Behind-the-Scenes of Tulip Time in Holland

From May 7-14, more than 500,000 people from around the world will travel to Holland, Michigan to experience the 2016 Tulip Time Festival. The festival features Dutch dance performances, concerts, theatre, food, parades and more – all of which take a lot of time and dedication to produce by the staff and a team of more than 800 volunteers.

Gwen Auwerda, Executive Director of the festival, gives us a sneak peek at what goes into the making of Tulip Time. 

In Holland, Michigan, we’ve had a cool spring and the tulips love it! The town is being spruced up from a long winter and the Tulip Time Festival staff and interns are busy with the finishing touches on all the great events, entertainment and parades.

Here are just some of the many things that happen behind-the-scenes in Holland as we prepare for the festival.

Prepping Pigs-in-a-Blanket

500 dozen pigs-in-a-blanket – a traditional Dutch food – were made by a group of volunteers from area churches.  “Pigs” as we call them are a sausage roll covered with pastry dough and served to thousands of visitors at Dutch Marktplaats along with the largest selection of traditional Dutch food in the City of Holland.  This is quite a time honored tradition for the churches.

Marching Band Practice

All of the bands are practicing their marching skills for the Saturday GMB Muziekparade, the longest parade in Michigan at 2.4 miles. This year, May 14th is the day of the GMB Muziekparade. The parade will feature over 4,000 participants.

Dutch Dance Rehearsals

Dutch Dance is another signature event during the festival.  The dancers typically learn the dance in high school and can continue dancing as an “alumni dancer” after graduation.  This year, we have 800 dancers who wear clothing representing the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Practices begin in January and the dancers spend 30 hours over the next 4 months learning the dance. This event is a visitor favorite and free!

We couldn’t put together an internationally known flower festival without our beloved volunteers.  It takes over 800 volunteers over an 8 day period to help with trash pickup, ushering at the shows, set-up, deliver potted tulips to the venues around the city, assist with the Tulip Time run, and the three parades.  It is because of the dedication of these volunteers that our city can host over 500,000 guests to Join the Dance!  We hope to see you in beautiful Holland for the 87th Tulip Time Festival.

Gwen Auwerda is the Executive Director of the Tulip Time Festival in Holland.

Are you heading to Tulip Time this year? Share with us below!

Pure Michigan January 2016 Events Roundup

January is just around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited to start the New Year with everything happening throughout Pure Michigan in 2016. From winter festivals to snowshoeing (we hope!), the first month of the year is filled with events that everyone can enjoy. For a full list of events in Michigan, visit

Week of January 1-4

Shen Yun | Dance & Martial Arts Performance
January 1-3, Detroit
For 5,000 years, divine culture flourished in the land of China. Humanity’s treasure was nearly lost, but through breathtaking music and dance,Shen Yun is bringing back this glorious culture. Shen Yun brings the profound spirit of this lost civilization to life on stage with unrivaled artistic mastery. Every dance movement, every musical note, makes this a stunning visual and emotional experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Shoe Year Hike: Lantern Lit Ski and Snowshoe Event
January 2, Ludington
Start the New Year with a Shoe Year’s Hike at Ludington State Park. Cross country ski, snowshoe or hike the lantern lit trails to kick off your new year’s resolutions or just enjoy some outdoor fun with your family and friends. If you’re looking to participate, there are 40 pairs of snowshoes that will be lent out first-come, first-serve. Make sure you dress warmly in layers when attending! Along the trail, a campfire will be available where visitors can warm themselves and enjoy a hot beverage. The park will be hosting additional lantern lit ski and snowshoe events on January 9, 23, and February 6. 


21st Annual Downtown Bridal Show
January 3, Traverse City
Did you just get engaged? Attend this bridal show to help plan your wedding! Over 35 vendors will come together to showcase all things wedding at the City Opera House in Downtown Traverse City. A wedding fashion show will take place and admission to the event is free!

