Dozens of West Michigan Arts & Foodie Destinations Spotlighted in this Self-Guided Agri-Cultural Driving Tour, October 20-21
“With the addition of the Allegan County Tourist Council as a primary planning partner this year, along with the Barry County Tourism, Council, tour stops now extend from M66 west, all the way over to the Lake Michigan shoreline,” says Ginger Hentz, Barry County Tourism Co-Chair and Barry County MSU Extension Educator.
Arts & Eats is a free self-guided driving tour of artist studios, eateries featuring locally-grown food, and farms that feature the best in Michigan specialty farm products. Travelers are encouraged to explore the back roads to visit participating farms, art studios and central venues, which are open both days from 10am to 5pm. Restaurants are open during normal business hours; many will kick-off the tour the night before (October 19) serving especially prepared menu selections prepared with locally grown and purchased foods.
Art enthusiasts can visit more than two dozen different galleries, studios and central venues to view the works of local painters, potters, photographers, sculptors and other artisans. Artists welcome guests to their studios, while galleries feature some of the most talented local art for the tour. Those who do not have a public studio are displaying works at five different central venues spread out throughout the tour area.
New this year are two “Public Art” sites – one in Allegan at Baker Allegan Studios and the other at the old County Courthouse in downtown Hastings. This program, under the direction of Toby TenEyck, artist and professor with Michigan State University department of Sociology, will engage all travelers passing through the area to make their artistic mark on a common canvas.
Participants can also experience local foods both at the farms where the food is grown and area restaurants. Nine area farms that grow the food that we eat or that grow the fiber we wear are participating this year. This tour is a unique opportunity for people to visit farms that may not normally be open to the public.
Savor amazing seasonal fare at some 14 participating restaurants, where chefs use their creative culinary talents to pull together fabulous menu items – featuring local products – for tour-goers.
According to organizers, the tour has multiple purposes including raising awareness and appreciation of the region’s rural areas, and educating people about the economic, environmental, and health benefits of buying and consuming locally grown foods. Another purpose of the tour is to support Michigan artists as entrepreneurs and also to connect farmers with local restaurants which can provide locally grown foods.
“The idea driving Arts & Eats is to invite tourists to explore rural artists, agricultural venues and restaurants, all the while soaking in our beautiful fall scenic landscape,” Hentz says. “It also supports the area’s rich agricultural and arts communities, which are economic drivers to our local economy.”
Arts and Eats was introduced last fall by the Barry County Tourism Council and this year welcomes the Allegan County Tourist Council, along with other partner organizations, including the Barry County Chamber of Commerce, Hastings Public Library, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, Promote Michigan, Thornapple Arts Council, and area artists, studios, and eateries. The premier sponsor is Hastings Mutual Insurance.
A listing of participants, as well as a PDF of the official tour map are online here. The tour guide/map are available at all the sites the days of the tour, as well as at participating venues throughout the month of October.