Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Michigan's River Ridge Campground Celebrates 20 Years as Family-Owned Park

The Staley family, owners and operators of River Ridge Campground in Breckenridge invite you to celebrate their 20th Anniversary the weekend of May 20-21.

The weekend includes “Roll Back Prices” on rates – meaning water/electric sites are just $14 per night and water/electric/sewer sites are just $18 per night. Cabins are 20% off as well. Campers can also enjoy special activities throughout the weekend, including cake and ice cream and special prize drawings held at 20 after the hour at select times.

River Ridge Campground ranks among the “Best RV and Tent Campgrounds in the USA” according to Frommer’s – with the maximum four stars in all areas: beauty, spaciousness, security, insect control, site privacy, quiet, cleanliness and facilities. “River Ridge Campground offers two important camping ingredients – quiet and cleanliness” says author Robert W. Sehlinger.

For 2011, River Ridge was one of only a handful of campgrounds in Michigan to be named a 4-W park by Woodall’s and has held this level of ranking for several consecutive years.

Dan and Louella Staley first opened River Ridge Campground in 1991 and built it up as one of Mid-Michigan’s premier camping destinations, with their son Mark serving as park manager. Situated on 20 acres along the scenic Pine River, River Ridge offers 150 RV sites (electric, water, sewer options) and two rustic cabins – each ideal for up to five people, along both paved and unpaved roads.

Other amenities include: heated pool with hot tub, spring-fed pond, fishing, boating (rental kayaks, paddleboats, tubes available), playground, laundry facilities, fire pits, picnic tables, basketball, badminton, horse-shoes, volleyball, sports field, rec hall, camp store, dump station, wireless internet and plenty of family-based activities throughout the season.

Located midway between Midland and Mt. Pleasant, River Ridge Campground is a member of the Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) – Michigan and National ARVC.

1989 W Pine River Rd.
Breckenridge, MI 48615

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chef Angie K of Blue House Bistro in Holland Recognized by National Restaurant Association

Angie K Anderson, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Blue House Bistro in Holland, has been named a national finalist for the National Restaurant Association (NRA) 2011 American Dream Award, which honors individuals from a diverse background who, through hard work and determination, have realized the American dream.

The story of Anderson's rise through the restaurant and hospitality industry – from her humble beginning as a line cook in New Orleans to owning and running her own boutique restaurant in Holland, Michigan – caught the attention of the NRA award judges and continues to inspire the people Anderson interacts with daily.

“The restaurant industry is one of the most diverse industries in America, and prides itself on providing opportunities for individuals of all backgrounds and cultures,” said National Restaurant Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney. “We are celebrating that by honoring these individuals and companies with our 2011 Faces of Diversity awards. It is a true pleasure to recognize their personal and professional achievements, which underscore how hard work and determination lead to success in our industry."

The award is one of two Faces of Diversity Awards, created by the NRA and PepsiCo Foodservice to recognize the restaurant industry's commitment to diversity and to celebrate individuals in the restaurant industry who are achieving the American dream.

Anderson began her craft in a small bar and grill as a line cook in New Orleans in 1997, quickly learning and growing more and more skilled in cooking as she worked in different restaurants within the city. Eventually, Anderson found herself in Holland where she opened her first restaurant, The Grass Cup Cafe in Graafschap, in early 2006. When an opportunity to establish a restaurant in downtown Holland became available in 2008, Anderson closed the Grass Cup and put all her efforts into restoring an historic building at 220 W. 8th Street.

Blue House Bistro opened in May 2010 and in its first year of operation, has drawn attention from local foodies and media. In his online review, Rob Kirkbridge of GRgrub.com said Angie K’s menu at Blue House Bistro was “truly one of the best meals I’ve had in West Michigan.”


Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 960,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of nearly 13 million employees. Together with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Association works to lead America’s restaurant industry into a new era of prosperity, prominence, and participation, enhancing the quality of life for all we serve. For more information about the Faces of Diversity awards program, visit www.restaurant.org/diversity.

