Chambers of Commerce

A Very Michigan Thanksgiving

Turkey by Vaughan

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and over a million Michiganians will soon be hitting the road to attend family get-togethers and enjoying annual traditions. To help get ready for the upcoming holiday we have compiled a bunch of informative and entertaining Thanksgiving related links for you to enjoy.

Online placemaking discussion via Twitter on February 29th!

Join Let’s Save Michigan  TODAY (February 29th) for a live discussion–via Twitter–with four of the nation’s leading experts on placemaking. Let’s Save Michigan advocates for policies and practices that support, revitalize, and promote Michigan’s cities and they’ve assembled an all-star team to talk about how small, inexpensive, and creative investments in public spaces can have a big impact Michigan communities.

Riverwalk by Marcus W
Riverwalk by Marcus W

  • Nate Berg: A writer and journalist currently writing for The Atlantic Cities, a publication focused on the most pressing challenges facing cities and neighborhoods.
  • Dan Gilmartin: Executive Director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League, host of WJR 760′s The Prosperity Agenda, member of the Board of Directors of the National League of Cities, and mind behind The Economics of Place.
  • Diana Lind: Urban advocate, writer, and Editor in Chief at Next American City, a non-profit and publication devoted to socially and environmentally sustainable futures for America’s cities.
  • Kathy Madden: Environmental designer and director of the Project for Public Space‘s Placemaking Education and Public Space Research and Publication programs.

To participate in the conversation, follow the hashtag #LSMplace on Twitter TOMORROW February 29 from 1:00 – 2:00 PM EST.

You can also follow their Twitter feed (@LetsSaveMich) and those of the experts: @AtlanticCities(Nate), @DPGilmartin (Dan), @NextAmCity (Diana), and @PPS_Placemaking (Kathy).

February Michigan Event Calendar

Iron Works #2 - Cranbrook by MikeRyu
Iron Works #2 – Cranbrook by MikeRyu

Our Michigan February Event Calendar shows that the more the weather tries to keep us holed up, the more ways we find to get out and have fun!! Of course, there’s still many, many more and we invite you to fill us in on other February events in the comments.

February Fast FactsWikipedia

  • Having only 28 days in common years, it is the only month of the year that can pass without a single full moon. 2012 is a Leap Year!
  • It has 29 days in leap years, when the year number is divisible by four (except for years that are divisible by 100 and not by 400 in the Gregorian calendar)
  • It is the only month of the calendar that once every six years and twice every 11 years, will have only four full 7-day weeks.
  • Its birth flower is the Viola (plant) and the Primrose.
  • Its birthstone is the amethyst.

January Michigan Event Calendar

Frankfort, Michigan Lighthouse and Beach by forestlady
Frankfort, Michigan Lighthouse and Beach by forestlady

Here’s a few highlights of the many events being held around Michigan for the month of January (be sure to click Read More to see them!). A lot of them are out in the snow for snowmobiles, skates, skis and sled dogs, but there’s also a chance to heat up with the Ann Arbor Folk Fest, Ferndale Blues and the Detroit Auto Show. The weatherman says there’s a 100% chance we didn’t get them all so please add links and information for those we missed along with reviews of ones we list in the comments below!

Fast FactsWikipedia

  • January is named after Janus (Ianuarius), the god of the doorway; the name has its beginnings in Roman mythology, coming from the Latin word for door (ianua) – January is the door to the year.
  • January’s birthstone is the garnet which represents constancy.
  • Its birth flower is the Dianthus caryophyllus or Galanthus.


“New Year’s Day is everyman’s birthday.” – Charles Lamb

“January brings the snow, makes our feet and fingers glow.” – Sara Coleridge

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell

Pure Michigan, Pure Gold?

Michigan has spent $67 million since 2006 to draw more tourists and tourist dollars to the Great Lakes State through the Pure Michigan campaign. Our friends at Bridge Magazine have taken a very interesting and in-depth look at Pure Michigan. The effort appears to be working, with industry officials & analysts pointing to an additional 2 million visitors who wouldn’t otherwise have visited according to the latest data from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Longwoods International.

These visitors have generated $605 million of additional revenue, and between 2009 and 2010, the tourism industry grew by $2 billion, enough to generate an additional 10,000 jobs in Michigan. The campaign also generated $43 million in state tax collections, creating a return on investment (ROI) of $4.32 for each dollar Michigan spent on tourism advertising. Resident leisure travel rose 6.1% to $6.3 billion, and non-resident leisure travel that Pure Michigan ads are targeting rose 21.1% to $6.4 billion, the first time non-resident spending has exceeded Michigan resident spending for leisure travel.

While the state and national economies and overall tourism spending floundered in 2009, Michigan received 2% of all the tourism spending in the United States, good for a rank of 14th nationally, a success many credit to the Pure Michigan advertising campaign. George Zimmermann, VP of Travel Michigan says:

“Most Americans know Florida, California and Hawaii. We are just the opposite. We’ve only done a national campaign for just three years, with a modest budget. Michigan also is starting from a negative image of the Rust Belt, the depressed auto industry and urban decay in Detroit. The image of the state is much more favorable after visitors have seen the Pure Michigan ads.”

