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5 1/2 Reasons it’s Great to Live in a Foodie Town

We’ve landed on countless lists citing Traverse City, Michigan as a mecca for the gastronomically enthusiastic traveler. But what makes our little lakeside town such a delight for the culinary tourist? I’ve narrowed it down to 5 1/2 reasons why I love our foodie town. Restaurants

1. Unique Restaurants 

From upscale dining like The Towne Plaza to the food truck lot at The Little Fleet —and everything in between— there are chef-owned restaurants across our city with creative menus to please any palette. The hardest part is making dining decisions when delicious options lie in every direction.

2.  Farm Market Fresh 

Fall is by far my favorite season to visit the farmers market. Apples and pumpkins and flowers, oh my! The Sara Hardy Market in Downtown Traverse City runs through October. But the farm-fresh season doesn’t end there. The indoor farm market at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons means you can buy honey, vegetables, and handmade goodies all year round.Benjamin Twigs Cherry Basket

3.  Locally-made Specialty Products 

Yes we are the Cherry Capital of the World. And purveyors like Benjamin Twiggs have opened our eyes to the bounty of our region. Foodies can share a taste of Traverse City anytime thanks to our growing specialty foods industry. It’s pretty amazing when you realize even a PB&J can be locally made. (I recommend the Naturally Nutty cinnamon vanilla sunflower butter, American Spoon fruit preserves on Old Mission Multigrain, with a side of Great Lakes Potato Chips).

4 Beer, Wine & Spirits 

Who likes to eat without something to drink? Access to local fruit, hops and grains means even our alcohol is locally made. The pastoral landscapes along Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsula with neatly trained rows of vineyards are a vital component in Traverse City’s tourism draw. But it’s not just wine tasting that has travelers keen for a visit. The opportunity to take a tour at the Grand Traverse Distillery, or buy craft beer by the growler means visitors are taking home more than a buzz.

5.  Fabulous Food Events 15250877511_330a9b4700_z

We aren’t just a one-festival town these days. And a growing number of events have culinary at their core. Festivals offer entertainment and an opportunity to explore many tastes in one place, which is great for foodies. Whether it’s summertime Paella in the Park, Restaurant Week mid-winter or a celebration of spring at Green Cuisine, there’s a party on a paper plate nearly every weekend if you know where to look.

So that’s five reasons I think it’s great we live in a Foodie town. But I did say 5 1/2. There’s a reason they call the streaming content on social media a feed. My Twitter & Instagram accounts are very hungry. So I give partial credit to our lovely town for providing such a delicious feast for my iphoneography.

What else can I say? We are living in a foodie town, and I am a foodie girl.

About the Author Author Photo

Brandy Wheeler is the creator of the Traverse Traveler app, a free smartphone app designed to promote northern Michigan restaurants and attractions to area visitors. She lives in Traverse City with her husband and two sons. Look for more of Brandy’s adventures online at TraverseTraveler.com or say hi on Twitter @TraverseTravelr.

Watch Traverse City’s Official Theme Song Video!

What do you love about Traverse City? Beaches, colorful sunsets, delicious food, award-winning wines, craft brews, four season recreation, and so much more—whatever you favor you will find in “Take Me There”—Traverse City Tourism’s new theme song by The Hacky Turtles.

“Take Me There” was selected from 18 entries submitted in this summer’s Song Search contest. The Hacky Turtles consist of vocalist Marc Kanitz, Austin Spencer on guitar, Alex Rushlow on guitar/vocals and Erik Krueger on drums. They describe themselves as a “funk/reggae fusion band with strong folk roots,” and their song is a wistful celebration of the things they love best about Traverse City.

The video features the Hacky Turtles and an evocative series of local landscapes and scenes displaying highlights of a Traverse City summer and more!

Special thanks to Andy Wakeman photography, Grant Floering for recording the song and Pure Michigan for highlighting it on their blog!

An Unlikely (but Really Fun!) Attraction: the Boardman River Fish Weir

 

Hanging out at the fish weir...

Hanging out at the fish weir…

By MIKE NORTON

Sometime in the next week or two, one of Traverse City’s most popular seasonal attractions will be opening. Each day, hundreds of people – especially kids – will congregate along the Boardman River on Hall Street, in the city’s warehouse district. If this season is anything like past years, there will be lots of laughter, jumping up and down, pointing of fingers and juvenile squealing.

