NASCAR, Auto Shows, Ice Cream and Pure Michigan

It’s been a busy week for Pure Michigan and today, we thought we’d catch you up on some of the news you might have missed from earlier this week.

Pure Michigan 400
Yesterday, the Michigan International Speedway and Pure Michigan announced that they are again teaming up to host the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at MIS on Sunday, August 19. The three-year partnership was announced at the North American International Auto Show with two of NASCAR’s most popular and successful drivers, Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr. Check back here later this year for information as we get closer to race day.

Pure Michigan Ride and Drive Track at the Auto Show
Speaking of the North American International Auto Show, be sure to stop by and check out the Pure Michigan Ride and Drive Track–a quarter-mile indoor ride-and-drive test track surrounded by landscaped and forested terrain, where visitors take a ride in electric and hybrid vehicles provided by more than 30 auto manufacturers. This ride and drive area features a sand-covered road to convey a Pure Michigan dune look and feel, and 40 banners displaying natural Michigan scenes will also help create a unique driving experience. Remember, the show opens to the public on January 14th and runs until the 22nd. For a recap of vehicles from the Detroit automakers, check out this post from earlier this week.

Hudsonville Ice Cream “Create a Flavor” Contest
Do you like ice cream and think you have a great name and idea for a new Pure Michigan State Park flavor? Hudsonville Ice Cream in Holland is partnering with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Pure Michigan and has launched a “Create a Flavor” contest where you are encouraged to submit a name and flavor that best represents the outdoor joys of Michigan. The winning flavor will be chosen from a panel of Outstanding Outdoor Kids and celebrity judges.

To enter, visit www.hudsonvilleicecream.com. The grand prize for the winning ice cream flavor includes free Hudsonville ice cream for a year, a one-week stay in a Michigan state park or harbor of the winner’s choice, a $1,000 gift card from Meijer and Pure Michigan merchandise.

The campaign will continue throughout the summer with an RV ice cream tour crossing the state promoting the popular DNR Recreation 101 program. As the official ice cream of the Michigan State Parks, Hudsonville Ice Cream will distribute the winning flavor to retail outlets and ice cream parlors throughout Michigan and the Midwest as well as during the RV ice cream tour this summer.

For more information, check out this audio clip featuring Maia Stephens from the Department of Natural Resources on Shelley Irwin’s Morning Show.

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Pure Michigan Holiday Tree Lightings

Photo by Valerie Hoffman

Today, nothing evokes the holiday spirit quite like a brightly-lit tree, but light wasn’t part of the original concept.  The celebratory tree tradition traces all the way back to decidedly low-tech 15th century Germany.  The first instance of decorative light – in the form of wax candles – wasn’t recorded for another 300 years.

Candle-lit holiday trees took off as an American tradition after 1850, when a drawing of Queen Victoria’s “Christmas Tree” appeared in Philadelphia’s “Godey’s Lady’s Book.”  Electric lights became a popular trimming after President Coolidge flipped the switch on the first “National Christmas Tree” in 1923.

If you can’t make it to Washington for the lighting of the 89th National Christmas Tree this December 1, there are plenty of towns across Michigan hosting their own tree lighting ceremonies this month and next.  The list below likely includes a celebration near you.

Grand Haven Light Night
November 18, Grand Haven
Enjoy downtown Grand Haven as the lights begin to turn on in the trees for the first time in the holiday season. Participating stores will be holding their holiday open houses with excellent ideas for everyone on your holiday list.

Silver Bells in the City
November 18, Lansing
Celebrate the season with 80,000 attendees of downtown Lansing’s annual electric light parade, including the lighting of Michigan’s official Christmas tree and a beautiful fireworks display cascading over the capitol dome.

Christmas in the Village
November 18 – 19, Manchester
This Manchester event features horse-drawn wagon rides, a parade, Santa greetings, a bake sale, and the annual Christmas tree lighting.

Frankenmuth Holiday Celebration & Candlewalk
November 25, Frankenmuth
The perfect way to start the Christmas season. Hot chocolate and cookies at 6pm. Candlewalk from the River Place to the Chamber Platz for the lighting of the Tannenbaum. Santa will be in the Pavilion from 6:30-8:30pm on Friday, November 25.

Santa’s Arrival & Tree Lighting
November 25, Plymouth
Santa arrives in Kellogg Park, November 25 at 5:40pm with a Christmas carol sing-a-long and tree lighting to follow. After caroling, Santa will be escorted to his house.

Au Gres Chamber of Commerce Annual Christmas Parade
November 26, Au Gres
The tree lighting starts at 5:45 pm, followed by Christmas Parade at 6.  The parade ends at Au Gres City Pavilion, on North Main Street with hot chocolate and Santa visits!

