Thursday, September 3, 2015

Michigan voters remain steadfast in support of post-Labor Day school start

Once again, Michigan voters have overwhelmingly spoken in favor of starting the school year after the Labor Day holiday, according to a statewide survey of 1,075 likely 2016 voters conducted by Mitchell Research & Communications August 8-10, 2015.

The survey of Michigan voters found that nearly three-fourths support the law requiring all public school districts to start after Labor Day. Support remains strong at 64% even when Labor Day falls late in the calendar year as is the case this year. The poll also found that August was the most favorite month for Michigan family vacations, by a seven point margin over July.

"Michiganders overwhelmingly want to keep all of their summer vacation, especially in the month of August," said Dave Clouse, chairman of the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association (MLTA) and general manager of the Quality Inn Forward Conference Center in West Branch. "A post Labor Day School start means more time to make family memories that last a lifetime."

Support for the post-Labor Day school start crosses all age, race, gender, political, and geographic segments. "Michigan voters continue to embrace starting school after Labor Day," said Steve Yencich, President and CEO of the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association. "Summer is by far our industry's biggest season and July and August are the most predictably warm months. Voter opinion and plain old common sense tell us starting school after Labor Day is as good for Michigan families as it is for our state's economic future." said Yencich.

In addition to valuable family time, a later school start grows tourism, Michigan's third largest industry. In 2014, tourism generated $19.5 billion in economic activity, 214,000 jobs and over $1 billion in state tax revenue. The vast majority of these impacts are generated during the summer, especially in July and August.

CLICK HERE for actual survey results and cross tabs.

Formed in 1905, MLTA represents markets and educates lodging property and tourism business owners around the state.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Kent Harvest Trails Offers Fresh Local Foods & Family Farm Fun in Pure Michigan

Nearly 20 farms in the Greater Grand Rapids area are participating in the 2015 Kent Harvest Trails, providing families the opportunity to enjoy loads of country fun. Activities and tours begin mid-September and run through the end of October (although farms may actually open sooner and extend their season into early November, weather permitting).

Families can take tractor- or horse-drawn wagon rides through the orchards or to the pumpkin patch, visit with animals in the petting zoo, wander the corn maze and make a scarecrow to take home. Enjoy a fresh baked donut and watch as apples are pressed into sweet cider. Visit the farm markets for local produce or head out to pick your own fruit. Then, shop for baked goods, fall plants, home decorations and seasonal gifts. Admission for many farms is free, although there may be charges for certain activities.

Participating farms this year include At the Barn, Blok Orchards, Bos Greenhouse and Farm, Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm, Frozen Creek Floral & Farm, Fruit Ridge Hayrides, H & W Farms, Heidi’s Farm Stand, Honey Creek Farm, Klackle Orchards, Koetsier’s Greenhouse, Orchard Hill Farm, Paulson’s Pumpkin Patch, Post Family Farm, Red Barn Market, Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery, Schwallier’s Country Basket, Sietsema Orchards & Cider Mill and Steffens Orchards & Market.

An updated map of participating farms, including directions and dates/hours of operation, is available online at Printed brochures will also be available for free at area Family Fare Supermarket or D&W Fresh Market locations beginning in early September.
Kent Harvest Trails YouTube Video

Please support these proud sponsors of Kent Harvest Trails:

Red Barn Market
Valorous Circle
Heffron Farms
HSB Bookstore
Kent County Farm Bureau
D&W Fresh Market
Family Fare
WOOD Radio

Savor the Autumn Season with these Limited Edition Fall Flavors from Hudsonville Ice Cream

As colors begin to show on the trees around the Great Lakes Region, thoughts turn to the harvest of the season—of cider, donuts and apples. To celebrate these comforting flavors, Holland-based Hudsonville Ice Cream has released two fruit-inspired flavors centered around Michigan’s largest and most valuable fruit crop. Both Cider Mill Donut and Pure Michigan Salted Caramel Apple feature pieces of locally-sourced apples.

“Cider Mill Donut starts off with apple cider flavored ice cream, with a spiced-apple swirl throughout and real donut pieces,” says Ray Sierengowski, director of product development for Hudsonville Ice Cream. “All the flavors of your local cider mill are delivered to you in one delicious scoop. You’ll FALL for this tried-and-true combination.”

Ever since it was introduced as the 2012 winner of the “Pure Michigan” online flavor contest, Pure Michigan Salted Caramel Apple has been a mouth-watering fall favorite. With its combination of fresh Michigan apples folded into a special caramel-infused ice cream, it tastes just like caramel apples on a stick.

According to the Michigan Apple Committee, Michigan is the third-largest apple producing state in the country (behind California and New York). In 2014, Michigan harvested about 24 million bushels of apples from 9.2 million apple trees in commercial production, covering 36,500 acres on 850 family farms. Michigan’s apple industry is valued at about $250 million, annually (contributing significantly to state’s overall $102 billion agricultural industry).

Cider Mill Donut can be found in retail stores now; Pure Michigan Salted Caramel Apple will hit freezers in October.

Other fall flavors to be released this season include:

Fried Ice Cream — The weather may be turning cooler, but this flavor will warm your heart. Re-creating the fried ice cream experience from your favorite restaurants, this seasonal flavor takes cinnamon ice cream and mixes in pieces of cinnamon tostada crunch, with a honey caramel swirl. This flavor is in stores now!

Pumpkin Pie — Michigan ranks #2 in the country for the number of pumpkins harvested each year, and this rich and creamy flavor pays tribute to its place in the state’s overall agricultural industry. Served alone or as the a la mode to your favorite pie, this flavor returns to the freezer case just in time for holiday celebrations. With its traditional pumpkin pie flavors and now with actual pieces of pie crust, it makes a wonderful compliment to your holiday dessert table. Look for this flavor in early October.

Look for these “Limited Edition” flavors—distinguished by the red packaging—in grocery stores throughout Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois from through early November (while supplies last).

Started in 1895 as a farmers’ cooperative, the Holland-based Hudsonville Creamery & Ice Cream is the largest manufacturer of branded ice cream in Michigan. For more than 80 years, this Midwest company has been producing its creamy, delicious ice cream – using many of its original flavors, while at the same time creating refreshing new recipes inspired by the Great Lakes.