A lot of fuss over fish, you might think. But these are BIG fish, and there are lots of them – all hanging out at the bend in the river and waiting their turn to swim into the James P. Price Trap and Transfer Harvest Facility (which we locals just call the Boardman River Fish Weir).

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On any given day during the fall salmon run – which usually starts in the third week of September and runs to the end of October – there can be so many Chinook and Coho backed up below the fence-like weir that you could almost walk across the river on their big slippery backs. Assuming you’d want to.

But the big fun (especially for youngsters) is watching the huge fish make their way, leap by leap, up the churning water of the fish ladder into the facility’s three holding bays, where they cruise back and forth like caged tigers and splash the unwary onlookers. Each year, anywhere from 3,000 to 13,000 salmon are trapped and harvested at the weir, while other species are returned to the water and allowed to continue their journey upstream.

Typically, this happens about once a week, whenever there are around 1,000 fish available at one time. (The number of fish entering the weir depends largely on the weather; when there’s been more rain, the water gets cooler and the fish respond by swimming upstream.)

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The weir may not seem like a particularly sporting way to catch fish, but it’s very necessary. Since 1985 the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been planting Pacific salmon in the Boardman to enhance the once-depleted fishery in Grand Traverse Bay, a move that brought our local sportfishing industry back from the edge of disaster.

But salmon are huge fish, and when they swim upstream to spawn and die they can create a smelly, unsightly problem. The solution? Remove them from the river before that happens! The state went into partnership with Traverse City Light & Power and built the Trap and Transfer Facility, named for former TCL&P board member Jim Price.

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Now all those captured Cohos and Chinooks are brought inside, iced down and sold – eventually to be turned into salmon fillets, smoked salmon and cat food, while their eggs are made into caviar or used for bait. Other fish – steelhead, brown trout, lake trout and Atlantic salmon – are released back into the river. (There’s another fish ladder just upstream at the Union Street dam where you can watch them make their final climb to freedom.)

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None of that seems to matter to the families who crowd around the weir during the salmon run to watch the fish climb that watery ladder and prowl the long concrete alleyways of the holding bays. In fact, the DNR gives free tours of the facility to school groups and other members of the public, showing them how weirs and fish ladders work and talking about the threat of invasive species and how Michigan’s fish hatcheries rear fish. It’s quite a blend of history, biology and environmental stewardship.

Public tours this year will be offered on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. To check for times, go to www.michigan.gov/huntfishcenter. (Other tours can be scheduled through the week by appointment.) To schedule a tour or a school field trip  to the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center in Cadillac — or to arrange for to arrange for a visit from the DNR’s “Salmon in the Classroom” program, contact park interpreter Edward Shaw at 231-779-1321 or shawe@michigan.gov.

 

Home is Where You Run

It’s sticky-hot, one of the final days of summer, and my feet have a mind of their own — they’re taking me past my parked car and toward the sparkling waters of West Bay. Water. Cold, refreshing water.

I come to the end of Maple Street, the sweet bakery smells greeting me as I run past Bay Bread and turn the corner taking me closer to the beach. I stop at the crosswalk, then sprint across the busy Parkway, keeping up a steady pace until I reach the quiet, sandy shore.

After six sweltering miles on hilly trails and steaming city streets, I’ve earned this dip in the Bay. I tear off my socks and shoes, toss my watch and sunglasses on the pile, and jump in. The chilly early-morning water is a jolt to my sweat-drenched skin, but my muscles nearly sigh in relief. I dive under once, then turn to float on my back, staring at the cloudless sky, the swoosh of cars and trucks driving past fading as my head falls below the surface. West Bay Beach

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of swimming — well, more like soaking — after a hard run on a humid day. It’s one of my most favorite pleasures in life. Living in Traverse City, there’s plenty of places to achieve this bliss, of course — whether it’s inland lakes (I’m partial to Spider Lake, where my dad lives and I have a favorite 10-mile loop), or the Bays (I’ve enjoyed post-run dips most often near West End Beach after navigating downtown streets, and Traverse City State Park on East Bay is where I’ve soaked my fatigued calf muscles after especially tough training runs out Old Mission Peninsula).

I’ve discovered that my love of running is as much about the landscape surrounding me as it is about the activity itself. I’d like to think I’d be a runner no matter where I lived, but there’s no doubt that northern Michigan’s year-round beauty helps fuel my passion for this sport. Wayne Hill

Aside from beachside running and breathtaking water views — trust me when I say the reward that is the scene atop Wayne Hill never, ever gets old no matter how many times you run up that steep incline — I’m a trail lover at heart who relishes tree-lined dirt paths and wood-planked bridges. Getting lost in thought on hours-long runs on the Vasa is my way of re-centering when life gets busy. Earlier this summer, as it began to rain hard on a morning I planned to run my neighborhood trails, I couldn’t lace up my shoes fast enough. Crazy as it may sound to some, running in the rain in the woods, with all that lushness around me, makes me feel alive.