Family Christmas – Muskegon
November 26, Muskegon
Hackley Park hosts the Muskegon tree lighting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Santa will be there, and hot chocolate and hot dogs available for purchase.

Festival of Lights
November 26, Pentwater
Pentwater is decorated for the season with shopping, dining, carolers, music, chestnuts roasting, horse drawn carriage rides and other fun scheduled throughout the day.  The Pentwater tree lighting and Santa’s arrival takes place on the Village Green at 5 pm.

Santa’s Arrival and Courthouse Lighting
November 29, Midland
Santa’s arrival parade starts at the Tridge at 7:00 pm, followed by the Courthouse lighting ceremony and the opening of Santa’s magical house on Main Street.

Les Cheneaux Old Fashion Christmas
November 25 – December 4, Les Cheneaux
Tree lightings take place on the 25th and 26th, with the Les Cheneaux Holiday Arts and Crafts Bazaar on November 26.

Goodrich’s Downtown Christmas
December 1, Goodrich
The Goodrich tree lighting ceremony includes Santa, choirs, carol singing and the reading of the Christmas story. Throughout the downtown area there will be street vendors, music and more.

Santa’s Arrival in Traverse City
December 2, Traverse City
Santa will join the carols, receive the key to his house from the Traverse City Mayor and then help light the tree at 6 pm, before spending the rest of the evening (6-8 pm) visiting the little ones at his holiday house across at Cass and Front Streets.

Cadillac’s Downtown Storybook Christmas
December 2 – 3, Cadillac
Downtown Cadillac will bustle with activity all weekend. Enjoy store specials, holiday menus and Santa’s arrival before Christmas trees are lit around the lake front.

Victorian Sleigh Bell Parade & Old Christmas Weekend – Manistee
December 1 – 4, Manistee
The Festival of Trees follows an authentic Victorian parade complete with period costumes and horse-drawn units.

Lexington Christmas Tree Lighting & Merchant Candle Walk
December 3, Lexington
Join in the Lexington Christmas Tree Lighting and merchant Candle Walk. Santa arrives at 7 pm, followed by a sing along, trolley rides and more.

Circle of Trees – North Muskegon
December 4, Muskegon
Walker Park in North Muskegon hosts the annual Circle of Trees, including a lighting ceremony, dog parade and community carol sing-a-long.

The Big, Bright Light Show – Rochester
November 28, 2011 – January 1, 2012, Rochester
All the buildings on Main Street from the south bridge to Romeo Rd. will be covered in over a million points of light, along with East and West Fourth Street. Also, there will be large, lighted displays on Walnut from Third to University, The Dazzling Tree of Lights at the Depot Plaza (E. University & Water), and The Snowflake Spectacular on the Western Knitting Mill on Water Street.

Fall for a Pure Michigan Road Trip

The leaves are changing in the Great Lakes State, which can mean only one thing: Fall is here in Pure Michigan!

Now is the perfect time to hit the road and marvel at Michigan second-to-none annual color show of reds, golds, oranges and yellows splashed across the state. No matter where you are in Michigan you’re never more than 85 miles from a Great Lake, and with so many other natural and man-made wonders, from waterfalls to museums, it’s easy to plan a fun-filled road trip that is Pure Michigan.

Take a cruise down these fall color driving routes that follow winding, two-lane roads to scenic spots, historic sites, small towns and recreation areas around the state. Bring the binoculars to wildlife viewing areas along the way, like Pigeon River Country State Forest – home to the largest free-roaming elk herd east of the Mississippi – or venture to the Upper Peninsula to catch a glimpse of free-ranging moose.
For those a little less adventures, there are numerous historic covered bridges throughout the state, including White’s Covered Bridge over the Flat River in Ionia County that dates back to 1867. Don’t forget to plan a shoreline tour to see some of Michigan’s 115 Great Lakes lights and lighthouses; you can even stay at a choice of lighthouse Bed & Breakfast inns overlooking Lake Superior.

While you’re on the road, make sure to stop along the way and taste the many flavors that Pure Michigan has to offer. From cider mills, wineries, artisan breweries, and foodie tours, Michigan has something to please every palate. Microbrew enthusiasts will want to be sure to check out the Detroit Fall Beer Festival at the city’s Eastern Market on Oct. 22, and wine lovers won’t want to miss The Round Barn Winery’s Jammin’ in the Vineyard each Saturday and Sunday through October.

For more events and activities, visit michigan.org and sign up for the free Pure Michigan eNewsletter for updates on fall colors, festivals and events, special promotions, and more.