Five Fun Ways to Celebrate “Fall-o-ween” in Pure Michigan

Today, our guest blogger Lyndsay Israel from The Awesome Mitten shares some seasonally-inspired ways to celebrate “Fall-o-ween” in Pure Michigan.

You may have noticed that we have hit the calendar jackpot for 2014!  Halloween on a Friday?  Does it get any better than that?  This year, plan your fall weekend celebrations right, including those leading up to the 31st- do, or see something new, take your kids somewhere fun, or win the prize at the Halloween party!  Check out these five ‘Fall-o-ween’ fun plans as you plot out the rest of your autumn months.

Fall Camping

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Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Yes, it’s already chilly, but you always sleep better when it’s cold out, right?  A lot of local campgrounds have adopted Halloween weekend events for their campers; these can include anything from a campsite decorating contest to a costume parade for the little campers!  Because the cold is unpredictable, many have moved this tradition to September, but call your favorite place and check.  I can at least point people to Harbor RV Resort in Monroe County, who celebrate Halloween weekly for all of October.  Head that way until the weekend of the 26th to check out their traditions.

Dress Locally

I always think of cool costumes at the most irrelevant times of the year.  If you share that curse, you forget your great ideas by the time you get your costume party invite.  What about going as a Michigan native?  Tim the Toolman Taylor (or Al, if you’re hairier), Kid Rock, Lucille Ball or Madonna all hail from the mitten state…and make for a fun costume.

Take a Drive

Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Peak color is happening any minute now but since it started so fast I anticipate a slow disappearance of the leaves…I am not an autumn expert but this is my opinion.  Check out the beautiful Tunnel of Trees from Harbor Springs to Cross Village (on M-119) if you’re close enough, or just find a park near you to appreciate the foliage before it’s replaced by frost.

Get Scared!

Tis the season to get lost in a corn maze or chased by a man with a chainsaw.  If getting scared is your cup of tea, check out The Haunt in Grand Rapids or ride the Junction Valley Spook Train in Saginaw County!  Take a Twilight Walking Tour in Sault St. Marie or take a Marshall Carriage Co. Ghost tour through local cemeteries.  There are no shortage of creepy options in Michigan, and for more ghastly ghosts, check out parts one, two and three of haunted places in Michigan from The Awesome Mitten.

Decorate

Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Decorating for Halloween can be a lot of work, but consider it a dry run for the winter holidays yet to come.  Even if you don’t transform your lawn into a spooky cemetery, pumpkins of all shapes and sizes can be transformed to showcase what your house holds dear.  For me, this means a giant football, but with a can of gold spray paint or black lacy tights, pumpkins can lend some class to your front porch.  Good old fashioned jack-o-lantern carving complete with a big candle to last the month is fun for the family, or decorate enough lanterns to line your driveway.  Use the neglected sand box to weigh down your paper bag lanterns, or send the kiddos on a scavenger hunt for rock weights.

For a comprehensive break down of fall fun in Michigan, check out michigan.org for a great list of even more Fall-o-ween to-dos. How are you celebrating “Fall-o-ween” in Pure Michigan this year?

Untitled1Lyndsay Israel is a life long Michigander currently in Traverse City. She has big ole soft spot for Grand Rapids, where she’s been the better part of the last decade.  Passions include writing about Michigan and Michigan craft beer. Future goals include making it through this Northern Michigan this winter, finishing her masters in secondary education at Grand Valley, owning a large dog, and reading as many books as she can.

 

 

 

Pure Michigan October 2014 Events Roundup

With apple picking, pumpkin carving and hay rides, it’s easy to see why October is a favorite time of year for many. From Monroe all the way to Houghton, there are events for the whole family to enjoy as fall enters full swing.

Below is a roundup of some of the many events going on around the state in October. Visit michigan.org for a complete listing of Michigan events.

 Week of September 29-October 5

A2 Art & Brew
October 2, Ann Arbor
This year visit eight participating breweries that will offer a tasting of its featured craft beer along with a uniquely paired tasty bite that compliments the beer. Join in the fun as local artists design a unique piece of site-specific sidewalk chalk art inspired by the brewery and beer. 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 through Monday, September 29th, $60 thereafter. Purchase tickets early, space is limited to 300 guests. You must be 21 years of age.

Zeeland Pumpkinfest
October 2-4, Zeeland
Pumpkinfest in Zeeland, Michigan, celebrates community, family fun and fall activities! 2014 will mark the 30th year for Pumpkinfest and take place October 2, 3, & 4. The three-day event will feature a number of free and low-cost events that can be enjoyed by all ages. Each year, a theme is chosen and from that theme, downtown Zeeland is decorated in fall decor and parade floats join the fun in matching the theme as well. The 2014 theme is “Pumpkinfest Pride…Celebrating 30 Years”.