Eight years of running, in beautiful spots across Michigan and throughout the U.S., have taught me this: traveling by foot is the very best way to truly see and know a community. I’ve been surprised to realize just how well I now know my own hometown of Traverse City. Though I grew up here, it’s only as a runner that I’ve become intimate with street names, even the most out-of-the-way ones, both on the east and west sides of town. I know exact distances between neighborhoods and businesses and landmarks, thanks to the many miles logged throughout the past several years. (Go ahead, ask me just how many miles is between the Boardman Lake trail and the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, or from the Open Space to the start of the Bayshore Marathon route. I could tell you about the short-cuts to and from these places, too.) It’s a runner thing. Run long enough in a particular area and it’s just how your brain works. Half-mile from here to there. Seven miles flat from this place to that spot. Ice Crystals

I love that running in Traverse City includes picturesque views no matter the time of year, and in fact the changing seasons only add to the variety of experiences you’ll have while pounding the pavement or taking to the trails. Winter running is especially interesting, and this past year, as we endured an especially long and brutal season of snow and cold, running revealed new treasures: water frozen hard enough to run on; diamond-like ice crystals strewn along the shoreline as West Bay (finally) began to thaw; and the sounds of ice cracking as it melted along East Bay during a 17-mile training run.

My hope is to keep running, for as long as I am able — to remain healthy and strong in body and mind, and to stay connected with this gorgeous place I call home. Heather

Heather Johnson Durocher is a journalist who lives with her husband and their three children in Traverse City. She is the publisher and editor of MichiganRunnerGirl.com, a site dedicated to running and living healthy in Michigan. Take a look at her great list of routes, areas, and upcoming races to run while in Traverse City.

 

Traverse City’s Latest Foodie Boom: Artisanal Cheesemaking

By MIKE NORTON

Already famed for its wines, craft beers and innovative farm-to-table cuisine, this northern Michigan resort town is now acquiring a new reputation as a center of artisanal cheesemaking.

“People just love cheese. It makes them giddy and goofy — tasting it, talking about it,” says Sue Kurta,who left a promising career on Wall Street to become  the “big cheese” at Boss Mouse, a small-batch creamery in the village of Kingsley, just south of  Traverse City. “As foods go, cheese is very accessible.”

Even among small cheese operations, Kurta’s one-woman operation is tiny: she produces about 100 pounds of aged natural-rind cheese a week – from an aqed cheddar and a Monasio (an Italian-style”washed curd” cheese that’s a bit like Monterey Jack) to a nutty “sweet Swiss” and several varieties of mozzarella.

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The area’s reputation for fine cheeses actually began several years ago with the advent of the Leelanau Cheese Co. John Hoyt and his French-born wife, Anne, produce an aged Swiss-style raclette and a variety of soft fresh Fromage Blanc cheeses. When they started their operation – using space behind the wine-tasting room at Black Star Farms, between Traverse City and nearby Suttons Bay — the Hoyts weren’t sure they could wean customers away from their preference for imported European varieties.

They needn’t have worried. After their aged raclette was voted Best of Show at the 24th American Cheese Society competition in 2007, demand for their products has skyrocketed. (It didn’t hurt when superstar chef Mario Batali confessed in the pages of Bon Appetit that he uses their raclette on his pizza.) Traverse City restaurants regularly feature their cheeses, and most retail stores in the area also carry them. Last year they moved into a larger space of their own, where they can substantially increase production.

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They now produce around 50,000 pounds of cheese per year. And although that may sound like a lot of cheese, they still consider themselves a fairly small-scale operation.

“We’re never going to be terribly big because there isn’t enough milk being produced in this area for a really big cheesemaking operation,” says Anne Hoyt. “There just aren’t enough cows.”

In keeping with the area’s passion for locally-based agriculture, both the Hoyts and Sue Kurta make their cheese with milk from nearby dairy herds. The Hoyts get theirs from farmer Denis Garvin in the nearby village of Cedar, while Boss Mouse’s milk comes from the same herd that produces Traverse City’s signature ice cream, Moomer’s (voted “best scoop in America” by viewers of “Good Morning America”).

