A Step-by-Step Guide to Experiencing ArtPrize 2014 in Grand Rapids

ArtPrize 2014 kicks off in just a couple of weeks! Grand Rapids will hum with creative energy across three square miles of downtown as artists and visitors from around the world flock to display and view the artwork.

Photo courtesy of Experience GR

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

This world’s largest art competition boasts more than 4500 artists at 515 venues! If you’re heading to the event for the first time or want to see more of what the area has to offer, use this step-by-step guide for experiencing ArtPrize from Experience Grand Rapids.

The sixth year of ArtPrize®, held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, returns September 24-October 12. The largest art competition in the country will feature over 1,500 international works of art throughout a three square mile area. What truly sets ArtPrize apart though is the fact your vote helps select one of the winners of the $200,000 grand prize.

To help make your ArtPrize experience the best it can be, we’ve gathered the top five insider tips from experienced ArtPrize visitors both in and outside of Grand Rapids.

Plan Your Day

Stick-to-it-tive-ness Richard Morse 2012

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Visit the ArtPrize website to see all 1,536 entries and start planning your “must see” exhibits. If you have an iPhone, iPad or Android device, download the ArtPrize app to search for specific entries or discover art near you when you come to town. You can also vote through the app-no need to wait in line! If you can swing it, plan more than one day to visit. Grand Rapids is home to many hotels downtown and in outlying areas to meet your overnight needs.

Pick a Parking Spot

Getting to ArtPrize early in the day will give you the most parking options. There are many downtown surface lots to choose from, and the Monroe Center Ramp provides one free hour of parking if you arrive between 8 am and 6 pm. Downtown parking meters are free after 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and most meters are free Saturdays while all are on Sundays. Don’t carry change in your pocket? Create an account to pay for parking via your cell phone.

Bus in

Why drive your car into the city, when you can leave it at participating Meijer stores and ride the bus!? Starting September 17, you can pick up two ArtPrize wristbands for only $5 at participating Meijer stores.  These wristbands give you unlimited rides on all Rapid, DASH and Silver Line buses all 19 days of ArtPrize. Wristbands are also available at the HUB and all Exhibition Centers.

Avoid the Crowds…or Not

Photo by Amanda Baarmen

Photo by Amanda Baarmen

The early bird gets the worm and fewer people on the streets at ArtPrize. Getting to ArtPrize early especially on day one not only helps you beat the crowds, you may even get to meet a few of the artists and speak to them about their work. Another way to manage the crowds is to visit Monday-Thursday when crowds are significantly less. And if you are a member of Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) you can get into GRAM two hours before the public to see nearly 20 ArtPrize entries.

But there is also an upside to additional people; especially when many are in town for the same reason. Being surround by likeminded people enjoying art, Grand Rapids and such a unique event can add energy and excitement to your day. Instead of “fighting the crowds,” soak in the amazing vibe of ArtPrize as you wander around the city and take it all in.

Explore ArtPrize

There are many ways to discover ArtPrize. To take any guesswork out of your day, download a self-guided tour for families and small groups available August 29. Speaking of groups, it’s a good idea to tour in smaller groups of two to four. Having fewer people to keep together makes it easier to get around. Then make plans with a larger group at a restaurant downtown to compare notes!

Another helpful tip is to bring your bicycle. Bikes make it easier to get to outlying venues and simply see more art since you can get from one venue to another that much quicker. You can also park a bit farther out of the city and ride in to avoid any parking jams.

Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and clothes to ensure you can access any venue. It’s also a good idea to bring a sweater or dress in layers. The weather can be a bit unpredictable near the lakeshore!

Time to Eat

Brewery Vivant - Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Brewery Vivant – Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

While you are enjoying the cultural feast, it’s easy to forget to eat physical food. Luckily, with over 100 restaurants in the downtown area, finding a place for a bite and a beverage isn’t too hard.

Since Grand Rapids is Beer City USA, stop into one of the many brewpubs for a pint and a nice little lunch. Or grab something to go and eat outside in front of your favorite outdoor art.

Whichever way you decide to spend your time at ArtPrize, remember there is no one way to visit ArtPrize. Make the experience yours and have a blast.

Have you been to ArtPrize? Tell us your helpful tips and tricks for first-time ArtPrize visitors.