Skitoberfest
October 3-4, Boyne Falls
A fall extravaganza and homecoming taking place in the Boyne Mountain Village and surrounding area. Skitoberfest celebrates the best of fall’s family offerings in an Oktoberfest style setting and the coming winter season with a Snowsports Summit hosted by Olympian Cary Adgate. Highlights include gourmet foods from northern Michigan restaurants, markets and farms, Michigan beers, wines and spirits for tasting, plus music and endless family entertainment. Admission is free, and tickets for food, brews and some activities are available. Special event lodging rates are available at Boyne Mountain Resort.

Bangor Apple FestivalBangor apple fest
October 4, Bangor
Fall is a beautiful time in Michigan. From the color of the fall leaves to the taste of a crisp apple, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Head to Bangor for the 36th Annual Bangor Apple festival, for activities that include car shows, lawn mower races, kids’ activities, live entertainment and much more.

Rattlesnake Run 5k
October 5, Rochester
Enjoy the fall colors and run, jog, or walk along the Paint Creek Trail located in Rochester, Michigan, in north Oakland County! Participants will receive a commemorative Rattlesnake Run T-shirt. To add to the fall fun, enjoy cider and donuts from the Paint Creek Cider Mill! Race begins at the Paint Creek Cider Mill.

Week of October 6-12

Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival
October 9-12, Alpena
Tour 11 lighthouses a whole new way. The four day event provides activities for the young and old including lighthouse tours (aerial, boat or personal vehicle), entertainment, and vendors. Climb many of the lighthouses, enjoy live entertainment and lighthouse exhibits, and nautical vendors round out the weekend.

Frankfort Fall Festival
October 11, Frankfort
Fall Festival celebration in Frankfort’s open space. Featuring a parade with the Scottville Clown Band, kid’s games, GIANT pumpkins, squash and watermelons, Master Carver Ed Moody, pumpkin drop on a car and catapults! Make your way to Frankfort for pumpkin decorating, Farmer’s Market and more!

Color Cruise and Island FestivalColor cruise
October 10-12, Grand Ledge
This three day festival is always the second full weekend in October at the Island Park in downtown Grand Ledge. See the beautiful autumn colors by riverboat, canoe, horse & wagon, bicycle or air. This event is filled with fun for the whole family and includes cider pressing, blacksmithing, fur traders, pioneer crafts, candle dipping, pumpkin painting, music, food, and a petting zoo. Shuttle service available from JC Park and the parking area off River Street. Friday is “Seniors Day” with discounts available

Appleumpkin Festival
October 11-12, Tecumseh
Tecumseh’s Appleumpkin Festival features arts and crafts, an antiques street fair, carnival games, midway rides, inflatables, a make-it take-it scarecrow tent and yummy fair food as well as live entertainment. Free parking is available with free shuttle service to transport visitors downtown and to the nearby Kapnick Apple Festival. Local restaurants are ready to serve delicious meals and merchants open their doors and invite you to explore a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. This festival is one you won’t want to miss!

ArtPrize 2014
September 24-October 12, Grand Rapids
ArtPrize is the world’s largest international art competition open to any artist and decided by public vote. Take 11 days to explore over 4500 artists at 515 venues in Grand Rapids and vote for the entries you think should win.

Week of October 13-19

Michigan’s Big Country Fest 2014
October 17-18, Frankenmuth
Slip on your cowboy boots, tip your hat and swing on over to the third annual Michigan’s Big Country Fest. Enjoy live bands, beer & mixed drinks, mechanical bull, down-home BBQ dinners and snacks, line dancing and much more. Free parking, handicapped accessible

Fall Fling Festival
October 18-19, New Era
Autumn is a special time at the farm: beautiful orchards and forests in the peak of fall color change, ripe pumpkins, the most varieties of apples to choose from of any season. That’s the backdrop for the annual Fall Fling Festival! Musicians, mimes, magicians, rides, face painters, balloon tiers, stilt walkers and more will join you at the 70+ animal petting farm. You won’t want to miss Michigan’s only animated chicken show, jumping pillows, pedal carts, duck races, Farming Rocks Gem Mining, Bunker Hill Fruit Cannons, pumpkin moon walk, barrel train rides, Apple Express wagon rides, pumpkin chucker and an eight acre corn maze.

Saginaw Zoo Boo
October 18-19, Saginaw
Put on your costumes and trick-or-treat your way through the decorated zoo! Load your treat bag with goodies from various vendors and booths. Watch Dr. Slime, the mad scientist, put on a mysterious, scientific show! Ticket price includes zoo admission, train and carousel ride, Dr. Slime Show, and trick-or-treating. Zoo members and the general public: $7 discount tickets available through October 17th. October 18th and after tickets are $9. Event also runs October 25 & 26.