But Mark and Amy Spitznagel of Northport have gone a step further:  the cheese at their Idyll Farms Creamery is made from milk produced by their own herd of Alpine and Saanen goats. Now in their second year of business, they’re nearing their goal of 150 milking goats – the country’s largest pasture-raised goat herd – producing up to 80,000 pounds of French-style goat cheeses (chevre, camembert, crottin and tommes) a year. They, too, are playing starring roles in the area’s bustling restaurant and farm-market culture.

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“I think this has the potential to be pretty huge,” says Stuart Mitchell of Cherry Capital Foods, a company that markets products from small farmers and food creators. “Frankly, the sky’s the limit right now. Farm-to-table cuisine is very important to many restaurants, and we’re seeing a lot of enthusiasm for cheeses that reflect the taste and personality of this region.”

Just as important, local cheesemakers are receiving lots of attention from the traveling public. The new Leelanau Cheese creamery/tasting room was designed expressly with visitors in mind; customers can even watch through a large glass wall as the cheese is made.

Idyll Farms, too, is impressive enough to be a destination in its own right. Perched on a high bluff above Lake Michigan, the 200-acre farm is over a century old and features cheese-curing caves made from huge glacial boulders, as well as a handsome set of cupola-topped designer barns and outbuildings. They’re open for scheduled tours, too.

20+ Tasty Brews at Five of Traverse City’s Craft Breweries

Traverse City is home to world-class dining, award winning wineries, stunning views, sugar sand beaches, and the best sunsets in all the world, but did you know that it’s also one the best beer cities in America?

Back in 2012, the Travel Channel named Traverse City as the best emerging beer town in America. Just two short years ago, they wrote of how impressive it was for such a small town to have four microbreweries.  Boy, how things have changed…

Traverse City now has over 10 breweries, with more on the way. So when Traverse City Tourism invited me to cover the local beer scene, I knew a trip was in order – there were so many I haven’t had a chance to try!

I spent last weekend exploring five Traverse City breweries we hadn’t visited before. We drank, we talked with the staff and made friends with the other customers, and then drank some more.

On to the show! Here’s the scoop on our weekend:

Stop #1: Brewery Terra Firma3d printed tap handle at Terra Firma (1)

Located just five miles from the heart of downtown Traverse City, Brewery Terra Firma describes itself as both a brewery and an agricultural destination. They embrace eco-conscious practices like sustainable brewing methods and innovative waste/water recycling operations. They opened just one short year ago, and already have an impressive lineup.

What I drank:

  • Beehive Honey Blond, 5.4% ABV
  • Manitou Amber Ale, 5.3% ABV
  • Scarborough Fair, Herb beer, 5.8%
  • John Henry Stout, 6.2% ABV
  • Magnum Hospitality IPA, 8% ABV
  • Cherry Festive Ale, Bourbon Barrel Aged Cherry Ale 7.5%
  • Stillhouse Stout, 7.5%

My favorite:

It’s a tie:

Magnum Hospitality IPA had a strong floral nose, but was intensely hoppy on the palate. My favorite kind of IPA, there was nothing subtle about this one.

Cherry Festive Ale – I was surprised how much I liked this – I’m normally not a fan of fruity beers. This one is made with local cherries from Kings Orchards, and aged in Traverse City Whiskey Bourbon Barrels. It’s light compared to other bourbon barrel beers I’ve had, but packs quite a punch. You’ll have to be careful with this one!

Fun fact: Head brewer John Niedermaier was the former head brewer at the now-defunct Traverse City Brewing Company. When John decided to open Brewery Terra Firma, he discovered that the bank owned his recipes from TCBC – he actually had to buy them back!Beer at Rare Bird

Stop #2: Rare Bird Brewpub

Rare Bird is Traverse City’s newest brewpub, opening their doors just two  months ago. They are located in a gorgeous red brick building right next to Patisserie Amie.

Everything they brew is in small batches right now, so when we arrived they only had two  of their own beers available, but there were plenty of other craft selections to choose from. They also have a delicious and creative menu – I highly recommend the pork belly sliders!

What I drank:

  • Her Name Was Amber, Amber Ale, 4.7%
  • WhipPourWill, Belgian Wit with orange peels & coriander, 4%

My favorite:

Loved them both, but WhipPourWill was my favorite of the two. It was a spicy, well-balanced Belgian.

