See What’s on Tap for Kalamazoo Beer Week

Now in its fifth year, Kalamazoo Beer Week supports the craft beer experience in the Kalamazoo area through special tastings, dinners and interactive events. As we get ready for the event to kick off  Saturday, January 10th, take a look at what’s on tap and make your plans to attend. 

Boatyard Brewing Co.'s label artwork was on display during Art Hops at the Epic Center in downtown Kalamazoo.

Boatyard Brewing Co.’s label artwork was on display during Art Hops at the Epic Center.

Kalamazoo Beer Week, initiated and organized by Kalamazoo-based Imperial Beverage and tourism entity Discover Kalamazoo, will return for its fifth year tomorrow, January 10, and last until the 17th. Dubbed KBW by repeat participants, the weeklong series of events features more than 200 events and nearly 50 Michigan and out-of-state breweries, craft beer activities and educational events at bars, restaurants, and gourmet retail locations.

A couple of breweries will host beer dinner’s, and one of last year’s favorites, the Dark Horse “Anti-Beer Dinner” will be back again. The “Anti-Beer Dinner” is a spoof on the idea of a fancy beer dinner. For $15 a person, Dark Horse will serve a flight of Dark Horse Beer and a pint of Dark Horse beer, as well as food to pair with each beer. Don’t miss out on Hot Pockets, Ramen Noodles, Pop Tarts and this year, they’ve hinted at a Jello-O mold!

Arbor Brewing Co. offered a sour tasting with the brewer at Old Burdick's in downtown Kalamazoo.

Arbor Brewing Co. offered a sour tasting in downtown Kalamazoo.

A new event this year, Kalamazoo’s Boatyard Brewing and PEDAL (Bike Shop) are celebrating the relationship between craft beer and cycling with Fat Tire Bike Drag Racing!  Pedal will have fat bikes on hand for you to ride. Bring your helmet or your cheering voice as the races should be fun to watch.

A few other things new to KBW this year:

Rails to Ales
On Amtrak’s Wolverine or Blue lines, Kalamazoo Beer Week goers can travel between Chicago and Kalamazoo for 20% off.

The Kalamazoo Beer: A cross between a bear and deer…so you get a "beer!"

The Kalamazoo Beer: A cross between a bear and deer…so you get a “beer!”

Untappd Badge
If you are already a craft beer lover, you know about the great social media site “Untappd”.  Unlock your KBW Badge by checking into two or more KBW locations.

Hotel Packages 
Local hoteliers have put together packages for visitors.  Most include late check out, gift bags, or entries to events.

Stay up-to-date on KBW events throughout the week by following @KzooBeerWeek on Twitter! For a full list of events, visit the KBW website.

Have you attended Kalamazoo Beer Week in the past? What was your favorite event? 

Humans Aren’t Meant To Hibernate! Discover Michigan Skiing With These Cost-Cutting Tips

It’s winter in Michigan! For Mickey MacWilliams, Executive Director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, it’s her favorite time of the year. Here she shares some tips for taking full advantage of all that Pure Michigan ski areas have to offer this season.

Photo by Instagram user @benhunt13

Photo by Instagram user @benhunt13

Skiing has been a popular sport in Michigan for over a century, and today it’s a $4 billion industry. Michigan is home to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, and some of the first and largest ski jumping competitions originated here back in the early 1900s. We have been enjoying Michigan’s winter weather ever since, and now it’s your turn!

For those who don’t know how to ski or snowboard but want to learn, January is the month. That’s when ski facilities all across Michigan offer an exciting and affordable learn-to-ski or snowboard program called Discover Michigan Skiing. Beginners aged seven and up receive a lesson, equipment rental and a lift ticket or trail pass for just $20 for cross-country skiing or $35 for downhill skiing or snowboarding. To get started, a Discover Michigan Skiing voucher is needed, and they are available at participating McDonald’s restaurants in Michigan or online at goskimichigan.com.

Snowboarders_basin_stKids in fourth and fifth grade can ski for free all across Michigan this year with the Cold is Cool Ski & Ride Passport. Twenty-seven ski areas have each contributed up to three lift tickets for this passport booklet, so students can ski all winter long, accompanied by an adult. Cold is Cool Passport applications and program details are available at ski shops across the state and also at goskimichigan.com.

Ski areas across the state offer packages, special events and discounts that can be a lot of fun while helping to reduce the costs of getting out onto the slopes and trails. The Events & Discounts tab on goskimichigan.com is updated frequently and offers a wide assortment of options.

MtBrighton_2274_485_322_300Want to know what the snow conditions and weather are like at any Michigan Ski area?  The Ski Areas and Conditions page provides up-to-date snow conditions and direct links to ski areas all across the state, where you can view web cams and see conditions in real time.

