5 Ways to Enjoy Cocktail Week Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids launched Cocktail Week GR last year – and the response was so great, the city is gearing up for a second go-round, November 9-20, 2016.

Sip local! Bebidas Estilo GR!

Logo for Grand Rapids Cocktail Week

Cocktail Week Grand Rapids was created to celebrate Michigan-made spirits and the art of the craft cocktail. New distilleries are popping up all over Grand Rapids and throughout the state, and Cocktail Week GR is a great opportunity to taste their handiwork in delicious drinks created by West Michigan’s best mixologists.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of this spirited event.

1. Pair and Share. Participating bars and restaurants are offering a special food-drink pairing deal – get two Michigan cocktails and a shared-plate appetizer for $25 or less. Chefs and mixologists have collaborated to create pairings that perfectly complement each other, adding balance and depth to your gustatory experience. Last year, a crowd pleaser was, The Drapple – made with Beer Barrel Bourbon from New Holland Brewing – which was paired with Duck Confit Leg at Reserve Wine & Food.

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

2. Go the Extra Glass. Enjoy enticing extras to enhance Cocktail Week GR including local events. Check cocktailweekgr.com for this year’s schedule.

3. Get in the Mix. Learn how to create your own delicious drinks at a Downtown Market cooking class. “Thanksgiving Cocktails and Desserts: Beyond the Pie” takes over the Teaching Kitchen on Wednesday, November 16.

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

4. Take a Tour. Long Road Distillers, established in 2015 and already the winner of multiple international awards, offers tours of its facility on November 11, 12, 18 and 19. You’ll learn how Long Road uses local grains and fruits to craft vodka, whisky, rum and more.

5. Think Global. Attend the International Wine, Beer & Food Festival (November 17-19) to sample spirits – plus wines, beers and ciders – from around the world. More than 1,500 beverages will be featured, along with gourmet foods, workshops, seminars and more. It’s billed as “Michigan’s premier tasting event,” so bring your appetite!

“Flowers in the Window” is a cocktail made especially for Cocktail Week GR by Zac Williams from Six.One.Six.

What is your favorite place to enjoy a cocktail in Grand Rapids? Let us know in the comments below!

An Inside Look at Terror on Tillson: A Pure Michigan Halloween Experience

Year after year, visitors flock to a small neighborhood in Romeo, MI to experience Terror on Tillson, one of Michigan’s largest neighborhood funded Halloween attractions!  Today, guest blogger Vicki Lee, a 35-year resident of Tillson Street shares a behind the scenes look at what goes into creating this undeniably unique All Hallow’s Eve experience. 

It’s that time of the year again. A quaint street in the middle of the Historic Village of Romeo, Michigan, transforms from a street lined with majestic maple trees and Historic homes, dating back to the late 1800’s, into a haunted habitat. Once a typical Halloween, with a few scarecrows and some pumpkins and 350 trick-or-treaters, has now evolved into a Halloween Extravaganza!

Photo Courtesy of KDMac Photography

Photo Courtesy of KDMac Photography

Trick-or-treat numbers have risen to about 2,000. Tens of thousands of visitors wander down the street during the last two weeks of October just to get a sight of all the hard work these neighbors put in to make this a memorable experience. Terror on Tillson Street provides a safe, family oriented Halloween experience at zero cost to visitors. The elaborate displays will be mostly completed the weekend of October 24th, although everyone decorates right up until Halloween. Trick or treating is only on October 31st from 6-8pm, but visitors are welcome to stop by and take a gander at the devilish displays beforehand.

Tillson Street is a little more than two blocks long. Most people decorate in some form or another, but it is not a requirement when you move on the street (although many visitors think it is). Most of the time there are about 32 house that do some type of display. This is a neighborhood that plays together, works together and watches out for each other…that’s how it all works. Some of my favorite memories from Halloween on Tillson Street are the times that the neighbors spend time together like one big family. We wind down at the end of the evening and chat about the friendly visitors who strolled through and highlights from the night’s events.

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Throughout each weekend in October, you will see many neighbors walking from house to house, as help is always needed for some props that are too hard to put up yourself. It is an ongoing preparation for the big finale on Halloween. The neighbors work at their own speed. As most Michiganders know, unpredictable weather always has a way of interfering with our set ups! Most of us have “real” jobs, so you hope you have good weather on the weekends to accomplish everything that needs to happen.  Some tweaking is always going on right up to the time Trick-or-treaters start to arrive.

We always include family and friends in the festivities, which they all look forward to each year. Their help is always much appreciated! At my house, we now have the 4th generation of helpers. My mom, who is 81, pretty much does the supervision role these days, but in a way she started this with me, I was born on Halloween and she always puts a little more effort in the decorations for my sake.

