Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring Arrives Along Lake Michigan Shoreline

In West Michigan, the truest sign of spring is the blossoming of tulips in Holland – just in time for the annual Tulip Time Festival, May 7-14. In addition to the 4.4 million tulips, the area is home to acres of fragrant apple, cherry and peach orchards. Vineyards stretch out along the rolling hillsides and colorful wildflowers dot sugar-sand beaches along the Lake Michigan coastline. You can even find the flavors of spring – and summer – in the form of locally crafted wine and beer. You are invited to celebrate the arrival of spring and all its natural wonders at these seven shoreline attractions:

Crane’s Pie Pantry
Blossoms are blooming throughout the orchards at Crane’s Pie Pantry (6054 124th Avenue (M89), Fennville). Stop out this month and pick up a map which identifies the trees, and walk the orchards which are full of fragrance this time of year. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the beauty of your visit (then consider entering the photos in the “Picture Yourself in Allegan County Photo Contest”). The walking tour is free but you must check in first at the Pie Pantry. Sorry, no pets. www.cranespiepantry.com |269-561-2297

Fenn Valley
Join Chef Christine Ferris for a Girls Afternoon out, May 14, as she demonstrates “Cutting the Cheese.” Everything you need to know about selecting, storing and cooking with cheese will be covered. Following the demonstration, participants will enjoy a brunch paired with assorted wines – including the new 2010 releases. Cost is $30 per person. Reservations are required. Winemaker cellar tours are offered at 3pm every Saturday (excluding 6/25) – providing a chance for you to taste from the barrels and tanks as you learn what makes Fenn Valley wines unique. Cost is $8 per person and includes a logo wine glass and $5 coupon. Reservations encouraged. Also, save the date for the Fenn Valley Wine Fest, June 25 (1-5pm), with great wines, tasty ethnic foods, a barrel aging demonstration and music by Natches Trace. Cost is $8 for adults. No reservations required. www.fennvalley.com | 269-561-2396

Dutch Village
Spring rings back a new bunch of animals at Nelis’ Dutch Village. The petting area has featured goats, rabbits, baby chicks and a llama named “Mr. T.” for the past few years, but 2011 brings mini animals to Dutch Village! “Taking a Goat for a Walk” has been one o the most popular attractions for the past two years, and should be again this year. This year’s new animal assortment includes mini pigs (under 12 inches tall), a mini cow, a mini mama horse and her baby and eight mini goats. All the miniature animals are brought in from a special hobby farm in Illinois called the Ahrens Hobby Farm. www.dutchvillage.com | 616-396-1475

New Holland Brewing
Tis the Saison! Or “season” as it translates, tne Holland Brewing Co.’s spring/summer brew, Golden Cap Saison, is currently available at the pub and on retailer shelves throughout the state. A modern interpretation of a traditional farmhouse ale, Golden cap is a soft, pale beer that embodies the flavors and aromas of summer fields. This brew was just awarded a Silver medal at the World Expo of Beer competition in Frankenmuth. In time for Cinco de may, it’s the el Mole Ocho: Mole’ inspired Ale – the spiciest addition to New Holland’s High Gravity family. This beer encompasses the brewer’s exploration into the flavors of mole – the legendary sauce of Central Mexico. El Mole Ocho features malty aroma and a rich, cocoa-laden body, laced with an invigorating tinge of dried chilies and coffee. It’s available in 22-ounce bottles or on tap at the pub. Of course, Tulip Time Festival wouldn’t be complete without New Holland’s Red Tulip Ale and Black Tulip Ale. Red Tulip Ale is brewed in homage to the festival, evoking spring’s renewing spirit. It’s available exclusively at the pub this year. While at the pub, be sure to ask your server or bartender about the selection of Library Beers, including vintage 2005 and 2006 Black Tulip. www.newhollandbrew.com | 616-335-6422

Star of Saugatuck Boat Cruises
Explore the Kalamazoo River aboard an authentic sternwheel paddleboat, and view the arrival of spring along the riverbank. Bring your binoculars and camera to observe the birds, water fowl and other animals in their natural environment. The shoreline is peppered with color as the spring wildflowers make their appearance for the season. Trips will be offered at 1pm and 3pm on May 18 and 19. Then, coming up Thursday, May 26 take part in the “Marga-Relay-Ville” Relay for Life fundraiser from 7-9pm. Cost is $30 per person or 2 for $50. The evening will include games, snacks and a cash bar. Then, on Friday, June 24, make reservations for the extended cruise from 7-10pm with live music, a picnic lunch and cash bar. Seating is limited and reservations are required. www.saugatuckboatcruises.com | 269-857-4261