Fun fact: The owners, Nate and Tina, met in a brewery, but their first words weren’t about beer – they were about birds. They are both birding enthusiasts, hence the name of the brewery. Workshop Brewing Co

Stop #3: Workshop Brewing Company

Located just west of the downtown area, Workshop Brewing Co. is the embodiment of their motto: Nature. Community. Craft. The tasting room has a big bar perfect to belly up to and make friends at, and tons of seating both indoors and outside for larger groups. They also have fun bar games, including one where you have to try to swing a ring on a string onto a hook on the wall. I watched the same guy try this for the 90 minutes I was there- it’s addictive (and probably frustrating)!

Workshop has a huge lineup of beers, and there’s something on that menu for everyone, no matter what your palate.

What I drank:

  • Uncapper, Honey Stock Ale, 5.5% ABV
  • Trotsky’s Axe, Belgian Pale Ale, 5.3% ABV
  • 10lbs Cascade, IPA, 5.5% ABV
  • Wrecking Bar, Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter, 8.5% ABV
  • Crowbar, Belgian Dark Ale, 5% ABV
  • Tenpenny, American Blond Ale, 4.9% ABV
  • Tenfranc, Experiment Ale (Tenpenny with Belgian yeast), 4.9% ABV
  • Sickle, Saison, 7.5% ABV

My favorite:

Crowbar – This Belgian dark had virtually no bitterness, and tons of great Belgian flavor.

Fun fact: Workshop actually occupies the space that Right Brain Brewery originated in.

Stop #4: The Filling Station

The Filling Station is a family owned and operated brewery that opened in 2012 located in Traverse City’s former train station. The space is family friendly, with sandboxes out front for kiddos to play in, tons of outdoor and indoor seating, and TV’s all around. The staff was so friendly, even in the middle of a crazy dinnertime rush – you can tell they really love their jobs. Their menu consists of pizza and salads – probably the best pizza in Traverse City, which made this the perfect dinnertime stop.Filling Station Flight

In homage to their location near the railroad, each beer is called a “track”, when they run out of one, a little sign goes up indicating that it’s been “Derailed”, and the flights come in these cool little train holders.

What I drank:

  • Empire Imperial IPA, 8.5% ABV
  • Walla Walla IPA, 7.6% ABV
  • Liverpool Porter, 5.2% ABV
  • Liesing Amber Lager, 4.8% ABV
  • Manchester Mild, 3.7% ABV
  • St. Clair Stout, 4.5% ABV

My favorite:

Walla Walla IPA – a perfect pairing with my pizza, Walla Walla packs a punch without being overwhelming. It’s crisp and light with just the right balance of hoppiness.

Fun fact: If you order a flight, hold on to the selection sheet you filled out. The train on the paper will face the same way as the train flight holder – that’s how you know which beer is where. If you lose the paper, you’ll either have to guess or ask. Don’t ask me how I know that.

Stop #5: Right Brain Brewery

Full disclosure on this one – I had been to Right Brain back when it was in The Workshop’s location, but not since they moved to their gorgeous and HUGE new space in 2012.Flight at Right Brain

Right Brain was the perfect last stop – after four other breweries that day, I was worried that my palate would be blown out, and I wouldn’t be able to taste anything. But thanks to Right Brain’s unique beers, my palate woke itself back up, and I was treated to some of the most surprising and creative tastes I had had all day.  They are well known for their wacky beer flavors like Spear Beer (with real asparagus added during the brewing process) and  Mangalitsa Pig Porter, brewed with pig heads and bones.

What I drank:

  • Concrete Dinosaur, Brown Rye IPA, 7.2% ABV
  • Blue Magic, Lavender Ale, 4.5% ABV
  • Hefe Cubano, Coffee Hefeweizen, 5.9% ABV
  • Midnight Rendezvous, Black Ale, 5% ABV
  • North Shore Iron Works, Barleywine, 8.9% ABV
  • Looping Owl, Barrel Aged Amber, 6.8%
  • Cherry Pie Whole, Amber Ale made with whole cherry pies, 5.2%
  • TC Cherry Mash, Hybrid Cherry Wine Ale, 3.9% ABV

My favorite:

Hefe Cubano – Light in color, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. One sip, though, and I was sold – the coffee comes through loud and clear on the palate, and is balanced out by sweet banana notes.

Bonus: Biggest Surprise: Cherry Pie Whole – I had this the first year they came out with it, and wasn’t a big fan. It’s come a long way! The cherry pie flavor is well layered now – first you get the filling, then some great maltiness, and end on rich, biscuity, pie crust flavor.