The Walk
October 18, Shelby Township
Come dressed in your best costume and head out to Stony Creek Metropark on Saturday, October 18. The Walk offers an accessible and scenic fall route to walkers of all ages, while providing a fun filled and memorable day. Participants age 5 & under are free, ages 6-12 are $15, and ages 13 & up are $30. Halloween costumes or attire are strongly recommended!

2014 Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank MarathonTalmer
October 19, Detroit
There are so many things that make running Detroit unique and exciting – crossing international borders twice, running an “underwater mile”, and the large crowds and entertainers posted every few miles. The sights on Belle Isle are scenic and views of the city from the riverfront will make you wish you had your camera. This race has something for everyone from start to finish. All participants of the Marathon, International Half -Marathon, or U.S.-Only Half-Marathon must be at least 16 years of age. There is no age limit on the 5K or the Marathon Relay. Ages 4-12 are welcome for the Kids Fun Run.

Weeks of October 20-26 & October 27-31

Scarecrow Glow
October 22, Troy
Troy Historic Village is hosting “Scarecrow Glow”, a costume-optional event on Wednesday, October 22, 2014, from 6pm to 9pm. See the magic of the Village at night, and experience an evening of fall fun. Attendees will enjoy food and drinks from Troy establishments, while listening to the sweet sounds of jazz and bluegrass music. Watch a nighttime blacksmithing demonstration and make s’mores. A special gift bag will be given to all attendees. Costumes, especially related to the “Alice in Wonderland” theme, are encouraged. Tickets $40 per person, $50 per person at the door. Adults (21 and older) only.

The Glo Run
October 24, Lansing
The Glo Run is the energy that sparked the night run revolution. This is a 5k course on funroids with stimulating areas along the course. Run a nighttime 5k through a dreamworld full of glowing wonders and music.

Zombie Dash
October 25, Grand Rapids
Get ready for the wildest 5-K you will ever experience. Run a five kilometer course within the quarantine area. Conquer the infamous Apocalypse Avenue and Kill Hill. Dodge over 300 zombies looking for “fast food.” Race against darkness and survive the Zombie apocalypse. You’ll be given three or four “life strips” (flag football flags) to tuck in your pants. For each one you keep, you’ll have one minute subtracted from your time. No worries if you lose both. Just keep running and enjoy the experience of one of the most unique night races ever held.

Halloween in Greenfield VillagePhotos for Pure Michigan
October 10-26, Dearborn
Stroll down streets and alleys haunted by over 1,000 carved jack-o’-lanterns and lavishly costumed characters during America’s most spooktacular Halloween event. This is a kid-friendly, nightmare-free Halloween gathering. October 10-12, 17-19, and 24-26. Tickets rain or shine.

All Things Detroit III
October 26, Detroit
It’s time again for all of Detroit to come together and celebrate an amazing city at All Things Detroit III. This event will feature 60 local business owners with products made in Detroit, Detroit theme art, local bands, entertainment, raffles every 30 minutes, and free All Things Detroit souvenirs for the first 200 guests. This is a Motor City event you won’t want to miss!

Fall Color Tours by Dog Team
September 15 – October 31, Mc Millan
Enjoy the beautiful seasonal changes of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula by taking a ride with the sled dogs in our dog-powered trail vehicle. This is a fall color tour like you’ve never seen before! Our fall trips begin at 8 am and 10 am when you will meet your guides and receive an introduction to sled dog training. You’ll see how we hook up the dogs and even learn to harness a dog if you’d like. You’ll also get a tour of our kennel and the opportunity to hold adorable puppies. We’ll stop along the route for photos. We’ll have coffee or hot cocoa and a homemade treat when we return. Plan about two hours for your tour.

Eisenhower Dance: The Light ShowAlicia Light Show
October 31, East Lansing
Back by popular demand after the sensational Red, Hot and Blue, and fun-filled Motown in Motion, Eisenhower Dance returns with a visually stunning co-commission by Wharton Center and the Detroit Opera House. The Light Show matches choreographers with lighting designers for four cleverly electrifying pieces incorporating lasers, light, and innovative dance. One of the finest contemporary dance ensembles today, Michigan’s acclaimed Eisenhower Dance combines remarkable technique with inventive choreography. Ticketed event.

With so much to do around the state in October, what will you do? 

How to Plan for the Perfect Pure Michigan Fall Color Tour in the Great Lakes Bay Region

Fall is in the air in Pure Michigan! Make the most of the vibrant changing colors by embarking on a fall color adventure on the waterways of the Great Lakes Bay region. Today, guest blogger Wil Hufton of Johnny Panther Quest Adventure trips tells us how to plan for the perfect Pure Michigan fall color tour. 

Photo courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

Photo courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

As the operator of a boating adventure tour company, people often ask me when is the best (or my favorite) time to go on a boat ride.  And for decades, my response has never changed.  “When you are BREATHING!”