Photo courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

I continued this with my own children and it has just grown from there. As younger families moved on the street, the bigger our Halloween has become. The creativity of this neighborhood is amazing with the majority of decorations being handmade. Many residents work on their decorations throughout the year, hoping to finish before the next Halloween.

Everything is done by the residents of the street, their timeless hours and their enjoyment to do something very special for a free night out for the families is how this event has become what it is. We all hope everyone enjoys their visit to this one-of-a-kind neighborhood.

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

As my sons grew older and still wanted to be involved with the festivities, they created what is known as the “Bulldog Security” after Romeo High School’s mascot. Bulldog Security is a group of athletes from the high school that patrols the streets on Halloween night keeping an eye for trouble makers (not many to speak of) and lost children (maybe I should say lost parents). At one point these were just young teens wanting to be involved, now we have a few generations of athletes that help us out. Some of these young people come home from college just to be involved! The Village of Romeo has allowed Tillson Street to be blocked off on Halloween night for safety purposes during the 2 hour trick-or-treating time.

This year, Tillson Street has 3 special events that are included in our Halloween. One is the “Buzz Lee Memorial Scholarship Fund.” This was a fund that was started by my late husband with a golf outing to provide a vocational scholarship. When Buzz passed away from a brain tumor, my family and I decided to honor him in this wonderful scholarship that now provides not only a vocational scholarship, but also a pay-to-play scholarship and donations to the Wounded Warrior Project (Buzz was a Vietnam Veteran). We sell a limited edition “TILLSON STREET” Halloween shirt, hot cocoa and cider, can koozies and our very own Tillson Street Cookbook, put together by all the neighbors and friends. ALL proceeds go directly to the Scholarship Fund.

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

We also provide a special event for KKC, “Kids Kicking Cancer.” This will be our 5th year giving kids an afternoon of no worries and a huge amount of fun. We close the street for a couple of hours and the kids and their families come down the street to trick-or-treat. I’m really not sure who has more fun, my neighbors or the kids! This is an event that makes it all worth the hard we put in to the decorations! It has at times been a very emotional day for the neighborhood, but so, so rewarding!

Photo by Heather Monaghan

Photo Courtesy of Heather Monaghan

If you’re planning to visit Tillson Street on Halloween this year, use these tips and information to make the most of your experience: 

-It’s best to walk and see everything, there will be bumper to bumper traffic, so it is very hard to see the displays in your vehicle.

-You never  have to wait in any line, although a line does seem to form during the evening, but that is not planned by anyone!

-Expect the walk to take you at least an hour to get through. There is parking on the street, but this usually hard to find.

-There are parking lots all around Tillson Street for a small donation, but are by no means associated with Tillson Street.

-Tillson Street is free of charge. The only things you might want to purchase are in the tent at 171 Tillson Street with all proceeds going to the scholarship fund.

Have you ever been to Halloween on Tillson Street? What did you think? 

Fall Into These Michigan Events in November

November is fast approaching! Not only will fall colors be in full bloom, but it’s also the holiday season with a ton of tree lighting, cookie decorating and Santa-themed events to partake in. 

Below is a roundup of November events to help you plan the upcoming month. Visit our events page to see everything going on all month long.

November 1-6

Murder Mystery Eventmurder mystery event
November 4-6, Montague

Once a month, from November through May, Amanda’s Bequest B&B offers a Murder Mystery Weekend. Participants enjoy an early check-in (we suggest a 2 day stay to enjoy the area outside of the mystery activities, but a day works) dinner and a MURDER. You will be emailed your character and role prior to arrival. Mystery activities last from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday, with food courses as acts. The B&B will need a minimum occupancy of four to make it a fun night!

November’s theme will be “An Evening of Murder, A Feast to Die For!”. A fabulous dinner party full of flirty ladies and bad boys with agendas has gone awry. Egads! The hostess did a face plant in her food…Poison? You won’t want to miss this fun night!

Treetops Trifecta
November 4-6, Gaylord

Have a weekend of remarkable trail running! The Treetops Trifecta is a micro-stage race with 5K, Hill Climb and Half Marathon events over two days beginning on Saturday morning with a 5K on newly crafted single track at the resort’s main campus. This is followed by a 1K Hill Climb on the ski hill on Saturday afternoon. A special pasta dinner is offered to participants and guests on Saturday night. The event concludes with a half marathon staged at the North Property with an ultra-scenic course that includes a single track through the Headwaters Conservancy land and historic Project Nature, a landscape that offers stunning views of the Sturgeon River Valley.