Fun fact: There’s a salon attached to Right Brain called Salon Saloon, and those getting their hair cut can actually order a Right Brain beer to enjoy during their services. Russ Springsteen, founder of Right Brain, began his career as a hair stylist, and wanted to keep that part of his life alive in his new venture.

Five  breweries is a lot to do in a single day, especially with the goal of tasting as many of their selections as possible. But this was work, and someone has to do the hard jobs, right?  I would strongly recommend that instead of following in our exact footsteps, you select one or two to visit per trip, and really spend some time in them – each boasts its own unique vibe along with unique beer. No matter what your taste, whether you’re a seasoned craft beer pro or new to the scene, Traverse City breweries have something on tap for you.

Special thanks to the AmericInn in Traverse City for hosting me this weekend. It’s a great property in a great location, and their staff was top-notch. I also would not have been able to make this trip happen without my trusty designated driver – a must-have whenever you’re out exploring breweries!

DRINK-MICHIGAN

 

Trisha Verma is the co-founder of Drink Michigan, a company dedicated to promoting and celebrating Michigan wine, beer, and spirits. A lifelong Michigander, she enjoys spending her weekends exploring the state, looking for great craft beer, good wine, strong whisky, and new friends. Luckily, she never has to look far. (All photos courtesy of Trisha and Drink Michigan) 

Traverse City Icon To Star at This Year’s Buckley Old Engine Show

A huge Case steam tractor at the Buckley Old Engine Show...

A huge Case steam tractor at the Buckley Old Engine Show…

By MIKE NORTON

I’ve got good news for those of you who’ve wondered whatever became of the Spirit of Traverse City — the miniature steam locomotive train that used to take passengers around the lawns and pathways of Clinch Park. Newly refurbished and restored, the little train will make its debut this month at the Buckley Old Engine Show, just a few miles south of here.

Two years ago, the Spirit of Traverse City was deeded to the Northwest Michigan Engine & Thresher Club, which started the annual Old Engine Show back in 1967. Since then, volunteers have completely restored the engine and cars from top to bottom and laid out a track, complete with an enclosed trestle.

“We even added a caboose, which the original train never had,” says club spokesman Jim Luper. “It’s the cutest thing you ever saw. We’re really excited. Now visitors can ride two trains – the Spirit of Traverse City and our 1918 steam train.”

Every year on the third weekend in August, the little town of Buckley explodes into roaring, clanking, chugging, shuddering life as more than 50,000 visitors descend on the Old Engine Show, one of the largest gatherings of huge antique machines in the world. This year’s show runs Aug. 14-17.

Farmall tractors!

Farmall tractors!

Hundreds of these iron behemoths – steam traction engines, rock crushers, balers, sawmills, more than 700 gas and oil-fueled engines and well over 1,000 antique tractors — are on display during this four-day event. It’s a mechanical wonderland of old-fashioned noise, steam and power – guaranteed to dispel any illusions you may have had about the “quiet past” of the 19th century. Confected of gleaming brass, polished steel, engine oil and woodsmoke, the Old Engine Show is a four-pronged assault on the senses. And people love it.

Since its beginnings, it has evolved from what club members cheerfully admit was “a bunch of men showing off their old engines” into an immense labor of love that encompasses hundreds of families — sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and grandparents who construct new exhibits, maintain the club grounds, run the exhibits, and direct traffic.

The Engine Show occupies its own 200-acre preserve just west of the village. Within its boundaries, the club has created a small settlement of its own  — a recreated turn-of-the-century Main Street from a typical Michigan lumber town (which is what Buckley once was) with its own train depot, switch house, blacksmith shop, leather shop, cobbler, barber, print shop and town hall.

A craft demonstration...

A craft demonstration…

Beyond the sheer impressiveness of watching an enormous 250-horsepower steam engine at work, there’s a long-term educational strategy at work in Buckley — to preserve and appreciate the ingenuity of the 19th-century craftsmen and technicians who created the first generation of useful agricultural and industrial machines. This year’s show, for instance, includes a special exhibit of five engines (three steam, one diesel and one water-powered) that once belonged to auto pioneer Henry Ford and the Henry Ford Museum.

There are even attractions for those who can’t get themselves excited about wandering through a labyrinth of enormous antique engines. There are parades each day, a petting zoo, an enormous flea market with 600 market stalls, demonstrations of traditional non-mechanical skills like soap making, spinning and weaving, regular dances and “old-fashioned music” recitals from over 200 musicians. And on a hot summer day there’s really nothing like the experience of tasting ice cream that’s been churned by a steam engine!