Week of January 4-11

Moscow Festival Ballet: Romeo & Juliet and The Sleeping Beauty
January 8, East Lansing
This renowned company from Moscow brings two of the most romantic Russian ballets to the stage. Romeo and Juliet is Shakespeare’s classic tale of young star-crossed lovers, featuring the music of Tchaikovsky and the choreography of Petipa. The evening also includes selections from another timeless classic, the fairytale The Sleeping Beauty, also set to music by Tchaikovsky. Both performances feature exquisite costumes and lush scenery in the grand ballet style. Founded by legendary dancer Sergei Radchenko, this acclaimed company features leading dancers from across Russia.

Plymouth Ice FestivalPLymouth ice fest
January 8-10
Downtown Plymouth is hosting the 34th annual Ice Festival! The Plymouth Ice Festival has a long-standing history of being the largest, free ice festival in Michigan and remains dedicated to the art of ice carving.

Winter Walking Tour with The Kalamazoo House
January 9
In partnership with The Kalamazoo House, the historic bed and breakfast built in 1878, guests can enjoy an overnight stay, a walking tour of three breweries and breakfast all in one stop. You can visit Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, Gonzo’s Bigg Dogg Brewing Co. and Tibbs Brewing Co. where you can receive either a full pour or a series of samples at each stop. You can also learn more about Kalamazoo’s growing craft beer industry and its role in Michigan’s rise as one of the top beer destinations in the world.

22nd Annual Downtown Chili Cook-Off
January 9, Traverse City
The annual Downtown Chili Cook-Off in Traverse City brings together some of the area’s finest restaurants and their creative chili recipes for a spicy showdown. The restaurants will compete in a variety of categories including 1, 2 and 3 Alarm, White, Seafood, No Bean, Ethnic, and more. It should be a delicious time!

Winter Festival and Brunch
January 10, Hastings
Bring the family out to Pierce Cedar Creek Institute to enjoy the winter landscape! A number of winter-themed activities are scheduled throughout the day. Snowshoe rental, family-friendly crafts, and a warm fire will be available in the Visitor Center. Trails and the sledding hill will be open from dawn to dusk. The brunch program will feature “Stormy the Magician” performing illusions for the whole family. End the day fulfilling a New Year’s resolution by getting outside and enjoying a snowshoe hike and taking in the winter sights and sounds.

Week of January 11-18

Wine About Winter
January 15, Grand Haven
What better place to “wine” away those winter blues than at the annual Wine About Winter? Each January, a collection of businesses in Grand Haven’s Centertown and Downtown districts invite the public to sample wines and check out art from local artists. As guests sip on samples of Shiraz and Chardonnay, area artists offer talks about their works, all of which are displayed at the various venues as part of Wine About Winter. Tasting packages will be available for purchase in the fall 2015 at various Main Street Merchant locations. 


Fort Custer Recreation Area: Intro to Mushing
January 16, Augusta
Are you interested in learning about dog sledding? Members of the Southwest Michigan Husky Club are providing introductory classes that will go over several different outdoor activities owners can enjoy with their dogs including: Mushing, Skijoring, Bikejoring, and tandem snowshoeing with dogs.

Beer and Bluegrass | Concert
January 16, Kalamazoo
Kalamazoo State Theatre is teaming up with Short’s Brewing Company out of Bellaire, Michigan, to bring you a bluegrass event like no other! Mark your calendars and join them for “Beer and Bluegrass” at Kalamazoo State Theatre! They will be bringing you four musical performances from Grammy award winning Bluegrass artists such as the Del McCoury Band, Jeff Austin Band, Don Julin and the Billy Strings Trio. Short’s Brewing Company will be onsite for a total tap takeover, featuring their top seasonal brews.

Kalkaska Winterfest
January 16-17
Kalkaska Winterfest has been a Michigan classic since 1965. It is the largest sprint sled dog race in the northern lower 48 states. The race will be a qualifying race for the IFSS world championships in 2017. There will be sled dog racing from 10, 6, 4, 3 and 2 dog teams, along with skijoring. Other activities include IWPA dog weight pull, craft show, silent auction and food. Make sure to check it out!