Pure Michigan September 2014 Events Roundup

September will soon be upon us, and with it, the sights, sounds and smells of fall. From great events like Grand Rapid’s ArtPrize to the ever popular Grand Haven Salmon Festival, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the month of September. 

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

Week of September 1-7

Arts, Beats & Eats
August 29-September 1, Royal OakArtsBeatsandEats
Oakland County’s premier entertainment festival which draws nearly 400,000 people to experience more than 200 juried art exhibitors, 50 restaurants and 200 performances on 10 stages downtown Royal Oak. 5K/10K and Zumbathon events on the morning of August 30 presented by Priority Health.  Admission fee for festival and events..

Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk
September 1, Saint Ignace
Join thousands of walkers and make the 5-mile trek across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge! Walkers can begin walking at 7am and can start up until 11am. The annual trek across the 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge occurs on Labor Day, the only day of the year pedestrians are allowed on the bridge. Walkers begin in St. Ignace at the north end of the Bridge and walk south. The walk is one-way, and bus transportation is available to return you to St. Ignace until 2:30pm. You can also park your vehicle in the parking lot of the Little Bear East Arena and be shuttled to and from the start line for the bridge walk. For additional information, visit the website link.

Hispanic Festival
September 5-6, Grand Rapids
Join the celebration of the Hispanic cultures with continuous entertainment for all ages, delicious food from many regions, beverage tent, a mercado featuring traditional and artisan wares, a 3v3 Futsal tournament (Saturday), and children’s crafts and activities.

The Super Run
September 6, Ann Arbor
The Super Run is a super hero themed family friendly fun run coming to Ann Arbor! There will be activities, giveaways, and lots of fun! Each participant receives Super Hero Swag with their registration including a Super Run cape, Super Run silicone bracelet and temporary tattoo.

Selfridge Air Show
September 6-7, Harrison Township Blue Angels
The highest-flying free show in the Motor City returns to the skies of Macomb County this September. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, led by Clinton Township native Commander Tom Frosch, will headline the 2014 Selfridge open house and Air Show at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, Saturday and Sunday, September 6-7. The show will feature a wide assortment of military aircraft and equipment displays, along with a number of civilian acrobatic aerial performances. Admission to the show on the military base is free and the parking is free.

Week of September 8-14

Motown Summer Cruise
September 10, Detroit
Savor the sweet sounds of Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Jackson 5, The Temptations, The Four Tops, and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, here in the city where it all happened! Dance the night away while enjoying classic cuisine and cocktails as we cruise between the Detroit and Windsor skylines. Join our crew this summer for an absolutely unique Detroit experience. Event will be featuring the KGB Motown Review.

Beerfest at the Ballpark
September 12, Lansing
The fall festival will be held on Jackson Field at Thomas M Cooley Law School Stadium under the stadium lights. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste more than 250 craft beers, ciders, and meads from over 50 Michigan breweries all while enjoying the ballpark’s atmosphere. The festival will feature live music. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door and include entry, a logoed tasting glass, and 10 tasting tickets. Special VIP Tickets may be purchased for $40 in advance and include early entry to the festival at 5pm, a logoed tasting glass, and 15 tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets will be available for purchase on the day of the event. A $10 designated driver ticket may also be purchased.

Grand Haven Salmon Festivalsalmonfestival
September 12-14, Grand Haven
The 11th Annual Grand Haven Salmon Festival features live jazz music; Michigan tasting pavilion (ID required for wine/beer tasting) featuring Michigan’s top wineries and grape stomping; gourmet salmon cook-off contest; fall harvest beer & entertainment pavilion; downtown merchant market; fine art fair on the waterfront; Big King Salmon fishing contest with weigh-in/awards ceremony; mouth-watering food and beverage treats at the Fresh Catch Fish Boil; Grand Haven historic displays through the Tri-Cities Museum; hands-on children’s nature-themed arts & crafts activities; and educational, environment-focused exhibits, displays, workshops—and more!

Dirty Dash
September 13, Mount Morris
The Dirty dash is a mud-run obstacle course where a military boot-camp meets your inner five-year-old’s fantasy and subsequently converts boy to man and then man to swine. You’ll need endurance to trudge up mountains of sludge, courage to overcome uncompromising obstacles, a complete lack of shame to wallow in pits of mud, and a smile to show through at the end! Go solo or with some of your dirtiest, filthiest, and uncouth friends.