Three Students Awarded Kent County Lodging Association Scholarships for Hospitality Education

(l-r) Brandi Kushuba, FSU; Erin Lecker, GVSU; Gabrielle McMaster, FSU.

The Kent County Lodging Association (KCLA) has announced the recipients of its 2011 / 2012 Hospitality Education Scholarships. A total of 5 applications were received from students representing three different educational institutions. Three students were awarded scholarships for the upcoming academic year at the KCLA April 21 meeting held at the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Grand Rapids.

This year’s recipients include:

• Erin Lecker
Grand Valley State University (sophomore from Saginaw, Mich)
Major: Hospitality & Tourism Management
Minor: Spanish
Scholarship Amount: $1000

• Gabrielle McMaster
Ferris State University (sophomore from Pinconning, Mich)
Major: Resort Management
Minors: Club Management; Special Event & Meeting Planning
Scholarship Amount: $500

• Brandi Kushuba
Ferris State University (sophomore from Grand Blanc, Mich)
Major: Resort Management
Minors: Club Management; Special Event & Meeting Planning
Scholarship Amount: $500

To be considered for one of the scholarships, the student had to be enrolled in the hospitality, travel/tourism and/or food service program at their respective college, university or institution; must be in at least this/her second year of the program; must have an accumulative GPS of 3.00 or higher; must have a minimum of 500 hours of practical on-the-job experience (including paid or unpaid internships) in his/her field of study; and must be endorsed by the department.

Re-established in the summer of 2005, KCLA is a non-profit, membership based organization made up of lodging properties and other hospitality businesses which service and compliment this industry. The organization meets monthly at hotels and destination properties throughout Kent County and also hosts educational training seminars, social activities and fundraisers for its hospitality scholarship fund.

KCLA serves to promote practical and fair cooperation with local, state and the United States governmental agencies on behalf of the Association members. It also works to advance and promote the fair exchange of information necessary in the public interest, or for the welfare of the lodging business as well as practical public relations in the interest of the lodging business; and encourages the spirit of friendly cooperation and the exchange of business among the members of the Association thus enabling the lodging businesses in the Kent County Area to better serve the public.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jolly Pumpkin Releases Biere de Mars Grand Reserve April 25

On Monday, April 25, Jolly Pumpkin will release its long-anticipated Biere de Mars Grand Reserve – available in both Ann Arbor and Traverse City starting at 4pm.

The story behind the Sour Flanders ales Biere de Mars and Biere de Mars Grand Reserve is that both are brewed with identical recipes, using two different yeasts. Each is then aged – or mellowed – in different oak barrels for about four months before being reblended back together for bottling. The Grand Reserve, however, is aged for over a year in the barrels before being reblended and bottled – making it even more sour.

Only 20 cases of 330ml bottles of the Grand Reserve will be available, with a limit of two (2) bottles per person which will sell for $10 per bottle. An even more limited number of 750ml bottles will be available, in Ann Arbor only, for $20 per bottle.

The Jolly Pumpkin is part of Northern United Brewing Co., which also encompasses the Grizzly Peak and North Peak Beer Co. craft beer brands, as well as the soon-to-be-released Civilized line of spirits. NUBC’s philosophy focuses on a dedication to conservation, inspiration and locally sustainable practices. All of the beers and spirits under these brands are produced at either the new 5600-square-foot facility on Old Mission Peninsula adjacent to Mission Table restaurant (former Bowers Harbor Inn) or at the original Jolly Pumpkin brewing facility in Dexter.

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

Jolly Pumpkin Brewing Company

Jolly Pumpkin Releases Bambic in Celebration of Winking Lizard’s 25th Anniversary

Monday, April 25 is a busy day for Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, with the release of Bambic – brewed as a 25th Anniversary celebration ale for Winking Lizard Tavern.