North American International Auto Show
January 16-24, Detroit
With an anticipated 800,000 visitors from around the world, the North American International Auto Show in Detroit continues to be among the most prestigious auto shows in the world. See highlights from last year’s show here.

Week of January 18- 25

Saline Winterfest 2016
January 22-23
You have to come to Winterfest 2016! Why? Because everything about this exciting event will be different this year. They’ll have indoor and outdoor activities fun for the whole family, from kids to grandparents, from mild to wild! More details will be released as the event nears. 

Noquemanon Ski Marathon
January 22-24, Marquette
The Noquemanon Ski Marathon, locally referred to as “The Noque”, is a point-to-point cross-country ski race held in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan during the last weekend of January. Starting from Ishpeming and ending in Marquette, the race showcases the scenery and terrain characteristic of Upper Michigan. The variety of events include Classic Freestyle, Team Relay, Junior Noque, Adaptive Snowshoe, Snow bike, Skijor Long and Short Distances.

203rd Anniversary Commemoration of the Battles of the River Raisin
January 23, Monroe
Join the many participants from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Canada as we remember the Battle of the River Raisin and Massacre that took place 203 years ago – January 22 & 23, 1813. The 203rd Anniversary Commemoration of the Battles of the River Raisin will take place on Saturday January 23, 2016. There will be a tactical demonstration battleground, and commemoration ceremonies.

Bigfoot Snowshoe Racebigfoot snowrace
January 23, Traverse City
Come join the Bigfoot Snowshoe Race! The course is a super hilly off trail run with plenty of logs to jump and branches to duck. If there’s no snow, bring your trail shoes, the race goes on no matter what the conditions. Bigfoot is the Midwest qualifier for the National Championship Snowshoe race.

Winter Delights: A Festival of Wine, Food, and Music
January 30, Portage
Winter Delights will be an evening of wine tasting with the best regional wineries, delicious food, and live music by the LMC Jazz Combo. Admission includes 10 wine tastings, $10 in food samplings, commemorative festival glass, and entertainment. Designated driver tickets include festival glass, two non-alcoholic drinks, $10 in food samplings, and entertainment.

Week of January 25-31

Thrill On the Hill
January 29-30, Buchanan
Bring your family and come tubing on an 800-foot long hill. The City of Buchanan closes its main thoroughfare and invites you to use their tubes to fly down Front Street’s hill! The road is closed for tubing only and happens just once a year. There will be tubing fun, games, contests, great food and a winter-land playground for the youngsters. Frosty and Rudolph will show up to frolic with kids and grownup kids alike. It is sure to be a family-friendly time!

Pure Ludington BRRRewFestbrewfest
January 30
Back by popular demand, the second annual Pure Ludington BRRRewFest is bigger and better, with 30-plus brewers from throughout Michigan showcasing their best for an afternoon of brews, live music and more at Ludington’s new community garden. Tickets include a 5oz. commemorative sampling glass plus six drinks tokens for sampling.

January 30, Muskegon
The Greater Muskegon Jaycees “Snowfest” is happening in downtown Muskegon. Enjoy many events such as the Battle of the Bowls, Kidsfest, Snow Volleyball, Cornhole, Broomball and much more! 

Winter Snow Party
January 30, Portage
The Winter Snow Party is a great opportunity to enjoy time with your family and friends, all while embracing the white wonders of Michigan outdoors. There will be many activities to enjoy such as sledding and a snowman building contest! Build, decorate and bring your own cardboard sled and build and dress up the biggest and fanciest snowman. Prizes will be awarded for best in show for both contests as well as the fastest cardboard sled! When you need a warm respite from the activities enjoy a bonfire with hot chocolate and coffee available for purchase. 

What January events are you looking forward to most? 

10 Michigan Destinations to Visit This Veterans Day

This Nov. 11, veterans, families and friends will come together in Michigan, and across the nation, to honor those who served and remember those lost their lives in ceremonies as part of Veterans Day.

