Here’s Your Chance to be the Honorary Starter at the 2014 Pure Michigan 400!

PM_400_Contest_403Can you picture yourself as the Honorary Starter at the Pure Michigan 400? As part of a contest we’re hosting with Michigan International Speedway (MIS) on the Pure Michigan Facebook page, fans have the chance to win the honor of waving the green flag at the August 17th race.

Contest details are as follows:

TO ENTER

Go to the contest tab on the Pure Michigan Facebook page and simply tell us in 50 words or less why you should be selected as the Honorary Starter at the Pure Michigan 400. The entry period is from July 28 – August 6. Please note that submissions may take up to 24 hours to post.

TO VOTE

Fans of the Pure Michigan Facebook page can vote on their favorite submissions up to once a day throughout the duration of the contest. Pure Michigan will choose the winner from the top 10 most-voted entries.

THE PRIZE

The winner will serve as the Honorary Starter at the Pure Michigan 400 on August 17! He or she will also receive four tickets to the race for friends and family. Please note that all other expenses including travel to Michigan International Speedway are at the winner’s own expense.

Interested in becoming the Honorary Starter? Head over to the Pure Michigan Facebook page today to submit your entry! 

Will you be at the Pure Michigan 400? Share with us below and get in on the discussion by following the #PureMichigan400 hashtag on Twitter!

Step Back In Time at Walker Tavern in Michigan’s Irish Hills

It’s amazing how much history there is to explore in Pure Michigan! And if you head towards Michigan’s Irish Hills, there’s plenty to uncover. Today, the team at the Michigan Historical Center shares the story behind one of the area’s historic gems – Walker Tavern Historic Site.

The Irish Hills of southern Michigan, formed by glaciers millions of years ago, have been home to Native Americans for thousands of years and to Europeans for a little more than three centuries. Located within a two-hour drive of most of Michigan’s major metropolitan areas, they are a great place to bring a picnic, enjoy swimming in a local lake or camp at one of several campgrounds. One of the area’s long time summer destinations is Walker Tavern Historic Site at Cambridge Junction, near Brooklyn.

Passing through kettle lakes and rolling hills, two Irish Hills roads meet at Cambridge Junction. One road, a worn Indian trail surveyed in 1825, joins Detroit with Chicago (now US-12); the other the La Plaisance Bay Pike (now M-50) joins Monroe on Lake Erie to Alto in west Michigan.

High traffic on these two roads in the 1830s created the need for a wayside tavern where people traveling by stage, wagon or foot could rest, take a meal or stay the night. Cost for a meal and lodging was 50 cents — the cost for an acre of land was $1.25. Most travelers on the two roads were looking for farms to purchase. Today’s travelers looking for rest, relaxation and the excitement of learning something new still find Walker Tavern Historic Site an enjoyable stop along the road.

The historic site includes three buildings and 80 acres of park land. Walker Tavern and the barn focus on the 1840s and 50s with artifacts and exhibits about people, travel and work. The Hewitt House is undergoing restoration as it tells stories of early auto tourism. Sundays are the busiest of all the days at the site, with visitors coming by to purchase locally-grown produce at the onsite Farmers Market or to take in a baseball game played by 1869 rules.

Railroads built in the 1850s turned Cambridge Junction from stagecoach hub to community gathering place. For many years the site was a farm. With the advent of the automobile at the beginning of the 20th century, life at Cambridge Junction began to change.

In 1922, the Rev. Frederick Hewitt purchased the old frame tavern, once owned by early settler Sylvester Walker, as well as its counterpart, the brick tavern he built across the road in 1853. Hewitt loved the Irish Hills as a place to hunt and fish, and now he saw opportunity to follow his passion for antiques.

Opening the taverns as antique store, hotel, restaurant and museum, Hewitt capitalized on the automobile tourism that brought a boom to the Irish Hills economy. A day’s ride by car from Detroit, the Irish Hills drew thousands of vacationers, who came to enjoy the lakes, hills and other tourist attractions. In 1929, Hewitt built a colonial revival home on his property. His visitors included Henry and Clara Ford and Michigan Governor Woodbridge Ferris. In 1965 Hewitt’s daughter sold the frame tavern and the land around it to the state, and it became Cambridge Junction State Park.

Today, the park offers visitors the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the Irish Hills and imagine a time of stagecoaches and one of early automobiles.  New this year in the newly painted red room of the Hewitt House are photos and the scrapbook of the family that recognized the historic value of Walker Tavern and preserved it.

To close out summer, why not find the road that takes you to the Irish Hills? Cambridge Junction State Park is open for picnics and gentle strolls seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The three historic buildings on site are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Park activities include a local Farmers Market on Sundays through Oct. 6, vintage baseball and various educational programs sponsored by the Friends of Walker Tavern.  To check the site’s events schedule please visit michigan.gov/walkertavern.

Our 13 Favorite Photos from the Pure Michigan 400

It’s been a great year for NASCAR racing in Pure Michigan! With the excitement of the Pure Michigan 400 just behind us, we wanted to share some of our favorite photos from the weekend at Michigan International Speedway. For more, check out our full set on Flickr or visit the Pure Michigan Facebook page.

Were you at the Pure Michigan 400 at MIS over the weekend? If so, tell us about your experience below!