Perhaps it is because our winters feel so long that spring is such an exciting time in Northern Michigan. The ice finally cracks and melts, yielding to rising temperatures, and people and animals emerge from their winter slumber. It’s a much-anticipated time for local food, as well. Morels, ramps and asparagus push through snow-compacted earth…the true harbingers of spring. Outdoor farmers’ markets open, vegetables and herbs begin to appear at the grocery stores, and the nurseries are suddenly stocked.
The Sara Hardy Farmers Market, along the Boardman River in downtown Traverse City, is my absolute favorite way to experience the spring food scene in Northern Michigan! I love to browse around all the stalls to see what’s being brought to market from our neighboring farms. But there are plenty of other opportunities to find, sample and buy the season’s freshest foods. Here are some other upcoming events, ranging from small educational gatherings to big community festivals.
They all have one thing in common, though – they all celebrate this glorious time to eat in Northern Michigan!
Ongoing: Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market in Traverse City
This bustling farmers market between Cass and Union Streets is the best way to see all that is happening in the fields and forests of Northern Michigan. The market is open on Saturdays in May and Wednesdays and Saturdays in June. A do-not miss!
Off the beaten path, small group, reservations required:
Reservations required.Led by award winning Chef/Owners Jen Blakeslee and Eric Patterson of The Cooks’ House, these Saturday morning classes are an educational and delicious way to experience the region’s food scene. Each class starts at 9 a.m. at the Cooks’ House in Traverse City.
Ongoing: Farm Dinners at Cherry Basket Farm
New for 2015, private dinners will be held on the award-winning and historic grounds of Cherry Basket Farm in Omena, with a local menu created by Chef Andy Schudlich of Epicure Catering. Contact them to book your own dinner!
Ongoing: Hillside Homestead Historic Dinners
During this unique local food experience, proprietress Susan Odom will prepare a traditional menu from 1910 at her historic farmhouse in Suttons Bay. Contact her to book your own traditional farm dinner. Reservations required.
May 13: Morel Dinner at Black Star Farms
Jon Dayton is one of my favorite chefs in the region. His inspired farmstead cuisine is as beautiful as it is delicious. Check Jon’s schedule for other special dinners all through the season at The Inn at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay.
Mainstream events (any size group) Be Spontaneous!
May 15- 17: Empire Asparagus Festival
This is a quintessential small town festival celebrating the asparagus harvest. It’s also a local favorite! There’s a pig roast, an asparagus cook-off and a big tent filled with asparagus eats. (Including asparagus beer!)
Spend the day sipping the new releases and noshing on spring-inspired food pairings among the cherry blossoms in the Old Mission Peninsula wine country.
May 24: Little Fleet Kickoff Party
The Little Fleet is Traverse City’s only food truck hub, featuring eight tasty truck options. The season opener to Little Fleet’s Lot 448 event series, this lively party celebrates the region’s eight best summer beers with live music and delicious food truck fare.
June 6: Rare Bird Brewery Nest Fest
A celebration of the one-year anniversary of Traverse City’s newest microbrewery. Live music, food from the Rare Bird kitchen and tasty brews are sure to make this a fantastic event!
June 13: Leland Wine & Food Festival
In its 30th year (it’s the longest-running food festival in Michigan) this is an anchor event for the local food and wine community and a welcome summer opener.
June 20: Traverse City Wine & Art Festival
Held on the beautiful lawn of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, this big festival features 200 local wines, food from eight regional restaurants, and lots of music and art.
Taste the difference and see why Traverse City is a Condé Nast Traveler Up-and-Coming Food City as well as one of America’s five top foodie towns (Bon Apetit Magazine).
Cammie Buehler is the managing partner/co-owner of a local-foods catering company and historic farm event venue, Epicure Catering & Cherry Basket Farm. With co-owner and Chef Andy Schudlich, she works to bring contemporary local cuisine to events in and around Northern Michigan.