From an epic Irish bonanza and avant garde mimes to clover clad pets and post-modern dancers, this month is going to be weird, wild and wondrous.
Irish on Ionia
This year marks the fifth anniversary of Michigan’s largest St. Patty’s Day party, Irish on Ionia. The hugely popular event is expected to draw an unprecedented 20,000 attendees and to accommodate the revelers, the shindig will now span three city blocks beginning at Ionia Street and stretching to Commerce Avenue. Kicking off at 7 a.m. party goers can enjoy a kegs and eggs breakfast where the first 200 people to show up will enjoy a free breakfast buffet. Mayor George Heartwell will give his annual toast and a limerick around 11 a.m. and the rest of the day will be jam-packed with nonstop entertainment, food carts and boozy delights.
Catch the top three Michigan Irish bands, Stone Clover, The Tosspoints and The Waxies with DJ sets mixed in between. To keep the party hopping, Bangarang Circus will be creating a spectacle, bagpipers will be making the rounds and even a youth dance troupe will regale the crowd. New this year is a treasure hunt created in partnership with FOX17. “We’ve created 50 of these really cool five-year coins that will be hidden around Downtown GR,” said Shane Philipsen, sales and event manager for BarFly Ventures. “One of these coins will get you a VIP ticket.” Crafted out of antique gold, the coins will be easy to spot and clues to their whereabouts will be found on Irish On Ionia’s Instagram as well as through FOX17. So keep your eyes peeled!
Downtown Grand Rapids
March 14, 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
General admission $15
Camp O’Mally ticket $25
VIP ticket $55
irishonionia.com, (616) 454-9105
Erin Go Bark! Pet Parade
The 13th annual Erin Go Bark! Pets and their People Parade returns to this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Saugatuck area. Any pet that can be trotted out in public (no tarantulas, please) is welcome to march in the parade along with their loyal human companions. Pets are encouraged to “express their Irish side” and dress in a “wee bit of green.” Prizes will be award to the best-dressed pets. So doll up your dogs, gussie up those gerbils and fancy up your leashed felines for some fun. The parade line up begins at 1:30 p.m. in the Culver Street Parking Lot.
March 14, 2 p.m.
saugatuck.com, (269) 857-1701
Midwest RAD Fest
RAD Fest, aka the Midwest Regional Alternative Dance Festival, proves that dance is not dead. Over the course of five days more than 250 contemporary dance artists will perform in this juried event that showcases modern, post-modern and experimental dance by emerging talent culled from across the region. Live performances, an interactive design installation, master classes, film viewings and even a discussion panel offer a myriad of opportunities for audiences and dancers alike. Some events are invite-only like the Choreography and Cocktails kick-off. Many other events are open to the public and one even includes audience participation through a Kinect motion sensor that takes movement to a multi-media level.
Wellspring Theater, Kalamazoo
midwestradfest.org, (269) 342-4354
Come again? Mummen-what? Mummenschanz is German for mummery and was a term akin to mime artists in the 1500s. In 1972, a trio of Swiss collaborators created a performance art group by that name, specializing in Mask Theater (think surreal masks and strange props). After more than 40 years of touring the world, Mummenschanz is coming to Wharton Center to present an utterly unique stage experience. Weird shapes, bizarre objects and figures perform compelling stories without sound or even music.
“They use a lot of pantomime and dance,” said Bob Hoffman, public relations manager at Wharton Center. “They’ve taken their development of masks and playing techniques and expanded it.” Despite what is described as a “wordless universe,” the show has enjoyed wide acclaim and garners wildly enthusiast reviews. “It’s so captivating that it makes people laugh and the only thing you’re hearing is the reaction of the audience,” said Ryonn Clute, marketing manager at Wharton Center, who has seen the show previously. Forget your mime fears and get weird.
Wharton Center, Lansing
March 25, 7:30 p.m.
whartoncenter.com, (517) 353-1982