We live in a state that turns cold for four months each year. Michigan is truly a winter wonderland. If you’re dressed right for the weather – like our ancestors did for over 100 years – it is amazing out there.  Here is a link to a brief, condensed history of Michigan skiing.  Now it’s your turn to get outside and enjoy the Pure Michigan winter!

What are your tips for first-time skiers and snowboarders? 

Screen-Shot-2013-11-25-at-4.57.24-PM-150x150Mickey MacWilliams is the executive director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, which represents the ski and snowboard industry in our state.  She is also an avid downhill and cross-country skier and a very timid but enthusiastic snowboarder.  You can reach her at info@goskimichigan.com.

History Buffs Will Love These Six Fascinating Stories from Jackson’s Past

Jackson’s history is closely tied to prison history. The prison made Jackson a wealthy industrial town during the Industrial Revolution by providing valuable, cheap labor in the factories. Today, guest blogger Rebecca Calkins from Experience Jackson shares six fascinating stories from the city’s past. 

Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Prison history is not just important to Jackson, it’s important to Michigan and the United States. Michigan’s most notable criminals, from Kevorkian to the infamous Purple Gang, have passed through those walls. In the 1880s, prison reformers of Europe looked to the reports of American reformers. The appeal of a prison story is nothing new. Whether it’s Shawshank Redemption or Orange is the New Black, stories of crime and redemption have always fascinated us.

Jackson Robber Gang
The first mass break out in 1840 freed ten convicts from the prison walls, then made of wood. They fled to Spring Arbor where they terrorized the area for two years until all but two of them were caught.  

Prisoner Sarah Havilland
Female prisoners were at the Michigan State Prison with the men up until 1882. Sarah Havilland poisoned her own children because she couldn’t feed them. Yet inside the prison she became the much beloved caregiver to the warden’s children, who at the time lived onsite.

Night Keeper John H. Purves 
Civil War hero, Night Keeper John H. Purves was one of the first true prison reformers. Although firm with punishments, he also believed in rewards to incentivize good behavior. He kept a journal published in 1882 “The Nightkeeper’s Reports” which provided the country inspiration for prison reform. The book is sold in The Original Jackson Historic Prison Tour Gift Shop.

Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

The Purple Gang, Jackson Prison and State Sen. Warren G. Hooper Murder 
About to testify before a grand jury, State Sen. Warren G. Hooper was shot on Jan. 11, 1945 on his way home to Albion, Mich. It was believed to be a professional hit by Detroit’s infamous Purple Gang, who at the time virtually had their way in the Jackson prison. Attorney General John R. Dethmers, theorized that Hooper’s murderer had been slipped out of the prison to commit the crime and returned to rest easy with a perfect alibi. 

Prison Handicraft: From Wedding Dresses to Leather Purses 
At Michigan’s First State Prison women bought their wedding dresses from the prison tailor shop. At the new Southern Michigan Correctional Facility, the Hobbycraft Sales shop was filled with finely crafted leather and woodworking items. Some of their handiwork can be seen at the Cell Block 7 Prison Museum.

Filming of the movie Stone with Robert DeNiro 
In 2009, the newest guests of the prison were Edward Norton, Milla Jovovich and Robert DeNiro. After 2007 when the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility was finally closed, several film crews used the old cell blocks including Stone, Conviction (starring Hilary Swank), and Street Boss.

Jackson has two opportunities to experience prison history. Spend time visiting both of the one-time largest walled prisons in the world.

The Original Historic Prison Tours
517-817-8960
HistoricPrisonTours.com

Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

The Original Historic Prison Tours takes you through Michigan’s First State Prison, now Armory Arts Village, and covers Jackson’s prison history from 1839 through present-day. Judy Gail Krasnow, Owner and Operator shares her favorite tale.

“Our Original Historic Prison Tour is filled with amazing stories such as the clever use of the huge cockroaches. Inmates tied a smuggled cigar on the insect’s back. The first inmate lifted the bug and took his puff. Then, putting the bug down, he held the string. The insect scurried, but could only reach the next cell. There the next inmate enjoyed his puff and so-on down the row until one unlucky inmate just got the “roach”.”

Cell Block 7 Prison Museum
517-787-2320
CellBlock7.org

The only prison exhibit within the walls of an operating penitentiary, Cell Block 7 is not just a replica; it’s a real prison, where thousands of convicts have done hard time. You’ll inhabit the same cells, walk the same corridors, pass by the same gun towers as some of the most hardened criminals in Michigan’s history. The difference is, when you’re ready, you can just walk out the door.

Headshot 1 originalRebecca Calkins is the Communications Director for Experience Jackson. She grew up in Jackson and returned after attending college at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. When not working, Rebecca enjoys cooking and traveling, always looking for the next culinary or cultural adventure.