Have Appetite, Will Travel: A Guide to Grand Rapids Restaurant Week 2014

Restaurant Week Grand Rapids is happening August 13-24, 2014. Sixty restaurants offer three-course tasting menus featuring their culinary team’s skills and the West Michigan harvest. Molly Crist, Experience Grand Rapids blogger and Onward Travel tour operator, fills us in on this year’s RWGR highlights.

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Grand Rapidians love food, beer, wine, and getting out on the town… which makes Restaurant Week one of the best times of the year in our corner of the Mitten. It’s time to head to West Michigan and warm a restaurant seat while soaking up the waning summer because RWGR is happening Wednesday, August 13 to Sunday, August 24. Read on for highlights of this year’s event that combines creative chefs, a range of beverages, the peak of Michigan’s harvest, and summertime revelry.

Great food for a terrific value

Three-course menus are $28 per person, though you’ll find two for $28 at several restaurants: Lindo Mexico, Rezervoir Lounge, Fajita Republic and Osta’s Lebanese Cuisine. Check out Fajita Republic’s DIY guacamole – fresh haas avocados with a selection of toppings (spiced pepitas, pico de gallo, bacon, chiles, oh my!) that you can mix until your heart’s content.

Perfect timing

August is the height of harvest in West Michigan. It’s the best time of the year for farmers markets and gardeners (holy summer squash!), which means locavore chefs are smiling, too. RWGR menus celebrate the bounty and your taste buds will, too. From sweet corn, to heirloom tomatoes, to Great Lake fish, it doesn’t get any fresher.

Food and beverage pairing

Alambre_Especial1

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

This year’s theme is Perfect Pairings. GR’s reputation as Beer City USA is well established with fifteen craft breweries and more popping up all the time. The Great Lake’s ability to insulate coastal farmland, keeping it cool in summer and preventing a bitter freeze in winter, means Michigan has a climate for wine production, and fortunately many local producers are creating delicious wines. Distilleries are popping up around the state, with creative spirits growing in popularity. To celebrate Michigan’s status as a beverage-producing-triple-threat – not to mention all the carefully roasted and brewed coffees – RWGR’s theme emphasizes the art of pairing food and drink.

CitySen is featuring a Southern-Style American menu, from Fried Green Tomatoes, to Chicken and Waffles, to Pecan Pie. Try the Baby Back Ribs braised in Bell’s Oberon paired with a pint of Oberon mixed with Founders’ Rubaeus, a good complement to the fruity house-made BBQ sauce.  Bar Divani has an eclectic, flavor-forward-menu that offers an appetizer, salad, and entree – try starting with the Pulled Pork Rangoons with Sesame Chili Sauce, paired with a glass of Noel Bougrier Vouvray.

Local beverages are in the food, too!

In addition to pairing food and drink, chefs are cooking with locally-made beverages. At Grand Rapids Brewing Company, you can enjoy Michigan’s only certified organic brewery and chef-inspired, gourmet cuisine. The Brewer’s Flan on GRBC’s RWGR menu is a chocolate stout custard with cocoa nibs, salted caramel and mint, no doubt delicious with some stout in your glass, too. The Rubeaus Cheesecake at Licari’s is quite decadent, too, with Amoretti Cookie crust and a suggested pairing of Ferris Coffee Nicaraguan brew or Atwater’s Decadent Chocolate Stout.

Do good while dining

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

One dollar from each meal goes towards a scholarship fund at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College. Since 2010, RWGR participating restaurants have donated almost $75,000 to the fund. It’s all about growing our local food culture in Grand Rapids, from farms to classrooms.

Cocktail competition

Local mixologists at participating RWGR restaurants are shaking it up for the Grand Cocktail competition that debuts August 6. Mixologists will vie to win an all-expense paid trip to Woodford Reserve in Kentucky. You can participate by sipping cocktails around town and voting at restaurantweekgr.com. Start at Judson’s at the B.O.B. with a sip of their Bufala Negra, a seasonal concoction of Woodford Reserve, basil, brown sugar, ginger beer and balsamic brown sugar simple syrup. Cheers, indeed!

Be a part of the fun

Beyond the tantalizing food choices, RWGR is an annual dining highlight because of the bustling atmosphere and feeling of culinary-inspired revelry.

Take advantage of an opportunity to visit a spot that might normally be out of your price range, a newly opened restaurant, or a place you’ve never been. invite your friends and enjoy wonderful food, a bustling city, a walkable downtown with many dining choices, and al fresco dining options to make the most of the beautiful summer nights ahead.