Saugatuck Dune Rides
Explore the Lake Michigan shore sand dunes like never before, with Saugatuck Dune Rides – in celebration of their 30th anniversary! Feel the wind in your hair as you travel out near the site of the former town of Singapore – dubbed Michigan’s Pompeii, as it is buried under the sands. Along the foredunes (the first ridge behind the beach) you’ll see beautiful clusters of yellow harry puccoon, the common milkweed, beach pea, sand cress, smooth rose, bearberry, wild grape, sand cherry and Pitcher’s Thistle (a Federally-threatened wildflower) growing proudly. Migratory birds, such as the Prairie Warbler (Michigan endangered), Eastern Kingbird, Brown Thrasher, Field Sparrow and the Northern Harrier (a migratory raptor listed on the Michigan special concern list), are often seen. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the beauty of the dunes and all its natural residents! www.saugatuckduneride.com | 269-857-2253

Windmill Island
The focal point of this beautiful oasis on the edge of downtown is the 249 year old working Dutch windmill "De Zwaan" (meaning graceful bird). The windmill, which reaches 125 feet from the ground to the top of the blades, towers over 36 acres of manicured gardens, dikes, canals and picnic areas. Spring has exploded on Windmill Island, as more than 150,000 tulips have come into bloom. In the summer, annual plants and flowers decorate the grounds in a sea of color. A visit this premier destination includes old-time Klompen dance performed by girls dressed in folk costumes and wooden shoes; an antique Dutch carousel, featuring hand-carved and painted wooden horses; and the miniature Netherlands Village made by the early settlers. While you’re here, listen to the antique Amsterdam street organ and learn how it works, sample world-famous fudge made with real Dutch cocoa and stop by the souvenir shop for some mementos of your visit, including stone-ground flour from the windmill. www.cityofholland.com/windmillislandgardens | 616-355-1030

Holland & Saugatuck Lakeshore Attractions Group

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Discover Spring Camping in Michigan

Although camping is a year-round activity in Michigan, spring signals the onset of the warm-weather camping season in Michigan. By early May, a large number of the privately owned campgrounds in Michigan are welcoming guests looking to shake off the winter blues and enjoy the great outdoors. The Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds – Michigan offers up 10 great reasons to head out to your favorite Michigan campground this spring:

1. Wildflowers. April showers bring May flowers, like the trillium that blanket the forest floor. Spring also brings the blossoms on the apple and cherry trees, making this one of the most fragrant times of the year to get out and travel the Great Lakes State.

2. Woodland Edibles. Morel mushrooms, wild ramps, leeks and fiddleheads are all delicacies that can be found by foraging through the woodlands of Michigan. After a successful “hunt” you can savor these mouth-watering finds, paired with a fine Michigan beer or wine.

3. Fishing. Whether you enjoy fly fishing on the rivers and streams, heading out on a charter on the big lake or casting a line for pan fish in an inland lake, you’re sure to catch something while spring fishing in Michigan. From walleye, trout, steelhead and salmon to perch, bass and bluegills, this is a fisherman’s paradise.

4. Wine Tasting. While the more than 80 wineries throughout the state of Michigan are open year round, spring is the ideal time to visit as this is when the new releases are available for tasting. Be sure to purchase a bottle or two, to pair with those woodland edibles and fresh catches! For more in Michigan wines: www.MichiganWines.com

5. Bird Watching. Nature centers, sanctuaries and wildlife viewing areas are thriving with opportunities for spring bird watching. For more about birding, visit the Michigan Audubon Society website: www.michiganaudubon.org

6. Paddling. With thousands of miles of rivers and streams, not to mention the inland and Great Lakes, spring is the perfect time to get out in your canoe or kayak and head out on the water for some peace and quiet. For more information, check out the website for the Michigan Association of Paddlesport Providers: www.michigancanoe.com

7. Peddling. Michigan is home to some of the most scenic biking trails, ranging in distance and level of difficulty. Whether you’re taking a short family trip along a paved trail or are heading out for an off-road mountain bike adventure, you’ll find plenty of opportunities around the state – including special events geared toward cyclists. For more information on biking trails and events around the state, check out the website for the League of Michigan Bicyclists at www.lmb.org

8. Hiking. From nature centers to city, county and state parks, you’ll find countless trails waiting to be explored. In Michigan, you can hike more than 200 miles on the Shore-to-Shore Trail that connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Or, take a day hike on any breathtaking section of the North Country National Scenic Trail which operates is national offices from Lowell, Michigan. www.northcountrytrail.org

9. Golfing. Michigan is home to more than 800 golf courses and during the spring season, the rates are often lower, there are fewer people (and bugs) and the temperatures are pleasant. For a detailed list of courses throughout the state, visit the Golf Association of Michigan online at www.gam.org

10. Driving. Michigan Highways offer a state-wide listing of Heritage Routes – in three specific categories: Scenic, Recreational and Historic routes online at www.MichiganHighways.org.

