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

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 9.11.34 AM

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 November 2014 Events Roundup

November in Michigan brings a unique blend of fall festivities, crisp weather and holiday cheer. From festivals and markets to parades and runs through the forest, there’s always something happening throughout the month in Pure Michigan. For a complete listing of Michigan’s November events, visit michigan.org/events.

Week of November 1-7

2014_ELFF_FINAL_QR-01-250x386East Lansing Film Festival
October 30-November 6, East Lansing
The East Lansing Film Festival (ELFF) is the largest and most diverse film festival in Michigan to screen independent and foreign feature, documentary, short and students films from around the world. An important aspect of the film festival is the Lake Michigan Film Competition that awards films made in the states that surround Lake Michigan – Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

The Big Squeeze: An Accordion Summit
November 1, Ann Arbor
The accordion takes center stage with this University Music Society-only summit showcasing a broad spectrum of performance and compositional styles and sounds that contribute to the instrument’s virtually ubiquitous position throughout global music. Representing the accordion on a grand scale, the Accordion Virtuosi of Russia features an orchestra of accordions of all sizes, performing popular Russian classical music arrangements. Be prepared to be blown out of your seat by Russian accordion wizard Alexander Sevastian.

Honoring The Sacrifice
November 1, University Center
Head to Saginaw Valley State University for a special statewide veteran event. Guests include Col. Danny McKinght (book/movie Black Hawk Down), PFC Marissa Strock (a veteran of the Iraq War who lost two friends and both legs in Iraq), along with Army Sergeant Michelle Rudzitis (who lost her leg in Iraq due to an IED) will be a few of our special guests. Kids games and face painting will also be part of the fun.

 Toast the Season
November 1-2, Suttons Bay
Toast the Season – Leelanau style! Celebrate the upcoming holiday season enjoying local wine and fresh fare at each of the 23 participating wineries. Enjoy tasting and touring (11am – 5pm Saturday and 12pm to 5pm Sunday) during one of two consecutive weekends. Tickets include a featured wine and food pairing at 23 wineries, a souvenir wine glass and the wildly popular holiday gift bag. Valid for guests 21 years and older. Tickets are $75 couple, $50 single.

Taste of Home
November 6, Saginaw
Taste of Home Cooking School introducing Saginaw Native Chef Eric Villegas in the newly renovated concert venue “The Red Room”. Learn new fall recipes, meal ideas and creative cooking tips. Meet hundreds of people like you who love to cook! Receive a free gift bag with valuable coupons and Taste Of Home ingredients. Pre-Event Expo from 3pm to 6pm with seminars by Listen To The Mrs. Expo included in show ticket price.

Jason Mraz Concert
November 6, Detroit
Award-winning singer/songwriter, Jason Mraz announced the North American leg of his upcoming “YES!” world tour, slated to visit an array of legendary venues around the country, including Detroit’s Fox Theatre. The tour is in support of Mraz’s anticipated new album YES! Shows will also feature backing from album collaborators, Raining Jane.

Week of November 8 – 14

Bell’s Beer Iceman Cometh Challenge
IcemanNovember 8, Kalkaska
The Bell’s Beer Iceman Cometh Challenge is a 29 mile point-to-point mountain bike race from Kalkaska to Traverse City, Michigan. The race starts in downtown Kalkaska, Michigan, and finishes 29 miles later at Timber Ridge RV & Recreation Resort on the eastern edge of Traverse City, Michigan. Event attracts competitive cyclists from Canada and 36 states.

Michigan Food, Beer, and Wine Fest
November 8, Flint
Be part of this third annual event featuring more than 100 various Michigan beers and 60 Michigan wines. There will also be premiere area food vendors, along with seminars and demonstrations, a free photo booth, strolling magicians, live music in an indoor park-like setting, and more.