Harbor Springs Fall Cycling Classic
September 13, Harbor Springs
For over 20 years this ride has been a favorite of cyclists from all over the state. The semiannual tour, held in spring and fall, has three distance routes to choose from (20 miles, 44 miles, or 60 miles), great refreshment stops, and a great lunch at the finish. Registration and admission fee required. Weekend lodging packages are available.

Week of September 15-21

Frankenmuth Oktoberfest 2014
September 18-21, Frankenmuth
Head to Frankenmuth for the annual Oktoberfest celebration! A fun and memorable German festival with a large wooden dance floor for dancing and demonstrations. Great food, drinks, and souvenirs. Located in the Harvey Kern Pavilion in Heritage Park.

Toyota Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship
September 18-21, Escanaba
The culmination of the Bassmaster Elite Series season, this tournament will determine the 2014 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year. Surrounded by a full slate of fan activities, from daily takeoffs and weigh-ins to Bassmaster Elite Series Expo.

Old Town BluesFest
September 19-20, Lansing
The Old Town BluesFest is a two-day free music festival that brings national, regional, and local acts to an audience of roughly 7,000 people from across Michigan and nearby states. The Old Town BluesFest takes place in the streets of Old Town Lansing, at the intersection of Turner St. and E. Grand River Avenue. Lansing Metro Marinas will be giving half-hour tours of the Grand River on Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Porcupine Mountains Trail Run – Half Marathon & 5K
September 20, Silver City
The Porcupine Mountains are one of the largest tracts of wilderness east of the Mississippi River. The Porcupine Mountains overlook Lake Superior, the largest fresh water lake on Earth. The coastline is remote and rugged. The marathon course includes some of the most remarkable single track in the idwest and takes runners past tranquil and remote Mirror Lake and along the classic Escarpment Trail where you can almost reach out and touch soaring hawks as you overlook Lake of the Clouds. This event completes a trio of deeply inspiring trail marathon hosted by Great Lakes Endurance (Waugoshance, Grand Island, and Porcupine Mountains) offering runners the best of what Michigan and the Upper Great Lakes have to offer.

Civil War Muster
September 20-21, Holland
Make your way to Holland to remember the Civil War through a weekend re-enactment including professional re-enactors making camp and recreating battles.  This year’s all-new free admission event features two days worth of music, impressions of historical figures, performances, medical scenarios, period-style vendors, and (of course) battle. Event held at Van Raalte Farm.

Week of September 22-28

ArtPrize 2014
September 24-October 12, Grand RapidsArtPrize4
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.

DlectriCITY
September 26-27, Detroit
Detroit’s newest nighttime festival of art + light, returns this fall to present 35 local, national and international artists whose cutting edge works of art, lighting design and performance will illuminate the historic architecture of Midtown. For two electrifying evenings, Midtown Detroit will be enveloped in a sea of light as a number of artists converge on Detroit to “light up” buildings and city spaces in Midtown using various mediums that meld sci-fi technology with Victorian spectacle on a grand scale.

South Lyon Area Pumpkinfest
Pumpkinfest
September 26-28, South Lyon 
This year South Lyon’s much anticipated community event celebrates its 30th anniversary. Over the years, the event grew from a craft and antique show to a weekend-long celebration of crafts, music, community, and of course, everyone’s favorite fall product; the pumpkin.

Color Vibe 5K
September 27, Mount Morris
Get ready Flint for the most colorful fun-filled day of your life! You’ll have more color on you than your happy levels can handle! So get your friends and family stretched for this amazing color blast event where you’ll get blasted with color while you run the Color Vibe 5K. Color Vibe is here, and you’re about to get tagged! You’ll be blasted at every color station throughout this awesome 5k run.

Mighty Mac Bridge Race
September 27, Saint Ignace
The Mighty Mac Bridge Race is a certified 11 kilometer course that begins in Mackinaw City, crosses the Mackinac Bridge, winds through downtown St. Ignace, and ends at the Star Line Railroad Dock parking lot. Free busing from Star Line Railroad Dock to race start in Mackinaw City. The $40 entry fee includes Samuel Adams party and SWAG noon until 6pm, medals and division trophies, “Time to the Top” photo on bridge, free busing and local shuttle, long sleeve running shirt, Kewadin Casino package, and chipped bib timing.