Do you plan to check out Grand Rapids Restaurant Week? 

Pure Michigan August 2014 Events Roundup

August is quickly approaching and there’s still plenty of summertime left to get out and enjoy an outdoor adventure or fun summer festival. From racing events like the Pure Michigan 400 to star-studded concerts and the Michigan state fair, there’s something for everyone happening this month. 

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

Week of July 28th – August 3rd

wizard-of-oz-puppetsThe Wizard of Oz
August 1-2, Coldwater
Lions and Tigers and Puppets, oh my! Adapted for marionettes by Martin Stevens and Dan Raynor, children of all ages will watch with bated breath as a Kansas cyclone whisks Dorothy off to Oz. This classic heart-warming tale captures the imagination with its many beloved characters. 10 a.m. Tickets: $7 includes popcorn and juice at intermission.

Buy Michigan Now Festival
August 1-3, Northville
The Buy Michigan Now Festival is a weekend celebration of Michigan businesses and products made within the state. This family-friendly event includes tasty treats, street vendors, live music, and children’ activities, all highlighting Michigan-based businesses. Adults may also partake in local beers and wines in the Michigan Beer Garden. Admission and parking are free. For the sixth straight year, this event is set in charming downtown Northville.

Bayside Music Festival
August 2, St. Ignace
Get ready to listen or dance in downtown St. Ignace from 4pm till who-knows-when, when a series of bands dazzle the crowds and keep the light-a-foot busy. Family games, a beer, wine and soft drink tent, food concessions and more are available as the live music plays. It’s all happening in the city marina parking lot, with fireworks on display at dusk! Admission: $5 per person, and FREE for children five years of age and younger!

Boats on the Boardwalk
August 2, Traverse City
Featuring 50 boats, circa 1900 through current wooden classics. Boats on display usually include high-powered mahogany runabouts, hydroplanes, outboards, vintage engines, powered launches, wooden canoes, and rowboats. Live musical entertainment and lunch available. Event held along the Boardman River boardwalk in Traverse City. Admission is free.

Copperman Triathlon
August 2, Copper Harbor
1900 through current wooden classics. Boats on display usually include high-powered mahogany runabouts, hydroplanes, outboards, vintage engines, powered launches, wooden canoes, and rowboats. Live musical entertainment and lunch available and admission is free!Get ready for a half-mile swim in the brisk waters of Lake Fanny Hooe, a 23-mile bike ride along the shore of Lake Superior, and a five-mile run past the end of US Highway 41. Race starts at the boat ramp of Fort Wilkins State Park, just east of Copper Harbor, Michigan. An $11 Recreation Passport is required for entering State Parks, Recreation Areas, State Forest Campgrounds, Non-motorized Trail Head Parking and Boat Launches. Recreation Passports can be purchased when renewing your State of Michigan license plate tabs or at state parks and recreation areas.

Week of August 4th – 10th

Michigan Pirate Festival
August 4-10, Grand Haven
Join in celebrating the Michigan Pirate Festival’s eighth year in western Michigan this August 4-10, 2014, in Grand Haven, Michigan, at Loutit District Library and at Harbor Island. This year’s event will include pirate hunters, re-enactors, literary and fantasy characters, encampments, and pirates from more eras than ever before. Come out and see for yourself what the excitement is all about!

Kalamazoo Ribfest
August 7-9, Kalamazoo
Features national and local rib vendors that sell ribs and chicken in outstanding barbeque sauces. To complement the rib vendors, additional food vendors will be offering side items and sweet treats to top off the food experience at Ribfest. Music from national rock and country artists will be on scene, along with local bands and plenty of fun activities. Tickets for Ribfest are now available online so you can avoid waiting in long lines!

Sparta Celtic Festival
August 9, Sparta
The Sparta Celtic Festival is a free, family friendly event focused on the expression of Celtic heritage. The festival offers music, food, and merchants with a Celtic focus while featuring two stages filled with music and dancing. The children’s area offers activities for kids of all ages. This year, the festival is celebrating a 5th anniversary, and will be launching new attractions, including the Celtic Tens Rugby Tournament, High Tea House and more!

Cheeseburger in Caseville
August 8, Caseville
Head to Caseville for some serious summer family fun! Cardboard boat races, hat making, music and cheeseburgers are just a few of the many things going on this year. Musical entertainment will be in the park and the parade of tropical fools will be happening on Wednesday, August 13  at 6 p.m.