No matter which spring activity accompanies your camping trip, be sure to travel with camera in hand to capture the awakening of all around you. To learn more about how to enjoy Michigan’s “Springtime Splendor” and cure your cabin fever, visit www.SpringtimeSplendor.com.

The Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds – Michigan represents nearly 200 member campgrounds with more than 30,000 sites available throughout the state. The new Michigan Campground Directory, published by ARVC-Michigan, is now available at various locations statewide, including all state Welcome Centers. 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.

For an online directory of ARVC member campgrounds, log onto www.michcampgrounds.com.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The River Eco Tours Offers Hiking, Biking & Fishing Excursions Through Glen Arbor, Sleeping Bear Dunes and Leelanau Peninsula

The village of Glen Arbor in Northern Michigan’s Leelanau County is 36 square miles of land and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore owns 30 of those miles. Ironically, 90% of the visitors to the National Park never venture off more than 50 feet from a sidewalk or pavement. The experienced guides with River Eco Tour Company are dedicated to getting people of all ages out into the park – by boat, bike or on foot – to experience the abundant natural surroundings the area is known for.


Tucker Lake fishing trips. All you need to do is show up. We provide the boats, the fishing rods and tackle, the ice and soft drinks, the insect repellent and an experienced guide to help you find, catch and release the fish.

First on the River trips. Leaving daily from the dam, this 7 mile trip at 7 a.m. promises peace and quiet and most likely several significant wildlife sightings. Bald Eagles, Otters, Herons, several species of ducks and geese, deer, possibly a bear or even the elusive cougar may be witnessed on any given morning. Our guide will also fill you in on the local flora and fauna, ecological facts, and even a narrative history of Glen Arbor for the last couple hundred years. Dress Warm.

Biking Tours into the Park and around the Lakes. Our guides have several different trips for the beginner, the advanced and everyone in between. Leelanau County is biker friendly and our guides are experienced with getting you to the most beautiful spots safely. From one to six hour trips available. For up to date schedules, just call us or stop in at the shop.

Hiking Tours – Sleeping Bear Point Trail with its spectacular views of the dunes, Manitou Islands, Sleeping Bear Bay, Alligator Hill and Glen Lake, the Sleeping Bear Point Trail hike is the favorite of many visitors to the National Lakeshore. If you only have time for one memorable hike to give you the full essence of the magnificence of Sleeping Bear, this is the one. The looping trail, just under three miles long and rising over 200 feet above the lakeshore, takes 1 to 3 hours to complete depending on the pace, stops, dip/wading in the lake, etc.

The trail covers a diverse mix of dune complex ecology, including: Lake Michigan’s shoreline, beach, foredunes, dune blow-outs, Ghost Forest, and backdunes/stabilized forest. The geography, geology, flora, fauna and history of Sleeping Bear Point will be discussed during the hike. You will see the rare threatened Pitcher’s thistle plant; possibly, the endangered piping plover, which nests along the lakeshore; and if you’re lucky, a bald eagle soaring over head. Although more than half of the hike is in loose sand, and is strenuous at times, our route goes through the forest first, on a hard dirt-packed path, which is the easiest route to get to the highest point of the hike. Anyone in good health will find this guided tour a fun, educational and memorable experience—while getting some great exercise in the process.

This tour is not recommended for small children unless they’re really into hiking, or unless you want to carry them part of the way.