Which events do you plan to check out in September? 

Ten Reasons to Participate in
“Cool Brews. Hot Eats.” 2014 in Grand Rapids

Save your appetite – Cool Brews. Hot Eats. starts on February 17, 2014! For the second year in a row, Grand Rapids chefs prepare to wow the masses with two weeks of unique menu items, off-the-wall beer and food pairings and putting a twist on eating out in Beer City USA. Here are 10 reasons to participate in this year’s event from Experience Grand Rapids

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rpaids

1. It’s year two!  In case you weren’t involved last year, Cool Brews. Hot Eats. (CBHE) was born in 2013 as a community opportunity to celebrate the rich brewing culture we’ve cultivated in West Michigan.  It’s a chance for chefs and brewers to meet in the middle and concoct wacky pairings that will truly boggle your palette.  It’s also a chance to draw attention to some restaurants that utilize beer year round.

2. Cider is in!  This year, the powers at be have also encouraged chefs to utilize the abundance of local cideries to try a menu item with hard cider.  This is truly great news if you’re gluten free or not a huge beer lover. Check out One Trick Pony’s Cider Charcuterie option.

3. There’s no pricing structure that restaurants have to follow!  During Restaurant Week in Grand Rapids, many chefs prepare amazing meals based on a decided “two-for $” price, which can limit the ingredient options for chefs and the capacity to sample for the guest.  For CBHE, you can get one collaboration item off the menu to try, and hop all over town eating as many menu features as you can handle.

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

4. On the other hand, these two weeks could be your chance to attend a full beer dinner affordably.  At an assortment of participating businesses, you can enjoy the full cooking with beer experience in five courses, aka the commitment meal.  Check out Amore Trattoria Italiana’s five course Beercentric Menu for a delicious example.

5. As part of the Grand Rapids Beer Week leading up to Winter Beer Festival, Experience Grand Rapids is excited to release the Beer City Ale Trail Map to the public!  This map features an extensive listing of the finest breweries, wineries and cideries around, so make sure you grab one when you’re ready to hit the Ale Trail.

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

6. Everybody’s doing it! The whole city is rallying behind our proud Beer City banner in the week leading up to Winter Beer Festival.  This is the second year Grand Rapids has won Beer City USA and the week warming up to it is expected to be big for beer tourism around the city and surrounding areas.

7. Tap Takeovers! These will be all over town so ask your bartender where to head next.  For example, the Mitten Brewing Co. and Our Brewing Co. will be taking over at The Green Well, who reportedly use 7-10 gallons of beer every week in their cookery!

8. Hotels are on board the beer train as well.  The Marriott Springhill Suites North is including Beer City pint glasses at check in, or check out CityFlats Hotel for a complimentary growler and fill at check-in.  Click here to check out other participating hotels.

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

9. Many of these collaborations include locally sourced, Michigan focused foods. From Bistro Bella Vita to Bobarino’s, these collaborations are another chance for local chefs to source as much as possible from the Mitten state!  Try Frank’s Kielbasa, locally smoked cheddar cheese, or the “Tim Allen” at Derby Station – a Pure Michigan Turkey burger filled with diced bacon, Derby Spice Blend, topped with Tandoori sweet potato fries, jalapeno mango aioli, avocado salsa and Mud Lake Farms mixed greens on a Little Rooster Brioche Bun.

10. There are so many great restaurants in the Grand Rapids area. Why not break up winter and try a few during these two weeks?  Click here to see a full list of participating restaurants and their menus. Try not to drool!

For more information on Cool Brews. Hot Eats. 2014 and other winter events in Grand Rapids, check out the video below.

Did you attend Cool Brews. Hot Eats. 2013? Tell us about your experience. Let us know if you’ll be at this year’s event!

Author: Lyndsay Israel originated in Northern Michigan and is now a dedicated Grand Rapids resident.  When she grows up, the plan is to teach high school English and Chemistry classes.  She writes to show how much she loves the mitten state!  Look for her articles at The Awesome Mitten and Experience GR, or follow her on Twitter @lyndsayisrael.