 Week of August 11th-17th

Upper Peninsula State Fair
August 11-17, Escanaba
Head north for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula State fair! Held in Escanaba at the Fair Grounds, make sure you come enjoy all the great events, entertainment and racing! This Upper Peninsula fair is something that you won’t want to miss, so put it on your calendar today!

BlueberryPieWild Blueberry Festival
August 15-17, Paradise
Each year during the third weekend in August, Paradise celebrates a part of its local heritage—wild blueberries. An art fair, entertainment, kid’s craft tent, and wonderful local food showcase the festivities. The celebration also includes informative programs of music, nature, and local history lore. There is an activity and delight for everyone in the family!

BBQ Dinner Sail
August 15, Bay City
Set sail on this family friendly voyage aboard the Appledore IV for a fun and relaxing evening of cruising along the Saginaw River and Bay. While on board, guests will enjoy a delicious andcasual barbecue meal catered by one of Saginaw’s local restaurants. All sails are rain or shine. Sails every Friday, August 15 to September 26, 2014, 6-9 p.m. Departs from downtown Bay City, Wenonah Park.

Woodward Dream Cruise
August 16, Metro Detroit
With more than 50,000 muscle cars, street rods, custom, collector and special interest vehicles on display, the Motor City definitely shifts into cruise mode for the Woodward Dream Cruise, an all-star display of car culture. Taking place along a 16-mile stretch of legendary Woodward Avenue on August 16, 2014, the event guides muscle cars, street rods, custom, collector and special interest vehicles through eight host communities including Berkley, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, Pontiac and Royal Oak, in Southeast Michigan.

NascarPure Michigan 400 NASCAR Spring Cup Series
August 17, Brooklyn
The 2014 racing season concludes with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400. The Sprint Cup Series stars always end the MIS season with an exciting finale, featuring many lead changes and exciting finishes. With great camping, affordable adult prices, special kids pricing, free parking and the ability to bring a bigger cooler with your favorite food and beverages, MIS is the perfect way to end your summer race season!

St. Ignace History Week
August 17-22, Saint Ignace
Join the town of Saint Ignace as they pay special tribute to their rich history during this 6-day event. Fort de Buade Indian Museum and the Museum of Ojibwa Culture will offer special presentations, community walking tours, and much, much more! Native American singing, geocaching and a variety of other events will all occur during this celebration.

Week of August 18th-24th 

Tecumseh’s Classic Car & Bike Show
August 21, Tecumseh
Get your motor running and head to Tecumseh to see over 200 cars and motorcycles on display in the United Bank & Trust Hickman Financial Center parking lot. This family friendly event is something car and bike lovers won’t want to miss!

Movies on the Beach
August 22, Muskegon
Come join us on the shores of Lake Michigan for “Finding Nemo” with pre-movie music beginning around 8pm and the film will begin around dusk (around 9:30pm). So bring your beach chairs and blankets and come on down to Pere Marquette Park for this free community event!

Eminem and Rihanna Concert
August 22-23, Detroit
Two of music’s biggest superstars, Eminem and Rihanna, will be joining forces this summer for a series of co-headlining stadium shows when they launch “The Monster Tour” including Detroit’s Comerica Park in August for two nights.

Traverse City Summer Microbrew and Music Festival
August 22-23, 2014
Lovers of craft beer, world music and local harvest won’t want to miss the annual Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival in the historic trees and on the front lawn of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Ticket buyers must be 21 years of age or older.

fudge.festivalMackinac Island Fudge Festival
August 22-23, Mackinac Island
While fudge was not invented on Mackinac Island, Mackinac Island’s fudge has become the most popular fudge in America. This festival celebrate the creamy goodness with events such as Dining Under the Influence of Fudge, Fudge on the Rocks, Michigan Craft Brew Beer Tastings, Great Turtle Slow Ride, and the coveted “Daddy, I Want the Golden Ticket” vacation giveaway.

 

Week of August 25th – 31st

The Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinac Bicycle Tour
August 27-31, East Lansing
The Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinaw Bicycle Tour, which is a nationally known bicycle camping tour, was originated in 1971 by former State Representative Dick Allen of Ithaca. All routes will begin at the MSU Pavilion in East Lansing and follow country roads whenever possible to attempt to provide the safest, most scenic routes between campgrounds. DALMAC is open to individuals, families, and all capable, interested bicyclists. Riders under the age of 18 must be accompanied by their parent or responsible adult who must ride with them. DALMAC riders are given special permission to ride bicycles across the Mackinac Bridge.

