5 Ways to Celebrate Michigan’s 177th Birthday

The state of Michigan turns 177 on Sunday! To help kick off Michigan’s birthday weekend, we asked Alex Beaton of The Awesome Mitten to share her recommendations on ways to celebrate.

Do you plan to celebrate Michigan’s birthday? Share with us in the comments section below!

Host a Michigan Birthday Party!

What better way to celebrate Michigan’s 177th Birthday than with a birthday party? Invite over some fellow Michiganders, drink Michigan beer, enjoy a plethora of MIchigan foods, play some Euchre – and our extra awesome “Michigan Bingo” that we’ve created just for the occasion! Not going to be in Michigan to celebrate the momentous event? Create a Google hangout with some other displaced Michiganders and enjoy all those activities virtually! We hosted our own and here’s the story about it.

Drink a Michigan beverage.

Michigan is home to several amazing drinks. Faygo and Vernors are some classic favorites, but in honor of Michigan’s 177th, branch out and try one of the newer Michigan pops; feel free to make your drink a little more adult with some local gin or whiskey. With Michigan’s craft beer industry booming, you also have the option to go to your favorite local specialty drink shop and create your own six pack of Michigan beers you haven’t tried before. And last but certainly not least, you can drink some of Michigan’s delicious wine! There are over 50 wineries in both Southwest and Northwest Michigan, so it’s easy to find something you’ll like that’s local too!

Enjoy some Michigan fudge or a pasty!

If there’s something Michigan does right, it’s food. For those with a sweet tooth, Michigan fudge is a must-have–grab some from Murdick’s in Traverse City or any Kilwin’s location across the state. If you’re looking for something a little more robust, try a pasty and argue with your friends about the pronunciation of this delicacy along with whether to top yours with ketchup or gravy.

Get outside!

We’re lucky in Michigan to have so many outdoor activities just outside our door! Even if you usually grumble about the snow and cold, take time on Michigan’s Birthday to be thankful for it: get outside and go ice skating, snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, snowboarding, or just take a walk and revel in Michigan’s natural beauty. There are plenty of ski runs and hiking trails around the state–we’re certain there’s at least one near you.

Plan your next weekend getaway.

Thinking about staying home this spring break to save some money? Why not plan a long weekend somewhere in Michigan? Enjoy the wine trails in Traverse City, plan a craft beer weekend in Beer City USA (Grand Rapids), or head over the bridge and enjoy all the Upper Peninsula has to offer!

How will you be celebrating Michigan’s 177th Birthday? Comment below, or share on Instagram & Twitter using the hashtag #177YearsofAwesome!

Alex Beaton is the Founder of The Awesome Mitten. A Michigan native, she grew up in Traverse City, went to college in East Lansing, and now calls Grand Rapids home. A foodie and lover of Michigan craft beer, she enjoys going on weekend adventures throughout Michigan, which can be followed on the Awesome Mitten’s social media accounts:  FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

An Awesome Mitten Christmas List: 8 Great Michigan-Made Gifts

Today, guest blogger Erin Berhnard from The Awesome Mitten tells us about some great Michigan-made gifts to keep in mind as you start to cross items off your shopping list this holiday season.

At The Awesome Mitten, we encourage our readers to support local shops and start-ups to help revitalize the Michigan economy; as a state, we have the capacity to rebuild ourselves just by buying nearby. Team Awesome learned about some amazing new products this year, so we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorites in hopes that Santa is reading.

Photo courtesy of Teamwork Bags

1) Teamwork Bags: Founded in 2006 and with a recently updated website and online ordering system, Teamwork has expanded its operations to give every purchaser statewide his or her own eco-friendly bag. The Nicks (Stockton and Stygstra, the company’s founders) started making bags out of old sails, military canvas remnants, and other recycled materials and found a market for everything they sewed through pop-up shops throughout West Michigan.

Must-have item: Waxed Canvas Classic Tote, $45.99

2) High Five Threads: After the opening of their second store in downtown Traverse City and their acquisition of Two Bays, High Five Threads seems to be having the best year ever. H5T achieves their mission of creating high-quality goods and supporting local entrepreneurship with every piece of apparel they create; everything is designed and printed in Michigan and made in the US.

