How A Cocktail Napkin Crafted Michigan’s Largest International Beer Sampling Event

The World Expo of Beer in Frankenmuth is May 16 – 17, 2014. Today, guest blogger Blair Giesken and Go Great Lakes Bay tell us how a simple cocktail napkin helped set Michigan’s largest international beer sampling event into motion. 

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 2.39.12 PMThey say some of the best ideas start on cocktail napkins.  J.K. Rowling’s famous Harry Potter book series started on one. So did the idea for the flight route that later became the basis of Southwest Airlines. And the World Expo of Beer in Frankenmuth is no different.

This 2-day beer-centric festival of international proportion all began back in 1996 with one small sketch on a Bavarian Inn Roof Garten cocktail napkin and one big idea – to celebrate the beauty of spring in Frankenmuth.“In Germany, new seasonal beers are brewed and celebrated during their annual Maifests (Spring celebrations),” said Annie Rummel, who originated the World Expo of Beer and now serves as CEO of the Great Lakes Bay Regional CVB.  “We thought, why not honor the German Spring tradition with our own beer tasting event?”

And honor it they did. With the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado already highlighting domestic beer products and the strong relationship Frankenmuth already had with its sister city of Guzenhausen, Germany, the idea for this new beer-tasting event naturally evolved beyond local and domestic brews to embrace beers from around the globe.

As if coordinating an international beer festival for the first time wasn’t a tall enough order, Rummel and her talented team (along with countless community supporters) took the World Expo of Beer from a concept on a cocktail napkin to a full-blown festival in less than 5 weeks!

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 2.45.52 PMHoping to see a turnout near 5,000 people, the crew behind the first-ever World Expo of Beer could do nothing but smile and pull the tap that year as over 15,000 thirsty beer lovers streamed into the tents at Frankenmuth’s Heritage Park, commemorative tasting mugs in hand.

Each year, the Frankenmuth Jaycees and the entire community continue to welcome thousands to shout and sing “Ein Prosit” (German for “A toast to you”) and raise a stein in celebration of beers from around the world.  The festival has even expanded to tap into the hearts and minds of true beer connoisseurs everywhere, with great additions like the Fine Food & Craft Brew Pairing Event and Beer 101 “Basics of Beer” Course.

This year, the World Expo of Beer will tap countless kegs for the annual celebration – May 16th and 17th – bringing nearly 300 brews from the furthest corners of the earth (and right from our own backyards!) – to the tasting mugs of thousands.  Feeling thirsty already?  You can pre-purchase an admission package to this year’s festival with beer tickets included so you can skip the long lines!

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 2.47.11 PMLearn more about the World Expo of Beer, check out other things to do while you’re in the Great Lakes Bay Region, follow the World Expo of Beer and Go Great Lakes Bay on Facebook for updates on the free World Expo of Beer shuttle buses, and be sure to book your overnight stay nearby to cap off a day of tasting with a great night’s rest.  You’re going to need it!

Location: Frankenmuth Heritage Park – 601 Weiss Street, Frankenmuth, MI 48734 (just 500 feet from the Bavarian Inn Lodge)

Dates & Times: Friday, May 16th from 5-10 pm and Saturday, May 17th from 3-10 pm

Admission: $10 (includes a free commemorative beer sampling mug); Proceeds will be donated to charitable causes; 21+ only; Admission packages available here.

What unique brew are you most looking forward to sampling at this year’s event? 

Blair Giesken was born and raised in the Great Lakes Bay Region and now resides in Grand Rapids.

Six Places to Catch a Drive-In Movie in Michigan

With summertime blockbuster films getting ready to hit the big screens in the coming months, a trip to the movies is a perfect way to spend an evening with the family. Some of us may remember the summer nights when a typical pastime involved  pulling up to the local drive-in theater and curling up in the driver’s seat to enjoy a silver screen show. Relive those memories and make some new ones by visiting a local drive-in movie theater near you.

Here are six places you can go to catch a drive-in movie in Pure Michigan.

Capri Drive-In  - Coldwater, MI
capridriveinListed as one of the “10 Best Drive-In’s in America” by USA Today back in 2001, the Capri is a 1,000 car, twin-screen drive-in open seven nights a week from early spring until late October.

The Capri Drive-In opens for the season this Friday, April 4th with Captain America and Frozen playing on the big screen.  The box office opens at 7:30. Movies start at dusk. Admission is $8.00 for adults, age 5 thru 11 is $4.00 and kids under 5 are free.

Danny Boy’s Drive-In Movie Theater  - Ionia, MI
Danny Boy’s Drive-In Movie Theater in Ionia is a unique experience in a number of ways. Instead of a traditional screen, Danny Boy’s uses a high-tech inflatable water-resistant version that is 70 feet wide and 35 feet high.