Downward Dunk: Yoga on the Pistons Court
November 9, Auburn Hills
The Detroit Pistons are hosting one of Detroit’s largest yoga instructions in the state on The Palace court! Instruction led by Caren Paskel with Yoga Shelter.  Registration includes yoga class and ticket to Pistons vs Jazz game. Join yoga enthusiasts and Pistons fans from around the state for this fun and unique demonstration.

World Run Day Fun Run
November 9, Mattawan
Join in the second annual Dirty Herd World Run Day Trail Run! This Run is a perfect introduction to running trails, yet still offers excitement to the more advanced runner. 5K Fun Run/Walk or 10K Fun Run.

Women’s Only Weekend
November 13-16, South Haven
Sorry guys, the gals are taking over South Haven! It’s Women’s Only Weekend in November! Steer clear as droves of women hit the shops, restaurants, and local attractions in downtown South Haven to enjoy each other’s company and be entertained! Ticketed event.

Week of November 15-21

Christmas Through Lowell
November 14-16, Lowell
The Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce presents over 50 homes and businesses that are unique and magical. Over 300 artists and crafters will showcase their gifts and creations for three days! On your Christmas Through Lowell shopping extravaganza, you will find hand-made treasures, jewelry, Christmas decorations, folk art and fine art, antiques, beeswax candles and home-made candles, crocheted and knitted crafts, home-made rugs and quilts, and much, much more!

Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Animal ShowLizard
November 15, Kalamazoo
Buy sell or trade a variety of reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and other exotic pets! Head to Kalamazoo to meet up with some slithering friends and many other unique animals you might not see at home! Adults $4, children $2, children under 6 are free, and family max is $15.

A Celebration of Harold Pinter
November 16, East Lansing
Julian Sands brings to life the poems and prose of literary genius, Harold Pinter, the director, actor, political activist, and Nobel Prize-winner. Sands has a rare insight into Pinter’s personality, life, and works. He has been seen on stage, on television, in the Academy Award-nominated film, The Killing Fields, as well as Leaving Las Vegas, A Room With A View, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Don’t miss a remarkable evening with an extraordinary actor.

Silver Bells in the City
November 21, Lansing
The entire city of Lansing will glow with millions of lights for the 30th Annual Silver Bells in the City, bringing together family and friends from all over Michigan to celebrate the holiday season. Immediately following the parade, the steps of the State Capitol will sparkle as the State Christmas tree is lighted, followed by a spectacular fireworks display cascading over the capitol dome.

Festival of Trees
November 20-30, Muskegon
The Muskegon Museum of Art will host its annual Festival of Trees in what has become a Muskegon tradition, transforming the museum galleries into a festive holiday display, special events and activities! This year’s decorative theme will carry through themed trees, wreaths, and other holiday décor created by local designers and sponsored by individuals and organizations in the community. Visitors can bid on the trees, décor items, and donated gift baskets during the Festival’s on-going silent auction. Some other special events will be Teddy Bear Breakfast, Senior Day and live musical entertainment by a variety of local performers.

Week of November 22-28, 29 & 30

Turkey Trot 5K
November 27, Ann Arbor
Join many on Thanksgiving morning in beautiful Ann Arbor, Michigan, for what has been rated one of the “Best Thanksgiving Races in America” by Active.com. Start off your Thanksgiving with a 5K run starting at E Liberty Street; Ann Arbor!

Fantasy of LightsFantasy of lights
November 28, Howell
The annual Fantasy of Lights on the day after Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season in Howell! Join in the family friendly activities, followed by the Fantasy 5K and the start of the parade at 7pm. This event is sure to get you in the holiday spirit with fun for all.

Broadway in Saginaw! Mannheim Steamroller
November 28, Saginaw
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis Friday, November 28th at 8pm. This show features the beloved Christmas music along with dazzling multi-media effects performed in an intimate setting. Come catch the spirit of the season!

The Nutcracker
November 28-30, Detroit
Journey to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy as, by popular demand, one of the nation’s most respected dance companies returns to the Detroit Opera House with their enchanting interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s magical holiday classic.

