave Coverly and take a tour of his work. Guests will also have the opportunity to create their own cartoon! Also visiting with Dave will be Jim Tobin, author of Sue McDonald Had a Book, which Coverly illustrated. Both Jim Tobin and Dave Coverly will autograph their book which will be available for purchase in the KIA Gallery Shop. 2-4 p.m. Admission is free.

Dave Coverly grew up in Plainwell, Michigan and began cartooning seriously in 1986 as an undergraduate student at Eastern Michigan University. In 2009, he won the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, the highest honor given by the National Cartoonist Society.

You can currently enjoy Coverly’s cartoon, which runs daily in the Kalamazoo Gazette.
The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts would like to thank the following sponsors for bringing great artists like Dave Coverly to Kalamazoo: Creators Syndicate, First National Bank of Michigan and Heritage Community of Kalamazoo. Family Funday is sponsored by Target.

For more information about the KIA, visit or call (269) 349-7775.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
314 South Park Street
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007