The Buckley Old Engine Show grounds are located on M-37 between Traverse City and Cadillac. Tickets are $10 per day for adults (or $25 for a four-day pass.) Kids 15 and under are admitted free. More detailed information about the Buckley Old Engine Show can be found on their excellent web site: www.buckleyoldengineshow.org.

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Plein-Air Painting with Traverse City Artist Bill Hosner

“Life inspires my work – I live simply, work passionately and observe constantly.” – Bill Hosner

The Traverse City region is rich with sources of inspiration. The awe-inspiring scenery, incredible beaches, delectable dining, and award-winning wineries are just a few things that fuel creativity for many of the area’s artists. On living and painting here, local artist Bill Hosner states, “My work is now featured in national and international museum collections and exhibitions, but it is here that I return to center myself and do some of my best work.”

A recent visit with Bill provided a behind-the-scenes perspective on living and creating in Traverse City. During the visit, simplicity and minimalism were themes Bill continually wove into the conversation about his lifestyle. His gallery, studio and home are all one unit in the newer, multipurpose usage buildings off Woodmere Avenue. The gallery is pristine and features his paintings, library, local artisan furniture and selected inspirational quotes. The studio is half bedroom and half work space speckled with other artist’s paintings as well as Bill’s sketch wall. The simplicity of his lifestyle is what allows him to travel, teach, and continually create.

Bill Hosner Studio

As a plein-air artist Bill’s work is done entirely outside (with the exception of his daily sketches). Nature, water, and individuals dominate his works that are rich with texture, color, and hidden depth. He is continually inspired by the landscape, the people, the light and the energy in Traverse City.

Bill Hosner

When he’s not painting he enjoys all that Traverse City offers to its fullest. Favorites in the local culinary scene include AmicalRed Ginger, The Cook’s House, Bistro Fou Fou, and Tratorria Stella – “all are fabulous!” A periodic tour of the wineries, window-shopping downtown or in the Mercado at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons he notes are great getaways from work. Nostalgic at heart he also enjoys going to a Beach Bum’s game as it is “great fun and reminiscent of a kind of baseball that childhood memories are made of.”

Bill’s work is featured internationally and he has ample opportunities to live and work in many other incredible destinations. What is it about Traverse City that keeps him coming back? His reply is layered and begins with praise to the obvious natural beauty, “If you’re a plein-air painter like myself, this is the only place in Michigan to be.” He also appreciates the boundless cultural opportunities within the city and mentions a few of his preferred events and venues including, The National Writers Series, Traverse Symphony Orchestra, The Dennos Museum and Interlochen.

“There are a great number of talented people in Traverse City that are in cross-venue creative fields, writers, singers, musicians, dancers, actors . . . and I enjoy the social intercourse I have with many of them. It enhances my own creative efforts.”

Bill’s studio is located at 1129 Woodmere Avenue Studio H. A sample of his paintings are also online but to fully experience his artistry a visit to his studio is needed. Please call ahead to check for hours of operation.

Bill Hosner Studio

 

A Local’s Perspective During Summer

Born with a sense of wanderlust I am always excited about different travel opportunities, large and small. Ten years ago when I moved to Traverse City I never would have imagined a time when I would decline a road trip or feel excited to return home after a vacation. As a newbie to the area, I was familiar with the most popular tourist attractions and visiting them never got stale. On the flip side, my desire to explore more of Traverse City and Northwest Michigan continues to burn strong even during the summer, the busiest tourist season of the year!

The most recent accolade from livability.com named Traverse City as a Top 10 Small Town and praised the city for “its stable economy, captivating natural attractions, lively community festivals, four seasons of recreational activities” and more. This award as well as others showcase the exciting nature of Traverse City and make me enthusiastic about exploring “TC” as a tourist in my own town. A few of my favorite activities include running in races along our many scenic courses, frequent trips the beach (Good Harbor is the best), and visiting the area’s brewpubs. Solstice

The Glen Arbor Solstice half marathon kicked off my summer adventures and it was an awesome way to begin the season. Being my first half, I was nervous about the course and the last two miles. All of that nervous energy was somehow magically transformed into fuel that my body used throughout the race. Even when I thought I was getting tired the incredible scenery pulled me through, especially at Inspiration Point and through the narrows in Glen Arbor. Would I do it again? The answer is a resounding yes, and if you are a runner you should too!