Must-have item: Classic Sweatpant in Royal, $35

3) Mittenfest: December 2013 marks the eighth annual Mittenfest in Ypsilanti and, after a successful first S’Mittenfest this summer, the festival is sure to be a knockout. Originally created as a one-day event, Mittenfest is now a weeklong celebration of Michigan music and holiday cheer during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. The festival exists to benefit 826 Michigan, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills.

Must-have item: Tons of tickets, $10 each per night

4) Handmade Kalamazoo: Handmade Kalamazoo gives local artisans a network within which to create, market, and sell their goods. The marketplace thrives through grants such as the Kalamazoo Foundation’s ChangeMakers grant, which allows Handmade Kalamazoo to open pop-up shops throughout the downtown area.

Must-have item: Pleasant Peninsula t-shirt, $25

5) Shinola: Shinola opened their watch factory in downtown Detroit after vetting locations around the world. Why? Because Detroit has a great manufacturing legacy as well as the promise of a great future. A great statement to Michigan-made, Shinola is glad to have landed in such an up-and-coming city and makes the watches, bicycles, and leather goods to prove it.

Must-have item: Leather Card Wallet, $80

6) Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis: Shaggy’s is handcrafting both custom and mass-market ski lines for skiers in Michigan and beyond. Their brand-new factory in Boyne City is churning out skis for the upcoming season; purchase a limited edition pair and get a free season pass to Mount Bohemia! Keep watching the company for the launch of Shaggy’s longboards in spring 2014.

Must have item: a pair of Tubbys, $449 or $600 in the Mount Bohemia Colab package

7) Libations: How can we pick just one, with so many amazing craft brews, wines, and spirits being made in this great state? Among our favorites are:

-Brys Estate: This winery on Old Mission Peninsula has a Pinot Noir that is a consistent gold medal and best in class winner, directing the international wine market’s attention to Michigan reds.

-Ore Dock Brewing Company and Blackrocks Brewery: These two Marquette breweries recently got the go-ahead to start canning their beers for wide distribution, meaning we’ll no longer have to make the trek to the 906 to get great UP beer!

-Traverse City Whiskey Company: A smooth and creamy whiskey out of Traverse City is planting roots downtown, with plans to expand its distillery and open a tasting room in the recently dubbed “SoFo” neighborhood.

Must-have item: a little bit of everything!

8) The Awesome Mitten Crate: We’ve partnered with our friends at Mitten Crate to bring some of our favorite goodies to you in one convenient, easy-to-ship Awesome Mitten Crate!

We’ve included everything from Dave’s Sweet Tooth Toffee  to Noteware Candy Company’s Michigan-Shaped Chocolates, as well as a limited edition Awesome Mitten t-shirt and some surprises to boot.

Must-have item: a crate for me and for my favorite people, $65 each

This is obviously only the beginning of the list of amazing Michigan-made products available for the holidays.

What’s your favorite local product?

Erin Bernhard is the Managing Editor for The Awesome Mitten. She’s a northern Michigan twenty-something who loves good microbrews, great wine, summertime grillouts, and well-roasted coffee. She is also a dedicated yoga practitioner, social media and marketing enthusiast, reader and writer, local food junkie, and outdoors explorer–and she’s always adding to the list. She is located in Traverse City and loves helping to make her hometown shine. Check out her portfolio, follow her on Twitter, connect with her on Facebook.

8 Ways to Celebrate Fall in Michigan

Today, guest blogger Hayley Serr of The Awesome Mitten gives us 8 ways to celebrate the fall season in Michigan. 

Photo by Instagram user @laurenweber84

As the temperature begins its steady decline and we pack away our swimsuits and beach towels for the year, Michigan embarks on its glorious transition into autumn. Our great state is, without question, the best place to enjoy the splendor of fall. From the beautiful colors of changing leaves to the delicious crisp crunch of Michigan apples to the spectacle of the Thanksgiving day parade, there are so many things to enjoy this fall in the mitten. Here are eight items that should definitely be included on your autumn to-do list.