Kalamazoo Russian FestivalKalamazoo Russian Festival
November 5, Kalamazoo

The 21st Annual Kalamazoo Russian Festival will be held at the Fetzer Center on the campus of Western Michigan University. The Russian Festival occurs to promote an understanding and appreciation of Russian culture in all its forms. Everyone is welcome to attend and enjoy educational speakers, Russian foods, musical performances, dancers, children’s programming, vendors and silent auction. In addition, potluck programs are held the 2nd Monday of each month at the Kalamazoo Public Library at 6 p.m. from September – May.

Hops & Corks Festival
November 5, Dimondale

Head to the Hops & Corks Festival for scrumptious food and live music from Shelby and Jake. There will also be samples of over 100 craft beers from local, national and international craft breweries. New this year, wine from several wineries will be available to taste. This is a 21 and over event.

Tickets include three hours of sampling (15 sampling tickets) and a souvenir glass. The Marines & Toys for Tots will be onsite collecting your unwrapped toys.

54th Annual Fall Coin Show54th Annual Fall Coin Show
November 6, Livonia

The Northwest Detroit Coin Club (NWDCC) is hosting its 54th Annual Fall Coin Show on Sunday, Nov. 6. Both parking and admission is free! Anyone interested the hobby is welcome to attend.

Their club motto is “Knowledge Thru Collecting” and membership is open to everyone.

November 7-13

Festival of Trees
November 9, Big Rapids

The Festival of Trees is an annual event in which community members donate trees, wreaths and other items decorated in the finest of holiday flare. The trees and other items are displayed for several days prior to the auction so you determine your favorite for the night of the auction! The event will be held at Chemical Bank in downtown Big Rapids.

Through Surf & Storm Shipwrecks of the Sunset Coast
November 10, Grand Haven

Cate Reed from the Tri-Cities Historical Museum presents shipwreck stories that illustrate different time periods and circumstances. A Spring Lake mystery, the Ironsides, two Muskegon wrecks and a 1980 loss will be discussed along with the latest Michigan Shipwreck Research Association discoveries – including the John V. Moran, found in 2015. This program is the second in a three-part series in partnership with the Tri-Cities Historical Museum and The Bookman.

Ribbons and Bows Arts and Crafts ShowRibbons and Bows Arts and Crafts Show
November 12, Grand Rapids

Save the date! It’s almost that time of year once again for holiday festivities and gift giving. Thinking about those special people on your shopping list? From mittens and quilts to jewelry and pottery and everything in between, the show is a collection of unique artistry and talent. Save yourself shopping time by joining the Ribbons and Bows Holiday Arts and Crafts Show being held at Aquinas College, Wege Center.

Hatchery Tours
November 13, Mattawan

Come learn how Wolf Lake raises millions of fish each year to stock in lakes and streams all around Michigan! Tours are at noon and 2 p.m. and last approximately 30 minutes, beginning inside the Visitor Center. They are mostly indoors and wheelchair accessible. Tours are free of charge.

Lansing Model Train Show and SaleLansing Model Train Show and Sale
November 13, East Lansing

All aboard Michigan’s largest model train show with over 500 tables of new models, toy trains, artwork, collectibles, DVDs, books, railroad artifacts and much more. See big and small trains running over nine different model railroad layouts. Learn from the experts on how to build a model railroad empire of your dreams. Held at the Michigan State University (MSU) Pavilion, it’s a train load of fun for everyone!

November 14-20

Ladies’ Night OutLadies night out
November 15, Harbor Springs

While the boys are away, the ladies will play! With the hunters heading into the woods, Harbor Springs invites you downtown for a night of shopping and fun! More than 25 businesses will be open so you can find it all – from jewelry, art and hand-blown glass, to boutique clothing and skiwear, to home decor, kitchenware, books, maps, cookies, toys and more! Dinner specials will be offered at local restaurants. Get the girls together for a fun-filled night of laughs, discounts, refreshments and fun!

Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival
November 17-19, Grand Rapids

Come to a celebration of culinary crafts! The Midwest’s largest wine, beer and food festival comes together in November with over 1,600 wines, beers, ciders and spirits from around the world, along with creations from the area’s finest restaurants. The event attracts thousands of food and wine enthusiasts and offers a vast array of extraordinary tastings, cooking demonstrations, wine and beer seminars, mixology, gourmet foods, specialty items and accessories.