Mike Sutherland has extensive experience on the waters and in the woods of Leelanau County. He has traveled over 50 Countries and is thrilled to offer his guide services right here in his home town of Glen Arbor. Mike has logged many days on the Crystal River and numerous inland lakes like Tucker, Fisher, The Glens, Narada, Shell, Bass, and School. He has plenty of big water experience and received his 50 ton Captains License in the mid nineties. He has chartered in the Bahamas, (6 winters on Guana Cay and 7 on Spanish Wells) Florida, (Eco Tour Guide at the Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada) Nantucket, (including a transatlantic on a 48 foot yawl) and of course many trips on Lake Michigan fishing salmon and Lake Trout, diving the numerous shipwrecks in the Manitou Passage and Sleeping Bear Bay and has run many island trips to the Manitous. He now prefers the calmer water systems “inside the shoreline”, and is excited to offer his guide services and fishing experience on Leelanau County’s inland lakes and the Crystal River. Mike also specializes in skin diving, snorkeling on our inland lakes, even the river, and on calmer days would love to show you a couple of wrecks including the “Rising Sun” just off Pyramid Point. Nothing more than a mask and snorkel is required for this incredible experience.

Mike is excited to offer these trips to you and your family:

• Evening fishing trips on any of our inland lakes, but preferably Tucker right here in Glen Arbor.
• Morning or evening floats down the Crystal River.
• Snorkeling from a kayak or tube on many of our inland lakes or the Crystal River.
• Snorkeling from a kayak or tube on Sleeping Bear Bay. The wrecks of the Phelps and Rising Sun are in less than 10 feet of water. Also fun to snorkel through the piers at Glen Haven or the old Port Oneida Dock.

John Tris has been hiking the dunes of Lake Michigan’s southern and eastern shores for over 40 years. He first got hooked on a visit to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore while a college student at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Ecology, Conservation and Field Geography classes increased his interest, understanding and appreciation of the natural environment. He received a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Secondary Education from UIC. Fate brought John and his family to Leelanau County on a vacation, and like most everyone else who vacations here, it was love at first sight. Over the past 20 years, he has become very knowledgeable of the hiking trails in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and of the geography, geology, flora, fauna and cultural history of the region. He recently developed a guided tour of the Sleeping Bear Point trail, a favorite of dune hikers. John has also hiked many of the public trails managed by the Leelanau and Grand Traverse conservancies, and is always happy to share his knowledge.

Georg Schluender began his career at 17 years old assisting as a water ski instructor in Northern Michigan. Now over 20 years later, he has guided and / or instructed more than 35 silent sport’s coast-to-coast, border-to-border. Migrating with the birds and telling the time through the tides, moons and seasons, his greatest passion is watching those that rarely experience Mother Nature’s wonders stand awestruck in her presence. Georg understands nature, and loves to show people how to do the same. His focus on eco-tourism began in the San Juan’s and British Columbia Gulf Islands of the Pacific Northwest in 1991.

His tour guide experience for Sea Quest Expeditions and Zoetic (Endowed with Life) brought him face to face with hundreds of Orca in thousands of feet of ice cold black water with no land in sight…..in single man kayaks. He has conquered many a mountain, river and lake with his mountain bike, kayak and snowboard in the back country of the North Cascades. After several years in the Barrier Islands of the Nation’s Southeast guiding birding and kayaking tour’s, he has made it back to cultivate his roots in Northern Michigan. Georg’s passion is examining the natural history of the North Woods and he is available for many silent sport guided trips on foot, bike or kayak. Georg is an expert in geo-caching and is equipped with various GPS instruments and maps to help get him and his guests to natural wonders rarely seen by man.

Georg’s marketing company, Michigan Outdoor Silent Sport Tour’s – “Get the MOSST outta life!” has been featured around the world and allows him to affiliate with other career lifestyle businesses that share in the same eco-tourism philosophies. From winter rafting, snow shoe, and cross country tours to developing corporate retreats, his guiding experience is only matched by his knowledge of Northern Lower and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Mark Ringlever’s mantra as of late is: “Get in the water and let the current do the rest”. Mark has been bitten by the flyfishing bug and is passionately consumed by a monosyllabic image of tight sexy loops and big fish.
Mark has wet his line in many foreign and remote places of the globe including various Caribbean Islands and the Bahamas out islands, The Southern Philippines Islands, Nova Scotia-Cape Breton Island, Newfoundland and Central America.

Mark has college degrees in environmental science, geography and business from Michigan Tech and Acquanis and took his first job with the U.S. Forestry Service. Other jobs with Outward Bound and the Bureau of Land Management have given him the inspiration to guide in “some of the best water in the world” here in Northern Michigan. Mark has logged thousands of miles paddling and fishing Quetico Provincial Park and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Wilderness. He built his own cottage near Empire and typically spends his winters out of country searching out the elusive fishing experience.

Mark is available for many fishing trips and is armed with a Hyde drift boat and extra rods and tackle. Stop into the shop and help us design a trip that works for you…..from bluegill fishing on Tucker Lake to trout fishing on the AuSable: The sky’s the limit.