In anticipation of this annual day of remembrance, we put together a list of 10 veterans’ monuments and events in Michigan where ceremonies will take place

1. Grand Traverse Area Veterans Memorial – Traverse City

Located at Eleventh Street and Elmwood Avenue in Traverse City, the Grand Traverse Area Veterans Memorial was dedicated Sept. 18, 2011. It’s overseen by the Grand Traverse Area Veteran Coalition. Additional events in Traverse City include markets of those killed in action displayed at the Open Space from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with names being read at noon.

Photo Courtesy of the Grand Traverse Area Veterans Memorial

Photo Courtesy of the Grand Traverse Area Veterans Memorial

2. Fort Custer National Cemetery – Augusta

One of two national shrines in Michigan, the Fort Custer National Cemetery is located on Dickman Road in Augusta. Originally Camp Custer, it was named after Michigan native Gen. George Armstrong Custer in 1917 for soldiers in World War I. It was designated as a national cemetery in 1981. For more information, call (269) 731-4164.

3. Veterans Memorial Park – Grand Rapids

Dedicated in 1926, the park includes several pillars that were erected in honor of those who served in multiple conflicts. The memorial is located at 101 E. Fulton in Grand Rapids. For more information, contact Grand Rapids City Hall at (616) 456-3000.

4. Plainwell Veterans Memorial

Located in Sherwood Park in Plainwell, the memorial was dedicated on Veterans Day in 2009. This year’s ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to Nov. 16. For more information, call Plainwell City Hall at (269) 685-6821.

5. Veterans Memorial Park – Muskegon

Located on the M. Causeway of M-120 in Muskegon, Veteran’s Memorial Park is located on the Muskegon River. The memorial includes a walkway for visitors to observe memorials and plaques in honor of area veterans. For more information, contact Muskegon City Hall at (231) 724-6724.

6. Brighton Veterans Memorial

Including a plaque honoring veterans that was installed in Brighton in the 1950s, the memorial has been redesigned in recent years. It is located on Main Street in Brighton. For more information, go to

Photo Courtesy of the Brighton Veterans Memorial

Photo Courtesy of the Brighton Veterans Memorial

7. Great Lakes National Cemetery – Holly

Veterans, families and the general public are invited to attend a Veterans Day ceremony at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly. The cemetery is home to one of one of two national shrines in Michigan. The ceremony starts at 11 a.m. The cemetery is located at 4200 Belford Road in Holly.

8. Escanaba Park – Grand Haven

Owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and leased to Grand Haven, the park is home to a memorial for the U.S. Coast Guard. The park was originally known as Kelly Park, but was renamed in in 1949 to Escanaba Memorial Park in commemoration of the loss of the USCGC Escanaba and 101 men when the ship sank in 1943.

9. Korean Memorial and Vietnam Memorial at Island Park – Mt. Pleasant

Mt. Pleasant, like many other communities, is home to many veterans. Of particular note is the Vietnam Memorial at Island Park, which was the first in the state to honor those who fought in Vietnam. These two memorials are a great way to honor veterans when visiting Mid-Michigan.

10. Withington Park – Jackson

Photo Courtesy of Mart Beth Kline-Stutzman

Photo Courtesy of Mart Beth Kline-Stutzman

Featuring the sculpture Defense of the Flag, Withington Park in Jackson is named after Gen. William H. Withington. The sculpture honors the 3,282 men of the Michigan Volunteer Infantry regiments who he commanded. The sculpture is also known as Jackson County Soldiers or Sailors Monument.

Many other Michigan communities pay tribute to our nation’s veterans and fallen soldiers. Consider a visit to the veteran’s park in Charlevoix, veterans statue in Port Huron, unknown soldier sculpture in Alpena, Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ypsilanti or one of the numerous monuments on the State Capitol lawn in Lansing.

Which of these destinations will you visit this Veterans Day?