This year’s cooler temperatures were great for the race and continue to be perfect for running or hiking. I enjoy the refreshing breezes and appreciate the season for what it is and have not let it interfere with my summer agenda, especially when a beach day is needed! Whether it’s mid 70′s or high 80′s there’s always an ideal day to visit Good Harbor beach in Leelanau County. Even on the cloudy days there’s a magical feeling when your toes hit the sand and the immense view of Lake Michigan emerges. Just be sure to pack a few layers as you never know what the weather will bring.

Following many of these active adventures is usually a visit to one of our area’s many brewpubs. A recent favorite is the Workshop Brewing Company. The beer is top notch, the food is great (the People’s Grilled Cheese is amazing) and the casual atmosphere make it one of our preferred places to hang out with local friends and visitors alike. It’s also family friendly with a kid’s menu (that even has buttered noodles on it) and a variety of vintage arcade games to keep our little ones entertained.

Every summer in Traverse City provides a new canvas for creating memories while enjoying sunsetthese and many other activities. It’s truly amazing to live and play in this evolving city that is rich with accolades. The wanderlust still tugs at my soul, but it is not hard to fulfill in this incredible area of Northwest Michigan! The best part about each adventure is that I am never too far from home…

 

About the Author: Coryn Briggs is the new Digital Marketing & Design Specialist at Traverse City Tourism. A Detroit area native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a masters in Recreation and Tourism Management at Michigan State University. She has lived and worked in Traverse City since 2004 and enjoys baking, thrift shopping, running, visiting Traverse City’s many brewpubs, beaches, and recreational trails. She is married to Jay Briggs, winemaker at 45 North Vineyard and Winery. They have two young daughters.

 

 

The Traverse Symphony Goes Outdoors This Weekend

The Great Lawn at the Grand Traverse Commons

The Great Lawn at the Grand Traverse Commons

Over the past few years, the wide grassy Historic Lawn at the The Village at Grand Traverse Commons has become one of Traverse City’s best-loved outdoor event spaces, Surrounded by tall trees and the creamy brick walls of the Traverse City State Hospital, it plays host to lots of weddings, private parties and two major warm-weather events: the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival, and the Summer Microbrew & Music Festival.

But this Saturday it’s going to be the scene of a different kind of musical evening entirely – an outdoor concert by the Traverse Symphony Orchestra directed by Maestro Kevin Rhodes, under a 20,000-square-foot “grand event tent.”

TSOattheCommonsKrista Cooper, the TSO’s executive director, has hopes that the outdoor concert – called TSO@The Village — will showcase the orchestra “in an approachable and fun format” for listeners who may never have experienced a traditional concert-hall setting.

“Much like the music we create, the Traverse Symphony Orchestra is vibrant,” she said. “We are providing experiences that open the door to classical music via programming and environments that are fun, energetic, moving, powerful and engaging.”

The TSO string section

The TSO string section

Not only will the concert program include such crowd-pleasers as Wagner’s download (1)“Ride of the Valkyries,” Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture” and Ravel’s “Bolero” – it’ll also feature a light show and a pre-concert show by the Louis Armstrong tribute band Satchmo and Traverse City’s hugely popular folk-rock duo, The Accidentals. In fact, The Accidentals  (18-year-olds Savannah Buist and Katie Larson)  will be backed up by the 72-member TSO for the premiere performance of a new original song, “Mangrove,” which they wrote and scored for orchestra themselves.

But wait, as they say, there’s more! Concert attendees will also be able to enjoy a picnic featuring local foods paired with local beers and wines. The concert also will includes a “walking tour map” of both peninsulas, highlighted by popular landmarks placed around the Commons lawn: a form of “aerial art” that can only be fully appreciated from overhead, and a pair of “lighthouse galleries” where local photographers and artists will pay tribute to the region’s four seasons.

If this fever-dream extravaganza sounds as though it came from the mind of local entrepreneur Sam Porter, that’s because his company – Porterhouse Productions – is working with the TSO on the outdoor concert. The company is also providing a 20,000-square foot “grand event tent” that can shelter the orchestra and audience in case of inclement weather.

The family-friendly atmosphere of TSO@The Village includes lawn seating for picnic blankets and low 16-inch high chair backs. Adut tickets start at $35  and kids at $15. Upgraded VIP seating starts at $95 with table seating available. They can be ordered online at www.mynorthtickets.com.

For more information about the concert call 1-800-836-0717 or go to www.traversesymphony.org/tso-the-commons