Bambic is a blend of Bam Biere – a farmhouse style ale and Lambiscus – our Lambic beer, fermented with 100% wild Dexter yeast. The 330ml bottles of Bambic will sell for $8 at Jolly Pumpkin in Ann Arbor and Traverse City, as well as at any of the 14 neighborhood Winking Lizard Taverns located throughout Ohio.

The Jolly Pumpkin is part of Northern United Brewing Co., which also encompasses the Grizzly Peak and North Peak Beer Co. craft beer brands, as well as the soon-to-be-released Civilized line of spirits. NUBC’s philosophy focuses on a dedication to conservation, inspiration and locally sustainable practices. All of the beers and spirits under these brands are produced at either the new 5600-square-foot facility on Old Mission Peninsula adjacent to Mission Table restaurant (former Bowers Harbor Inn) or at the original Jolly Pumpkin brewing facility in Dexter.

Find NUBC products at stores, restaurants, and bars all throughout Michigan, including: North Peak Brewing Company, Mission Table & Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, all in Traverse City; Jolly Pumpkin & Grizzly Peak, in Ann Arbor.
Jolly Pumpkin Brewing Companywww.JollyPumpkin.com

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Uncle John's Fruit House Winery Snags a Dozen Medals at 2011 Great Lakes Cider & Perry Competition

Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery, located on US27 North in St. Johns, returned home from the Great Lakes Cider & Perry Festival in Grand Rapids earlier this month with a dozen new pieces of hardware. According to owner and cider maker Mike Beck, the 8-year-old winery was awarded five gold medals, five silver medals and two bronze medals, including:

Cyser (4 entries)
Gold - Cyser
A fresh blend of Apple Wine & Michigan honey, with subtle hints of melon, honey and spices.

Common Cider (35 entries)
Silver – Seasonal Baldwin
A Varietal Cider made from an apple that was our Nation’s #1 planted variety its 100 yrs of existence.

Silver – Original Hard Cider
Full-flavored, crisp and refreshing with just the right amount of carbonation.

Bronze – Bourbon Barrel Cider
Dry Cider aged in Bourbon Barrels to give it a hearty Bourbon character…

Perry (6 entries)
Gold – Perry
Made from juicy Michigan Bartlett pears; semi-dry and sparkling with carbonation.

Fruit Cider (16 entries)
Gold – Apple Cranberry
Full-flavored, crisp and refreshing, barrel aged for approximately 4 months.

Bronze – Apple Cherry Cider
A carbonated blush made with fresh apple hard cider, mixed with Michigan Cherry Juice.

Apple Wine (10 entries)
Silver – Apple Wine
A Semi-Dry wine from a blend of apple varities. Crisp & Refreshing and great for mulling.

Specialty Cider (19 entries)
Silver – Fireball Cider
A cider blended with Atomic Fireballs that is fun to drink and takes you on a stroll down memory lane.

Intensified Cider
Gold – Apple Dessert Wine
Starting with fruit wine then fortified with brandy from the same fruit.

Distilled Eau de vie (5 entries)
Gold - Vodka
This is not apple “flavored” vodka, rather vodka distilled from apples. It is ultra smooth and clean with gentle fruit and spice notes. Made with Uncle John’s apples, coming in at 86 proof.

Distilled – Brandy (Oak Aged) (6 entries)
Bronze – Apple Brandy
A 90 proof brandy distilled from apple cider boasting subtle fruit bouquet with flavors of spice and leather, followed by a toasty oak finish. A nice earthy note finishes the palette from aging in French and American Oak Barrels.

The Great Lakes Cider & Perry Competition has grown to become the second largest cider and perry competition in the English-speaking world, behind the Royal Bath & West Show in Somerset, England.
This year, the competition showed notable growth with the number of commercial entries more than doubling. There were 19 categories of entry in three divisions – two commercial and one non-commercial. Entries came from 17 US states and three Canadian provinces, as well as producers in the English counties of Herefordshire, Warwickshire, Dorset and Suffolk. The 6th annual competition is sponsored by the Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association.

The Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 2008 with a mission of promoting cider and perry and of providing related educational opportunities for producers and consumers. Its core membership is comprised of commercial and noncommercial cidermakers in the states and province bordering on the Great Lakes. Additional information about the Association may be found at www.greatlakescider.com.

Centrally located in the state, Uncle John's Fruit House Winery mixes traditional agri-tourism with a Winery and Tasting Room. Uncle John's specializes in Fruit Wines, Hard Ciders and Perrys. Aside from the fruit wines, we also feature traditional grape varieties, as well as Apple Brandy and Vodka made from Apples. The winery and tasting room is housed in an 85-year-old restored fruit packing house and is located beside Uncle John’s Cider Mill, Pie Barn and Gift Shop. Uncle John’s is located at 8614 N. US 127, seven miles north of St. Johns and four miles south of US-127 and M-57 intersection.

For more information, visit Fruit House Winery online at www.fruithousewinery.com

Robinette Cellars Scores Four Medals at 6th Annual Great Lakes Cider & Perry Competition

Robinette Cellars in Grand Rapids proudly brought home four medals from the 6th Annual Great Lakes Cider & Perry Competition, sponsored by the Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association (www.greatlakescider.com). The competition was held April 2 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

This year, significant growth was reported in the number of participants, drawing 265 entries in 19 categories from throughout North America from Washington to Nova Scotia and from Quebec to Texas, as well as entries from overseas (Last year, the total number of entries was 91, in 17 categories).

This competition includes categories for both commercial producers (those who may lawfully sell their products) and non-commercial producers (home hobbyists and commercial establishments such as cider mills that press fresh juice but are not licensed to sell fermented products). With 19 categories of entry, the competition is unique in its high level of inclusiveness with fermented products of all kinds are welcome: ciders, perries, meads, beers, and commercial distillates, provided that they are made with apples or pears.

This year, Robinette Cellars received medals for:

Common Cider
Bronze – Barzilla’s Brew Hard Sider
Lightly carbonated, dry, made with apple juice.

Fruit Cider
Bronze – Apple Cherry Hard Cider
Lightly carbonated, semi-dry, made with apple juice and Michigan cherry juice.

Intensified Cider
Silver - Dessert Apple Wine
Apple wine fortified with apple brandy.

Open Mead
Bronze – Cyser
Honey and apple juice fermented with dates & raisins.

“This is a great honor for us to bring home so many medals from this competition once again,” says Bill Robinette – hard cider maker and wine maker at Robinette’s. “With the increase in the number of entries from around the world, it’s great that we’re being recognized for our products in a variety of categories. Michigan had a proud showing at the competition, and we’re excited to be part of this thriving agri-tourism industry.”

Robinette Cellars began producing its line of hard cider, mead, cyser and wine in January, 2006, and currently has a product list of 16, all made with Michigan fruit. Visitors to Robinette Cellars pay $3 per person or $5 per couple for a souvenir wine glass and samples of six of their local wines. The glass can be brought back on future visits for free tastings.

Founded in 1911, Robinette’s is a 5th generation, 125-acre year-round agricultural destination in northern Kent County – celebrating its Centennial in 2011. In addition to the orchard and winery, Robinette’s offers a cider mill, farm market, corn maze, horse-drawn wagon rides, mountain biking trail, bakery and full lunch menu. The 1800s Gift Barn features made in Michigan products, such as food items and fine art, as well as holiday decorations and custom-packaged gift boxes.

Robinette’s holds memberships in the Michigan Apple Committee, Michigan Cider Makers Guild, Michigan State Horticultural Society, Kent Harvest Trails, Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association, Local First and West Michigan Tourist Association.

For hours, activities and more information, visit www.robinettes.com

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vic Foerster - Author of Naked in the Stream: Isle Royale Stories to Speak & Sign Books April 28 at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids

A wilderness island in Lake Superior calls Vic Foerster to cross the world’s largest lake, land on the island’s rocky shore, hike its bony spine, fish its shoal embedded coves, camp in harm’s way, and fall in love with it all—bugs included. Naked in the Stream, Isle Royale Stories is Vic Foerster’s intimate account of what it means to find, revere, and experience wilderness. Isle Royale is a remote island in Lake Superior, accessible only by boat or seaplane.