Take a trip to a cider mill. Cider mill trips are such a staple of the season that it almost seems like this is a given. However, this wouldn’t be a fall to-do list without a mention of cider mills. Many offer much more than cider and donuts, too. Pack a basket and a blanket, pick up some traditional treats, and enjoy a picnic in the crisp fall air. Or head to a cider mill with an apple orchard to pick some some fresh apples for munching. Since many locations also boast hayrides, corn mazes, and more, a trip to the cider mill is much more than just an excuse to eat donuts.

If you fancy something stronger than cider, pick up some seasonal craft beer. Or better yet, host a tasting party! Michigan’s craft beer industry is booming, so there is no shortage of delicious autumn brews. Pick up an Arbor Brewing Company Oktoberfest, a New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale, a Short’s Funkin’ Punkin, a Detroit Beer Company Oktoberfest, or any of the other great seasonal picks from your favorite Michigan breweries and invite some friends over to try them out. Offer assorted cheese options and pads of paper to take notes if you want to make it a more traditional tasting party, or just put out some munchies and enjoy some good conversation and great beer with friends. (For you non-beer-drinkers, remember that it’s harvest time for Michigan wine so you don’t have to miss out on the fun!)

Get into the Halloween spirit with some happy hauntings. With October 31st fast approaching, there are plenty of events to get you in the mood for the holiday. For those in the Southeast Michigan area (especially with little ones), the Zoo Boo is a perennial favorite. Throw on a costume and head to the Detroit Zoo for entertainment, games, and general trick-or-treating merriment amongst the animals. Also in the metro-Detroit area is the Greenfield Village Hallowe’en event; patrons will be surrounded by Greenfield Village spirits, treat stations, colorful characters, and thousands of jack-o-laterns for a 20th century Hallowe’en experience. (Watch out for the Headless Horseman!)

Or for those looking for a little more trick than treat, get psyched for Halloween with a zombie hunt. Taking the interactive experience to a whole new level, locations such as Blake Farms in Armada, Darksyde Acres in Jonesville, the Haunted Farm of Terror in Lenox Township, and TC Paintball in Lansing offer patrons the ability to test their preparation for the zombie apocalypse by taking down the undead. Gear up and take aim with these live action zombie hunts if you dare.

Visit a fall-themed festival. Whether you have a hankering for film, an appetite for chili, or are clamouring for good music, there is a Michigan festival for you. From the Mackinac Island Halloween Weekend celebration, to the Frankfort Film Festival, to the Blues & Brews Festival in Adrian, to the Peak2Peak Mountain Festival at Crystal Mountain there is an event for every taste this season.

Tailgate! Whether you’re a Wolverine or a Spartan, November 2nd is THE gameday for college football fans in the state of Michigan. East Lansing will host the inner state rivals for what is bound to be one of the greatest games of the year. If college sports aren’t your thing, autumn is still chock full of great sporting events. Head to Detroit to tailgate for a Lion’s game, hit a Wings game the Joe, or cheer the Tigers on to ALCS (and hopefully World Series) victory.

Head to Detroit for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. As the theme of this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is “Downtown Our Town,” the celebration will not only be of Thanksgiving, but also of the great city of Detroit and of Michigan. Be one of the hundreds of thousands of people who gather to celebrate together and watch one of the nation’s oldest Thanksgiving traditions. For those who’d rather enjoy the spectacle from the comfort of home, tune into the live broadcast on Thanksgiving morning at 9 a.m.

Take a fall foliage tour. Our great state is, without a doubt, one of the most picturesque, beautiful places in the nation. This is especially true when it comes to witnessing the changing of the seasons. Whether you’re heading to the coastline, cruising down I-75, walking the trail, or paddling down one of Michigan’s rivers, the spectacle of colors that autumn brings is best enjoyed from anywhere right here in the mitten.

What will you be doing to celebrate the season this year?

 

 

 Hayley SerrHayley Serr writes for The Awesome Mitten and works for Hour Detroit magazine. Born and raised in metro-Detroit, this Spartan alumna relishes any opportunity to explore and share all of the wonderful things there are to do in Michigan. Aside from exploring the mitten, Hayley loves spending time with her family, cooking, and curling up on the couch with a good book.