Noah Creamer has been photographing the great outdoors for over 20 years. He is a graduate of Grand Valley State University and is a published professional photographer for various local and national publications. Noah is a 2008 Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) nominee in Environmental Journalism & Communication. Noah is extremely active in photography and environmental policy and was a speaker at the 2008 Grand Traverse BIONEERS conference. “Nature is the planets greatest evolving art. No two pictures are ever the same because our environment is in a constant state of change.” Take a photography tour with Noah and you will learn the techniques needed to capture these moments in their purist essence. Noah also loves to show kids the magic of photography.

An excursion with The River Eco Tours means everything you need is provided…all you have to do is show up. The company is fully licensed with the Department of Interior and fully insured.

In addition to its eco tours, The River operates a kayak/canoe/tube livery and miniature golf course along the sparkling shores of the Crystal River at 5959 S. Oak Street in Glen Arbor, just a block off famed M22.

To make reservations for any of these activities, call 231-883-7890. For more information, log onto http://theriverglenarbor.com.

The River also operates a kayak/tube livery and bike rental operation at Clinch Park (behind Con Foster Museum), along the Boardman River and Grand Traverse Bay, in downtown Traverse City. http://therivertraversecity.com/ | http://www.facebook.com/therivertc.

The Homestead Announces Salon Naming Contest

After years of robust growth in its award-winning wedding business, The Homestead will open its first full-service salon this season in The Village, serving men, women and children, but with a special focus on the needs of brides and bridal parties. In keeping with the resort’s tradition of involving its seasonal and local neighbors in new developments, The Homestead is inviting the community to help in naming the new facility.

The salon will offer cuts, color, and nail services, and will specialize in styling services for the many wedding parties and their guests that visit the resort each summer. In addition to refined and traditional wedding hairstyles like the French twist, The Homestead’s team is also working on an array of more casual, modern options to accommodate brides who prefer a rustic or bohemian look, including several styles that will feature an array of seasonal wildflowers from the top of Bay Mountain woven into the hair. Custom floral styles will also be available to complement the bride’s bouquet.

The Homestead is accepting entries for the salon naming contest from now through June 21, 2011, with semi-finalists being selected from each of three different entry periods of two weeks each. Entrants may submit as many ideas as they like by entering online at www.thehomesteadresort.com/name-the-salon-contest or in person at The Homestead.

The winners will be selected in three rounds of judging by a panel from The Homestead, with each round of judging followed by open voting by the public to select semi-finalists. Voting will close on June 28, 2011, and winners will be announced on July 3, 2011, at a reception hosted by The Homestead for all of the semi-finalists in the last round.

Seven different prize packages will be awarded to over one hundred winners, with an approximate retail value of over $15,069 in total prizes being awarded. The Grand Prize winner will receive a deluxe package for eight people, including lunch for the entire group at Cavanaugh’s Deli, dinner at Nonna’s, eight one-month memberships to New Leaf Health & Fitness Center, and a day of beauty at the new salon including three treatments for each guest.

For a complete description of prizes, entry requirements, and relevant dates, please refer to the official contest rules at www.thehomesteadresort.com/name-the-salon-contest/rules.

For more information on weddings and salon services at The Homestead, visit www.thehomesteadresort.com or call 231.334.5000.

Valentine Vodka Celebrates Grand Opening of Ferndale Distillery & Martini Bar

The long-anticipated Grand Opening of Valentine Vodka, 161 Vester Street in Ferndale, has arrived. On Friday, May 20, the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce will host a public ceremony and ribbon cutting at 4:30pm for the Valentine Vodka Martini Bar and Metro Detroit’s only micro-distillery. Afterward, guests are invited to imbibe on a selection of specialty cocktails and infusions throughout the evening.

Valentine Distilling Co., is located in a 5000-square-foot building which once housed the Wolverine Pool Table Company – just a stone’s throw from Woodward Avenue. In mid 2010, work began on the space resulting in a 1000-square-foot martini bar which looks into the 4000-square-foot distillery. Many of the building materials used in the renovations were reclaimed from abandoned or demolished buildings in Detroit.

As Detroit’s first micro distilled spirit since Prohibition, the award-winning Valentine Vodka is well on its way to setting the standard for ultra-premium hand-crafted vodka with its clean, crisp and uniquely flavorful taste. As one of the first distilleries in the world to use a triple-grain recipe, Valentine Vodka proudly utilizes a blend of Red Michigan wheat, malted barley and corn, which all come directly from Michigan farmers and suppliers.