We encourage you to read on at Bridge for some other thoughts on the campaign including some criticism from Michael LaFaive of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.  They have a second feature that looks at how Pure Michigan stacks up against other state tourism promotion efforts.

One thing is clear, it’s important to agree upon the numbers, because if the ROI is that high, Michigan would be foolish not to continue funding Pure Michigan.

Happy Birthday, Sault Ste. Marie Michigan

Soo Aerial by Marge Beaver
More aerial pics of Sault Ste Marie

Soo Aerial by Marge Beaver’s Day in History for October 4th says that Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan was founded on this day in 1641. Michigan History Magazine expands on this, relating that French Jesuits Isaac Jogues and Charles Raymbault held the first Christian services in Michigan at Sault Ste. Marie on that date. As you’ll see in a moment, it’s not really possible to get a date for the founding of the Soo, but everyone has to have a birthday, right?

Of course the Soo Locks are the first thing most people think of when they think of the Soo. You can see a webcam of the locks, and while your browser may have a problem with the secure certificate they use, it’s a US government certificate and site so you’re probably safe. relates that that the first lock was built way back in in 1797 by the Northwest Fur Company. It was just 38 feet long and remained in use until it was destroyed in the War of 1812, forcing boats again to portage around the rapids. Read on for much more.

The history page on on the Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan website:

Sault Ste. Marie is the oldest city in Michigan, and among the oldest cities in the United States. Over the course of history, the flags of several sovereign nations have flown over the Sault.

Over 2,000 years ago, Native Americans began to gather here for the wealth of fish and fur found along the rushing waters of the wide, turbulent river that linked the Great Lakes of Superior and Huron. Spring and fall were important seasons for these original settlers, and they called the area “Bahweting,” or “The Gathering Place.”

…In the 1600s, French missionaries and fur traders began to venture into the beautiful territory. The traders began calling the wild area Sault du Gastogne. In 1668, the legendary Jesuit missionary and explorer Fr. Jacques Marquette renamed this burgeoning European settlement Sault Ste. Marie, in honor of the Virgin Mary—the first “city” in the Great Lakes region.

While there is some debate on the exact meaning of “Sault,” scholars of early French note that the word translates into jump, referring to the place where one needs to “jump”, or put into the St. Mary’s River. This translation relates to the treacherous rapids and cascades that fall over 20 feet from the level of Lake Superior to the level of the lower lakes. Hundreds of years ago, this prohibited boat traffic and necessitated an overland portage from one lake to the other. This is how Portage Avenue, the main street running along the river, acquired its name.

Ashmun Street in 1888 courtesy Seeking Michigan

Ashmun Street in 1888 courtesy Seeking Michigan

Some other good sites for area history include Sault Historic Sites,  the History & Culture of the Sault Tribe, and Sault Ste Marie, Michigan in Wikipedia. You can get links to Sault businesses and website and also articles for the Soo at including Sault Ste. Marie: The Gathering Place, which offers more in depth history and a larger version of the photo above. Other good sites for modern day information are the Sault Area Chamber of Commerce,  Sault Ste Marie at, the Soo Evening News and the EUP News blog.

I Love the Soo on facebook!

You can see some pictures from the Soo at saultstemarie on Michigan in Pictures. Seeking Michigan has some great old photos of the Soo from the Archives of Michigan, but the best I found were from the Facebook page of I Love Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, particularly the History of Sault Ste Marie Michigan in Photographs and this gallery from Soo photographer Glenn W. Gregg. There’s also 200+ Soo photos in the Absolute Michigan group on Flickr.

If you grew up in the Soo (which I didn’t) I bet you’ll love this video featuring photos & Bob Seger’s Main Street from ILovetheSoo. While I enjoyed that one a lot, the one below features some of those great photos from Glenn Gregg.

August Michigan Event Calendar

Also see our Michigan Event Calendar, the Pure Michigan Blog’s excellent August 2011 Event Roundup and definitely sign up for our email list because we have FREE tickets (marked in light blue) to a number of the events below in our Festival Summer Giveaway!

The dog days of summer are upon us and Michigan is heating up with cool things to do. Summer is zipping by so take some time and support the many great festivals and events that our cities and communities have to offer. As usual we by no means have listed all the events happening around Michigan. Add ones we missed (with links) in the comments below!

Dog_Parade_3 by scherbis
Dog_Parade_3 by scherbis

August Quotes:

“Whilst August yet wears her golden crown,
Ripening fields lush- bright with promise;
Summer waxes long, then wanes, quietly passing
Her fading green glory on to riotous Autumn.” – Michelle L. Thieme

“August creates as she slumbers, replete and satisfied.” – Joseph Wood Krutch

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” – Sam Keen

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett

“If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?” – Steven Wright

August Wikipedia Fast Facts (link)

  • August was originally named Sextilis in Latin.
  • In the United States, August is National Goat Cheese Month.
  • The middle week of August is the peak of the Perseid meteor shower.
  • August’s birthstone is the peridot and sardonyx. The meaning is married happiness.
  • August’s birth flower is the gladiolus and poppy.

