Tuesday, 02 June 2015 17:01

A Short List of West Michigan’s Festive Fixtures

Written by  Dwayne Hoover
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Red Tail Ring at Buttermilk Jamboree June 12-14 in Delton Red Tail Ring at Buttermilk Jamboree June 12-14 in Delton


Festival of the Arts
June 5-7, Grand Rapids, festivalgr.org
It’s not possible to cover the entire gamut of the art scene and deliver that to half a million people without going big, so Festival of the Arts in downtown Grand Rapids does just that. In addition to the opportunity to explore and even purchase various types of visual artwork, Festival celebrates performing arts like music, dance and theatre. Enjoy everything from poetry and storytelling to a juried art exhibition and films. There’s also no shortage of activities for you to try your hand at learning or creating something new. With performances going on six separate stages, an overwhelming variety of exhibits to enjoy and more food choices than you can handle, you might want to make a weekend out of this one.

Grand Haven Art Festival
June 27-28, Grand Haven, grandhavenchamber.org
Grand Haven Art Festival, held during the last weekend in June, features: paintings, sculptures, jewelry, photography, mixed media and digital art. The goal of this event is to provide people with “a unique opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind art, directly from the artist,” and you’ll definitely find that whether that’s in a thought-provoking photograph or a cool kinetic sculpture. A strong sense of community and a desire to directly support the endeavors of the artists themselves have made this event a success for over half a century. It’s a must-visit for anyone looking for a stylish conversation piece.

Lakeshore Art Festival
July 3-4, Muskegon, lakeshoreartfestival.org
Imagine walking along the streets of downtown Muskegon, perusing the artistic offerings of more than 250 exhibitors, enjoying some quality grub and being entertained by a variety of street performers along the way. That’s the scene at the Lakeshore Art Festival, which draws over 50,000 people to this two-day event. Swing the kids by Children’s Lane for some activities while you’re there, throw some paint on the Community Canvas and be sure to stick around well into the evening for the Rockstock Music Festival and fireworks, which both accompany this Independence Day event (and the day before).


Founders Fest 2015
June 20, Grand Rapids, foundersbrewing.com
You can’t become one of the finest breweries on the planet without strong community support. Founders Brewing Co. understands this, which is why once a year they close up their taproom and take the party, including music and beer, to the street as a “thank you” to the citizens of Grand Rapids. As in years past, the 21-and-over event hosts a variety of national and local acts, including Elephant Revival, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Organissimo and Devin and the Dead Frets.

Summerfest Music & Microbrews
July 18, St. Joseph, smso.org
Live music, good eats, and a gorgeous setting overlooking Lake Michigan on Silver Beach in St. Joseph are just a few of the reasons you’ll want to make Summerfest Music & Microbrews an entry on your summer festival itinerary. The big one, however, is beer. Summerfest brings in a selection from 18 of the area’s best microbreweries, an almost exclusively Michigan lineup, for your sampling or mug-chugging pleasure.

America On Tap
July 18, Grand Rapids, americaontap.com
If you’re interested in broadening your horizons and checking out what craft brewers in other parts of the country are offering, you may not want to miss America On Tap at John Ball Park. This craft beer festival is making over 70 stops around the country in 2015, already having visited Kalamazoo in May, and will bring well over 100 varieties from over 50 different breweries from across America. But don’t worry, even if you’re a Michigan beer loyalist, there will be solid local representation.


Taste of Muskegon
June 19-20, Muskegon, visitmuskegon.org
Over 20 Muskegon food vendors converge on Hackley Park for its ninth installment of Taste of Muskegon this year. As one of Muskegon’s larger celebrations, you’ll not only find mouth-watering food items from ethnic specialties to baked goods, but you can also check out the Michigan Beer and Wine Taste Garden, head on over to Western Avenue for the Downtown Car Show or enjoy live music from Stolen Horses and Delilah DeWylde & the Lost Boys.

Taste of Kalamazoo
July 23-25, Kalamazoo, tasteofkalamazoo.com
Pulled pork? Check. Sushi? Got it. Curry coconut lentils? Yep. Cheesecake on a stick? You bet. Michigan’s largest food festival marks its 30th year in 2015 and will proudly display over 30 of Kalamazoo’s finest eateries to thousands of attendees. But you can’t stuff your face all day without some tasty beer to wash it down or music to enjoy, so there will be plenty of both provided over the course of the three days, too.

Taste of Saugatuck
August 30, Saugatuck, saugatuck.com
Proudly proclaiming itself “The Art Coast of Michigan,” Saugatuck has reason to brag. The city is often cited as one of the best small-town tourist destinations in the country and recently won USA Today’s “Best Coastal Small Town” award. Come see what all the fuss is about when local food artisans serve up some tasty cuisine in Saugatuck’s largest festival of the year.


Buttermilk Jamboree
June 12-14, Delton, buttermilkjamboree.org
On the family friendlier side of things, at the Circle Pines Center in Delton, the Buttermilk Jamboree embraces not only traditional arts and music, but community and sustainability as well. Enjoy a weekend of rustic camping while taking part in one of the many artistic and musical workshops, sample food, beer, wine and mead from local vendors while listening to an eclectic assortment of local and regional musicians. As in years past, 2015 includes many West Michigan favorites in the lineup: Moxieville, Alexis, Funktion, Red Tail Ring, Deep Fried Pickle Project and The Crane Wives, to only name a few.

Electric Forest
June 25-28, Rothbury, electricforestfestival.com
Grab your glow sticks, body paint and hula hoops, but leave your inhibitions at home before embarking on your quest to Electric Forest in Rothbury. Be prepared for an all-out assault on your senses, both visually and musically, as this festival attempts to blend music and art in a seamless yet stunning way. The lineup is a who’s who of some of the best jam bands and electronic music artists around. The roster includes: The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Skrillex, Big Gigantic, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Yonder Mountain String Band and dozens more.

Kalamazoo Blues Festival
July 9-11, Kalamazoo, kvba.org
Back in 1994, The Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association was organized purely for the purpose of putting on the Kalamazoo Blues Festival. Now, some 20 years later, the KVBA has broadened its scope and aims to “promote, educate, and preserve the rich history of blues music.” But the Blues Fest is still its major endeavor, bringing some of the best local, regional and national blues artists to Arcadia Festival Creek Place for three days of soulful music.

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