Last year, Valentine Vodka was awarded a Gold medal ranking during the Beverage Tasting Institute (BTI) 2010 International Review of Spirits Competition – the largest and most prestigious annual spirits competition in the United States. The BTI gave Valentine Vodka a rating of 90 in the “Unflavored Vodka” category.

Rifino Valentine – the man behind Valentine Vodka – is a native of Leelanau County. A graduate of Cornell University, where he earned a BA in Economics, Rifino spent 11 years on Wall Street as an independent trader before founding his own successful trading firm. He returned to his home state in 2005 to fulfill his dream of creating Valentine Vodka.

Through his hand-crafted products, Rifino hopes to draw on the inspiration and history that the City of Detroit brings when it comes to distilled spirits, as he develops and grows Valentine Vodka. After three years of intense research and study, Valentine Vodka reached the market in March, 2009. From Christmas 2009 to the same time 2010, sales for Valentine Vodka has quadrupled in sales and can now be found in more than 900 outlets throughout Michigan and Illinois.

For a list of retail outlets carrying Valentine Vodka, as well as a menu of signature cocktails, log onto www.valentinevodka.com (www.facebook.com/valentinevodka).

Official Facebook Event, sponsored by The Metropolitan Detroit: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=221596637854678

Monday, May 2, 2011

Robinette Cellars Hosts Blessing of the Blossoms

To celebrate the arrival of spring and to offer a blessing for the upcoming season, Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery is hosting a “Blessing of the Blossoms” on Saturday, May 7 from 1-4:30pm.

The afternoon will include:

• Blessing from Pastor John Delger of Central Christian Church
• Special performance by Bluegrass band, Zellie's Opry House Band
• Julia Rothwell of US Apple
• Linda Jones of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council
• Free wagon rides
• Door prize drawings

Robinette’s will also offer its Centennial year special: a cup of cider and a donut for just 100 pennies. There will also be ice cream, homemade lunches, and wine tasting throughout the day.

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

OFFICIAL FACEBOOK EVENT: www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=212893278740013

Secchia Institute for Culinary Education Team Wins 2011 Chefs Challenge

The team from Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College was named winner of the 2011 Chefs Challenge during an “Iron Chef” inspired competition – edging out a team from The Art Institute of Michigan of Novi. The competition was held at Boyne Mountain Resort on Saturday, April 30, with Emmy Award winning chef and award-winning cookbook author Eric Villegas serving as master of ceremonies.

Earlier in the day, 11 teams from around Michigan cooked up mini plates which were evaluated by an esteemed group of culinary judges to determine the top two teams. Those teams provided the entertainment for diners that evening by cooking up detailed menu incorporating a variety of Michigan products which were then judged in front of the crowd to pick the top team.

“People’s Choice” awards were presented earlier in the day in several categories:

Beverage Division

Artisan Brew: Short's Brewery
Wine: (TIE) Bowers Harbor Winery & Good Harbor Vineyards
Spirits: Grand Traverse Distillery

Culinary Division

Southwest Michigan: St. Mary's Healthcare (Also named “Overall People’s Choice Winner”)
Northwest Michigan: Odawa Casino & Resort

The Chefs Challenge competition, inspired by the cult sensation Iron Chef America and the famous “Secret Ingredient,” is the culinary must-attend event of the year in Northern Michigan. The food competitions are designed to showcase Michigan food and drink products and their creative applications in a meal. It is an opportunity for Michigan establishments to showcase their talents and gain exposure for their establishment, while raising funds for Challenge Mountain.

The entire weekend benefits nearby Challenge Mountain – a non-profit 501(c)3 organization which provides adaptive outdoor recreational opportunities to people with special needs and their families, free of charge. For more than 25 years, Challenge Mountain has been dedicated to providing a venue for sports, outdoor recreation and leisure skills to those with physical disabilities or mental challenges, and to create happy, healthy and longer lives.

For more information on Chefs Challenge, including the list of teams, judges, seminars and more, log onto www.Chefs-challenge.com. For more on Challenge Mountain, visit www.cmski.org

PHOTO (back row, l-r, judges): Rob Haney, Chef Hermann Suhs, Ruth Mossok Johnson, Nathan Mileski and Barb Thonin. (front row, l-r, Secchia team): Chef Angus Campbell, Henri Ditmar, Eli Franco, Nick Asianian, Mike Stapert and Sasha Amed.