Street Beats
August 28, Boyne City
Come to Street Beats in August to shake it up! Continuing on with a popular 30-year tradition–Dancing in the Streets (Street Beats) brings out nearly 400 people. You’ll have a ball as you shake and move at this popular Boyne City event!

Michigan Peach Festival
August 28-September 1, Romeo
The Michigan Peach Festival of Romeo includes parades, sports, carnival rides, craft show, food and fun for the whole family over five days around Labor Day weekend in downtown Romeo. The Romeo Peach Queen reigns over this popular annual celebration of summer with a wide variety of events from dawn to dusk each day. Festival begins Thursday before Labor Day and runs through Labor Day.

Arts, Beats, and Eats
August 29 – September 1, Royal Oak
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. Admission fee.

Fifth Third Bank Michigan State Fair
August 29-September 1, Novi
This year’s State Fair will include an expanded Midway, live entertainment, the ever-popular racing pigs, livestock and home arts exhibits, the state of Michigan Butter Cow, special performances by the Detroit Shrine Circus, Made in Michigan Pavilion, tasty carnival treats, and much more!

Michigan Bison Bash
August 30, Levering
Grab the whole family and stampede your way up to Levering for the Michigan Bison Bash! This exciting and unusual event will feature a kid’s fun area, buffalo ranch tours, food, games, live music, beer tents, vendors and displays, and a live buffalo calf to pet! This is an event that will be unforgettable for the whole family!

Which events will you be at next month? 

Five Tips for Attending Ann Arbor’s Art Fair

The Ann Arbor Art Fair hits downtown Ann Arbor this July 16th-19th. With the work of 1,000 artists on display, there is a lot of ground to cover if you want to see it all! Today, Maricat Eggenberger provides some helpful tips for navigating the fair. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 10.42.26 AM

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

This July 16-19, the Ann Arbor downtown will be transformed with over 1,000 juried artists featuring their artwork from all over the country. If you have ever attended the Ann Arbor Fair, you understand the diversity of art work represented and the lively atmosphere of Ann Arbor’s downtown and campus streets.  If you haven’t attended before, we hope you’ll make a trip to see what the Ann Arbor Art Fair is all about. We’ve crafted a list of our top 5 insider tips for before and during your visit to the Ann Arbor Art Fair, one of the largest outdoor art fairs in the United States.

Getting to the Fair & Parking: Parking for the Art Fair is very easy and inexpensive if you choose to use the Park and Ride Options available. Simply park at Huron High School, Maple Village Shopping Center, Pioneer High School or Briarwood Mall.  There are shuttles that will take you right downtown to the fair! For more information on the pick-up locations and ticket costs, check out the Art Fair Parking and Shuttle page.  Getting to Ann Arbor during the next few months may be met with navigational challenges if you don’t plan ahead. Orange construction barrels can be seen along most area roads indicating lane closures, and in some cases complex detours. Our local news outlet, the Ann Arbor News, has been doing an excellent job of keeping us up-to-date, but you can also check out Michigan’s Department of Transportation site for a detailed map including current and future construction plans.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Navigating the Fair: The best way to navigate the fair is to make sure you are armed with an Art Fair map.  Maps can be found on the Art Fair website. In addition, Art Fair guides are available at all welcome booths found throughout the fair.

Engage with the Fair: This year you have the opportunity to engage with the fair through Social Media!  Follow the Fair on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and then through your engagement you could be the winner of some great Art Fair throwback gear! Use the hashtag #ArtFairTBT when sharing your old photos from your trips to the Art Fair to enter. During your visit be sure to share your photos of your awesome art finds, delicious dining excursions and fun adventures using the hashtags #AnnArborArtFair and #VisitAnnArbor!

Ann Arbor Art Fair - Social MediaExperience the Art Fair Entertainment: In addition to the streets of booths to enjoy, the Art Fair also has live entertainment scheduled for during and after fair hours! Also, don’t forget to check out the Cooling Misting Station and the Art Activity Zones!  For more details on the musical performances and fun activities, check out the full schedule.

Plan Ahead: July in Ann Arbor can reach high temperatures, plan ahead with water bottles, cool and light clothing and watch the forecast for chances of rain.

Maricat EggenbergerMaricat Eggenberger is the Communications Manager for the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She’s a proud Michigander that loves traveling, anything eco-friendly and the little adventures in life.