On Thursday, April 28 at 7pm, Schuler Books at 3165 Alpine Avenue in Grand Rapids welcomes Vic Foerster, author of Northern Michigan’s bestselling book, Naked in the Stream, Isle Royale Stories.

Foerster’s humor and passion shine through these stories. He describes what it feels like when dormant muscles spring to life while lugging a canoe over steep ridges, the panic caused by paddling against a stiff head-wind, straining to reach shore, how to fish for dinner on Lake Superior from a canoe, and how to hold your breath as you pass by an eagle perched 50 feet away. Observe the moose, the wolves, and the fascinating people Vic encounters. Draw close to the Great Lakes wilderness that outdoor enthusiasts place in their bucket list and say, “One day ... ”

Former artist-in-resident Joyce Koskenmaki’s artwork graces the writing. This is a book that Jerry Dennis, author of The Living Great Lakes, describes as worthy of the Sigurd Olson Outstanding Writing Award and Michigan notable book author, Tom Springer, says combines a rare originality with humor and an abiding grace.

Foerster is a consulting arborist who has served West Michigan for the past 35 years. He now turns his observational skills toward what many call the “Jewel of the National Park System.”

Naked in the Stream: Isle Royale Stories
By Vic Foerster
Arbutus Press – Traverse City
ISBN 978-1-933926-22-3
Paperback 6X9, 300 pages


Monday, April 4, 2011

Grand Rapids Based Ice Brigade Celebrates Successful First Season on Food Network

On Thursday, March 3 – West Michigan, the United States and even the world took note as ice carvers Randy Finch, Derek Maxfield and their team from Ice Sculptures, LTD., in Grand Rapids, launched their series Ice Brigade on the Food Network.

Ice Brigade follows Michigan-based chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by developing original designs that defy the imagination. To these frozen outlaws, the standard wedding swans are simply huge ice cubes. The real thrill of their bone-chilling craft is to make life-sized and interactive creations like pool tables, bowling lanes, grand pianos, carousels and putt-putt courses.

Armed with chain saws, chisels and sledge hammers, each episode features Randy and crew sculpting rock-solid ice blocks into out-of-this world art and delivering them to awestruck clients. No matter the job or locale, the mission remains the same: get the job done, before it all melts away. The show airs at 10pm on Thursday nights (with repeat airings a couple times per week).

“The whole cast is really excited to be celebrating the season one finale right here in Grand Rapids,” says Ice Guru Randy Finch. “We look forward to the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the community for their overwhelming support!”

More than 100 fans met at GP Sports inside the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel that first week to cheer on the cast during the first episode. Each week, whether at GP’s or Peppino’s Downtown GR, fans have continued to gather together to watch the show which has carved a special place in the hearts of many.

Ice Brigade has garnered media attention on both the local and national level, including an impressive appearance on March 18 on The Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda (now archived on MSNBC.com), as well as a segment on CBS News. Articles about the show have also appeared in New York Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.

In all, seven episodes comprise Season #1 of Ice Brigade. Each episode features at least two major ice sculptures for clients in Grand Rapids and throughout Michigan. The final show will air on Thursday, April 14 and a special “Spring Bling” finale party is planned for the International Ballroom at the JW Marriott.

The Spring Bling featuring the entire cast of The Ice Brigade
Thursday, April 14 | 8pm – 1am
International Ballroom - JW Marriott, Downtown Grand Rapids
Music: Soundscape Designer - Todd Ernst
Dress: Blingy and Springy!
Ages 21 and up | No Cover | Cash Bar

Special low-bling drink pricing will be available, along with unique "Ice Brigade" drinks prepared just for this event! Surprises all night long, including props from the show, LIVE ice sculpting and much, much more.