Home for the Holidays
November 28-30, Hart
Join the Hart community for the annual Lighted Christmas Parade in the beautiful downtown. Santa will be at Hart Commons after the parade with candy canes for the children, so bring the camera and kids Christmas lists!

November is full of fun activities for the whole family! How many will you attend?

Four Characteristics of a Pure Michigan Fall

Today, guest blogger Shannon Saksewski from The Awesome Mitten shares a few key ingredients of fall in Pure Michigan.

15reasonstolovefall1Seasons.  A stark difference between four distinct seasons.  This is one of the several reasons why, despite opportunities, I haven’t felt truly compelled to move to another state.  It’s always been difficult for me to imagine living in a place where I couldn’t, in a broad sense, measure time by looking at the leaves.

Fall’s my favorite.  Fall is a favorite for a lot of people.  You’ve likely noticed by now that large retailers agree, especially if you’ve ever walked through their aisles in August—and sometimes July—when they start offering Halloween goodies and autumn decor.  Let’s set the retail goods aside for now, though, and focus on what makes Michigan truly special in the fall.

Colors
Oh, the glorious colors!  People from around the country flock to the Mitten in the fall to witness the flaming reds, oranges, yellows, and even burgundies.  Peak color varies throughout the state, but generally falls between mid-September through the end of October.  As a general rule, the farther north one travels, the earlier colors will peak.

Color tours are a popular fall activity for many Michigan residents and visitors.  Residents need not travel far in order to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Michigan’s technicolor forests.  Over half of the state is forested—that’s over 19 million acres—and most of that consists of northern hardwoods (the color-changers, like maples).  Want to get on the road to see what all the fuss is about?  Here’s a list of color driving tours.  Prefer to get out of the car and see the sights up close?  Try these hiking and biking tours.

Bangor apple festApples
With 9.2 million apple trees, Michigan is the second-largest apple producing state in the US—and we have serious love for our orchards!  It seems like almost everyone, especially people who grew up here, has a favorite orchard.  My personal favorite is Wasem’s in Milan, very near where I grew up.  I love that place for its crisp Michigan apples, sure.  If you talk to someone about their favorite orchard long enough, though, you’ll likely realize that they’re not in it for the apples alone.  Orchards offer a range of goods and experiences.  For example, I contend that Wasem’s has the best donuts, cider, and apple butter in the universe.  (That’s a strong statement, and I’d love to debate the point—and taste-test—with any of you!)

Orchards offer much more than edible goods.  In addition, they are often home to Halloween-themed activities like haunted houses, haunted hay rides, and nighttime corn mazes.  For those less inclined to be purposefully terrified, check out the decorative goods, historical surrounds, demonstrations, and much more.  A visit to the orchard could be a brief stop, or an all-day affair.  Check out an old favorite, or search for a future favorite.  Regardless, enjoy!

FordfieldFestivals
Clearly, there’s a lot to celebrate about fall in Michigan.  Colors! Apples! Pumpkins! Alpacas!  Oh, and beer.  Check out this calendar of Michigan’s fall festivals.  At least a few of these are on my must-see list.  Which will you visit?

Football
We tend to take football pretty seriously in Michigan—to the point where some of us use “fall” and “football season” interchangeably.  Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Michigan’s own Detroit Lions or a  particular university, or are just in it for tailgating fun (or both), it’s possible that you closely associate football and fall.  Not too interested in football?  That’s OK.  There are plenty of orchards to visit instead of tailgating, cramming into a stadium, and/or yelling at the television.

What do you think?  What other festivals, places, or traditions are characteristic of fall in Michigan?

shannon-293x300Shannon Saksewski is a life-long resident of Michigan. Professionally, she is a healthcare strategist focusing on consumer experience and marketing.  She was trained, and has experience in, psychology, social work, and business at the University of Michigan.  Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, traveling, writing, and experimenting with local beer and craft cocktails.  Connect with Shannon on Twitter (@ssaksews), or LinkedIn.