22nd Annual Luminary Festival
November 18, St. Joseph

Head to the 22nd Annual Luminary Festival! Stroll through the beautiful candlelit streets starting at dusk until 9 p.m. as 1,000 luminaries light your way as you shop in downtown St. Joseph. Shops will be open late to entice you with wonderful gift ideas and festive holiday decor – merchants will provide refreshments, great sales, amazing product offerings and more! Eat, drink and be merry! While here, enjoy from a wide selection of area restaurants and eateries.

Michigan History Museum – Silver Bells in the City
November 18, Lansing

The Michigan History Museum offers special evening hours and free admission as part of the 32nd annual Silver Bells in the City holiday season kickoff in downtown Lansing. Bring the whole family to tour the museum galleries together. Be sure to tour the special exhibit, Minds of Modernism.

The evening includes refreshments, musical entertainment, make-and-take hand-warmers and Victorian ornaments and a “Scents of the Season” spice table where you can identify spices and learn their history.

The Library of Michigan, located in the west wing of the building, invites you to stop by to meet artist Randy Asplund and see him at work. Randy is known internationally for his research and work making authentic-style medieval illuminated manuscripts, using period-correct pigments and handmade tools.

St. Nicholas: From Saint to SantaSt. Nicholas. From Saint to Santa
November 19-20, Frankenmuth

The young and young at heart will enjoy recalling the journey of how St. Nicholas became Santa Claus as told by himself! Involving audience participation, this half-hour performance is a delightful way to enter the CHRISTmas season and create memories your young ones will be sure to cherish for a lifetime. Be sure to shop around Bronner’s afterwards for all your holiday needs.

November 21-30

Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting
November 25, Charlevoix

Children of all ages are invited to stop in and make a fun craft to take home at Charlevoix Circle of Arts from 3 to 5 p.m. Activities will include holiday cookie decorating and a fun pinecone ornament craft. Santa’s Workshop is brought to you by the Charlevoix Circle of Arts and Chemical Bank.

Fall Exploration DaysFall Exploration Days
November 25-27, Midland

Enjoy your break from school while exploring the wonders of nature in Michigan! This indoor program includes a variety of self-guided, hands-on exploration stations. Experiments, fun facts, crafts and scavenger hunts are just a few of the types of activities you’ll find. Each day of the seasonal session is the same, but feel free to come back again and again!

Chesaning Christmas Candlewalk
November 25-26, Chesaning

Stroll the luminary-lit streets of this cozy Christmas village, enjoying light magic, live music, holiday shopping and free horse-drawn carriage rides. Let the little ones have some holiday fun with events just for them at the Market Street Church of the Nazarene, where they’ll enjoy everything from face-painting to cookie decorating. Step inside of the Peet Community Center to warm your toes and see a dazzling display of decorated trees and wreathes at the Festival of Trees; each item on display is available to win in a raffle drawing! Don’t forget to make a stop at Santa’s Village at North Pole USA, where the Saginaw County Fairgrounds are transformed into a magical Christmas wonderland.

Treetops Light SpectacularTreetops Resort
November 25-26, Gaylord

This annual event will include family fun for all ages with a tree lighting, wagon rides, Elf on Stilts, kid’s crafts, candy cane snowmen decorating, photos with Santa and a bonfire. All this fun happens at the Top of the Hill and is free to the public, but it’s a great time to round up some donations for Toys-for-Tots, so guests are welcome to bring a new and unwrapped toy.

64th Kalamazoo Antique Toy Show
November 26, Kalamazoo

Visit the Antique Toy Show for a sale of antique, vintage and collectible toys such as pedal cars, toy tractors, wind-up & battery-operated toys, Disney, sci-fi toys, Tonka trucks, Japanese pressed tin robots and cars, Hot Wheels, action figures and dolls, movie and TV memorabilia and much more.

Pasta and Pinot NovemberPasta and Pinot November
November 26, Montague

Fresh pasta and wine… you can’t argue with that combination as it has stood the test of time and will always be a fantastic way to spend an evening. This class is an adult-only cooking class where you enjoy a glass of complimentary wine as you learn how to hand roll pasta, create ravioli, gnocchi, tortellini, linguini and more. One time make egg noodles and ravioli; the next Spatzle and gnocchi, another time it’ll be fettuccini and tortellini. This is the perfect class for a group of friends. We will also be making some traditional sauces.

Stafford’s Downtown Petoskey Holiday Parade
November 26, Petoskey

Holiday spirit will be coming your way during the 2016 Stafford’s Downtown Petoskey Holiday Parade. The parade will wind through the downtown streets and end at the Perry Hotel, where children will have those all-important conversations with Santa.

Did we miss your favorite November event? Let us know what it is in the comments!