Danny Boy’s also offers  a “snack permit”  for those who choose to bring their own movie treats. At a cost of $5 per carload, the permit allows those in the vehicle to bring all the goodies they want. Also, enjoy twice the entertainment with pre-movie activities that vary from week to week including a bounce house, petting zoo, and celebrity appearances. Ticket prices for those age 15 and over will be $7. Those under age 15 will pay $5, and kids age 3 and under are free.

Entrance_2720Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theater - Honor, MI
The Cherry Bowl Drive-In has provided fine films, food and family entertainment since 1954. Complete with playground, volleyball net, vintage movie memorabilia, 50′s style putt putt golf,  home run derby and popcorn popped fresh in their original 1953 popcorn popper, a trip to the Cherry Bowl is like stepping back in time to simpler summer nights.

Getty 4 Drive-In Theater - Muskegon, MI
At the Getty-4, tune in your movie on your car radio to enjoy your movie in stereo sound, or use the nostalgic drive-in speakers! The box office gates open nightly at 7:45, and the first features hit the screen around dusk or 9:00. The drive-in has a large playground and arcade room for all the kids, and a self-serve concession that has all your movie favorites.

Hi-Way Drive-In Theater - Carsonville, MI
hi.way.drive.in (1)Opened in 1947, Hi-Way Drive-In is Michigan’s oldest remaining drive-in movie theater. The box office opens at 7:30 and the movies start at dusk. Sound is available through you FM car radio. Prices are $7.00 for adults (12 and over), $2.00 for kids (4-11), and kids 3 and under are free. If you’re near Carsonville on the way to or from your next Michigan camping trip, be sure to pull in and make the Hi-Way Drive-In your rest stop –  Campers are always welcome!

Ford Drive-In - Dearborn, MI
The Ford Drive-In located in Dearborn, MI is America’s largest drive-in-theater with 9 screens and parking for 2,500 cars that is open for viewing year round.  In-car heaters are now available for the winter months. Gates open at 8 pm during the summer.

Have you been to a Drive-in movie theater in Michigan? What did you see? 

Four Fun Ways to Celebrate Michigan Wine Month

Michigan-Wine-sunsetDid you know that April is Michigan Wine Month? With more than 100 wineries nestled among 15,000 acres of scenic vineyards, Michigan truly is wine country. Whether you’re the occasional wine drinker or a professional connoisseur, there are numerous opportunities to get out and experience Michigan’s wineries this spring.

So, pop open that 2002 vintage red that you’ve been saving for the right occasion and toast to Pure Michigan. Here are four fun ways to celebrate Michigan Wine Month:

Attend the Michigan Wine Showcase in Detroit - April 7, 2014

To kick off the wine season, the Michigan Wine Showcase is taking place April 7th in Detroit. Join Master Sommeliers Claudia Tyagi and Madeline Triffon and 30 Michigan wineries for wine sampling and lavish appetizers created by Chef Chris Franz at The RattleSnake Club. Winemakers and winery owners will be on hand during this fabulous walk-around tasting to share their new release wines from the 2013 vintage! The Michigan Wine Showcase is a fantastic opportunity to experience the excellence of modern Michigan wines … and to enjoy sumptuous appetizers! Tickets are available in advance for $38 or $45 at the door.

Check out the Michigan Wine Celebration - April 12-13, 2014

Celebrate Michigan Wine Month at the Southeastern Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail’s “Michigan Wine Celebration” on Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13! Each winery along the trail will feature an appetizer or dessert prepared by a local chef and paired with their featured wine. The price also includes one tasting glass. A recipe card with the featured recipe will be given out to ticket holders at each winery.

Plan a visit to one of Michigan’s Wine Trails

If you can’t make it to an event, then be sure to check out a wine trail. Michigan is home to many unique wine trails. While the majority of vineyards are based on the western side of the state, wineries can be found in nearly every region. Here’s a list of wine trails around the state:

Impress your friends and family with Michigan wine facts

Share the Michigan Wine Month spirit by showing off your knowledge of Michigan’s wine industry with these fun facts about  from the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council.

  • - Michigan wineries attract more than 2 million visitors annually
  • - Michigan’s wine, grape and grape juice products add nearly $790 million of economic value
  • - The industry accounts for more than 5,000 jobs statewide and produce a payroll of more than $190 million
  • - Michigan is ranked the fifth state in wine grape production in the nation and vineyard area has doubled in the last 10 years
  • - The wineries produce more than 1.3 million gallons of wine annually – placing Michigan 13th in wine production

How will you celebrate Michigan Wine Month this April? 

For more information on Michigan wineries, watch the video below.