This year marks my twentieth official one in a lifelong adventure of taking guests through the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge and some of my other favorite places on earth.  It’s part of my livelihood, my business –Johnny Panther Quests Adventure Trips.  More than that, it’s part of who I am.

When I was a young boy, my stepdad bought a set of hand-drawn, color-coded maps, and, with these, we spent five years exploring every river, creek, ditch, and bayou of the Refuge.  We came to know the waterways so well that I could navigate their twists and bends by heart, even at 2am with no moon and no light to guide me.  When folks ask how I do it, I reply, “By braille!”

I admit being partial to the spring, but fall on the waterways of the Great Lakes Bay has a magic all its own.  The air is sweet, the foliage is ripe, and the migrations are cranking up into full swing.  As the frost gets thicker and the days get shorter, the infinite shades of green transform into a kaleidoscope of color.  It becomes easier to pick out the wildlife through the trees and the water gets clearer, sometimes so full of leaves it looks like land.

Photo courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

Photo courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

The Saginaw River Valley is rich with wildlife in a way you couldn’t imagine until you’ve seen it. Sometimes so many birds fill the sky, you’ll wish you had a raincoat on, and you never… (I repeat, never)… look up with your mouth open!  Jokes aside, this is the “Everglades of Michigan” at its finest.  And it’s all here when you set out for a fall color tour in Pure Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region.

Going on a fall color tour doesn’t have to mean cramming into a car and hitting the tarmac, mile marker after mile marker, as you watch the beautiful fall colors fly past you through the glass.  In the Great Lakes Bay, we like to make our fall color tours a little more… vibrant.  That’s why, on Johnny Panther Quest Adventure Trips (and other Great Lakes Bay fall color tour experiences like those aboard Bay City’s Appledore Tallships) you can experience the beauty of the season as it was intended.  Naturally, freely, and however you please.

That’s because you can customize your fall color tour to be exactly what you want, and nothing you don’t.  If you’re looking for a romantic, relaxing tour, early fall is perfect. From Mid-September through late October the foliage changes dramatically.  At this time in the season, sunsets become more dramatic, and couples snuggle closer together sharing warmth as the world comes alive around them.  Sharing the romance of nature with others is what I live for, and if theirs is reignited in some way, then I’ve been successful!

Photo courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

Photo courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

To make the most of an early fall color tour:

  • See nature at its peak.  Here, the fall colors peak around Mid-October, so it’s the perfect time to witness the waterways in all their autumn glory.
  • Dress warm! You can never bring too many layers, and can always remove a few!
  • Bring coolers. Fill them with your favorite bevereages (warm or cold!), pack a picnic basket (with wine, cheese, and chocolate perhaps?) and don’t forget to stash a camera.
  • Pack your binoculars.  As the season progresses, the migrations increase along with other animal activity. We will start seeing more raptors and sometimes multiple eagles in the trees.

Rather opt for a little more of a trailblazing adventure?  You’re not alone.  Each year, I have more and more people who are willing to put on a snowmobile suit and brave the cold to go for a boat ride later in the season (late fall and even well into winter).  Why? Because the deeper in the season we are, the more stuff we see.  Good stuff.  Like the eagle, hawk, heron, and owl.  In the later months, their nests stick out like sore thumbs.  The air is full of birds, and some of the buck’s racks are nothing short of awesome. The solitude and tranquility of thirty-two square miles of rivers, marshes, and bayous beckons.

Photo courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

Photo courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

To make the most of a late fall (or early winter) color tour (November):

  • Don’t underestimate the late fall or early winter chill.  Dress warm and in layers. Bring spare clothes. A snowmobile suit or similar can be your best friend.
  • Keep things toasty.  Switch from cold beverages to something warm that won’t freeze!
  • Stick with the staples.  As always, stock your picnic baskets, bring cameras (and binoculars are always highly recommended).

By branching out on a late fall or early winter adventure, the colorful leaves will be gone and a totally different landscape awaits. Spotting wildlife will be far easier, and the chorus of ducks, geese, and swans will at full amplitude. The air will be brisk and sometimes biting, we don’t call them adventure trips for nothing!

For it all, you’ll will be rewarded with “tranquilitude.”  A life changing, battery-recharging experience far removed from the hustle and bustle of civilization. If you truly want to eliminate stress, get out of the mainstream, and go on a “quest!”  And your quest for the perfect fall color tour begins right here in the Great Lakes Bay.

Take a quick preview of what you can expect on a Great Lakes Bay fall color tour with Johnny Panther Quest Adventure Trips in the video below!

Wil Hufton - Guest BloggerWil L. Hufton III is the owner and operator of Johnny Panther Quest Adventure Trips, a AAA Gem Attraction that has specialized in ecotours by boat for over 19 years.  He is an outdoor enthusiast who loves sharing his “playground” with others and educating them on everything from waterways to wildlife.