Things to Do & Places to Go!

Charlevoix Up North Fourth ~ July 2

Ed Evans won our passes to the Up North Fourth. He’s a retired engineer who maintains 2 hobby weather station websites with web cams, and He says favorite festival is Charlevoix’s Venetian festival (great fireworks!) followed closely by Gaylord’s Alpenfest (it’s his hometown – and hey, he played the “alphorn” in high school). He gave us a brief report from the festival!

My wife and I sure had a fun day! Two of my (3) sons and their wives also went with our 2 grandchildren and a few other friends. Short’s is a favorite destination of ours so having them there was a real treat. Food was good too with reasonable prices!

I spoke with Jodi from the GaGa For Kids shop here in town and learned she worked to help get this event off the ground. I stopped by her shop to say thanks to her too. (My wife has voiced her support for a winery to be included next year.)

Again, my thanks to you and Absolute Michigan for the chance to win the free tickets.


Up North Fourth on FacebookUp North FourthThe first annual Charlevoix Up North Fourth takes place next Saturday (July 2) and benefits efforts to help “Charlevoix the Beautiful” stay beautiful. It’s an authentic Northern Michigan backyard picnic experience on a grand scale featuring live music, beers from the good humans at Short’s Brewing (yum), ribs, pulled pork, potato salad, whitefish tacos, vegetarian options – all in a family friendly setting (so friendly that 5 & Under are FREE!). Absolute Michigan has a pair of passes through Festival Summer to get you celebrating in style - scroll down for entry!

Click for posterMusic at Odmark Performance Pavilion will feature Euforquestra & Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys. Delilah and the boys are from Grand Rapids and throw down Americana rockabilly tunes with a very cool vintage vibe that makes their live shows an absolute scream. You can watch this video from Euforquestra, but we’re going to have to give the nod to one of the fanciest bits of bass playing we’ve ever seen from Delilah DeWylde! (entry form below the video!)

Our winner has been notified! - to be entered in every one of our Festival Summer giveaways, just join our email list using the form below! psst: a huge package that includes other Porterhouse events is right here!

All summer long Absolute Michigan will be partnering with some of Michigan's most amazing festivals & events to give our readers FREE tickets and a chance to enjoy the food, music and celebration that is part of summertime in the Great Lakes State!

Absolute Michigan will not share your email address with anyone. Period. Your inbox is safe with us. What we will share with you is a periodic but usually no more than weekly update, possibly including a special offer, potentially a prize or giveaway and definitely some great news about what is working and fun to do in the Great State called Michigan that we love!

Waterfront Wine Festival in Harbor Springs ~ June 25, 2011

JamieAndFriends_waterfront wine festivalWaterfront Wine Festival on FacebookThe 6th annual Waterfront Wine Festival takes place on Saturday, June 25 from 4-7 PM in downtown Harbor Springs. It’s an evening of wine, food, and live local music that benefits Scenic Michigan and the Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce. You can enjoy wines from around the world and also from Michigan wineries including L. Mawby, Pleasantview Vineyards & Winery, Shady Lane Cellars, Pond Hill Farm, and Sandhill Crane Vineyards.

This year’s raffle prize is a chance to win a personal wine cellar stocked with a wonderful variety of fabulous wine from area wine shops with gift certificates for many more of your favorite vino!

Speaking of winning, Absolute Michigan has a chance for you to win a pair of passes to the Waterfront Wine Festival. To be eligible for a pair of passes and to be entered in every one of the Festival Summer giveaways, just join our email list using the form below!

All summer long Absolute Michigan will be partnering with some of Michigan's most amazing festivals & events to give our readers FREE tickets and a chance to enjoy the food, music and celebration that is part of summertime in the Great Lakes State!

Absolute Michigan will not share your email address with anyone. Period. Your inbox is safe with us. What we will share with you is a periodic but usually no more than weekly update, possibly including a special offer, potentially a prize or giveaway and definitely some great news about what is working and fun to do in the Great State called Michigan that we love!

Here’s a video from last year. Also, be sure to check out Scenic Michigan. They’re an affiliate of the national non-profit organization Scenic America headquartered in Petoskey that promotes and sponsors programs to encourage natural beauty in the environment, enhance landscapes, protect historical and cultural resources, and improve community appearance.

$1 Million Accelerate Michigan Contest!

Speed by IreJustin
Speed by IreJustin

Applications are now open for the 2011 Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition will award more than $1 million in cash winnings, plus in-kind awards of services, staffing and software to top entrepreneurial businesses and also includes a competition for college students with an idea for an innovative business.

To qualify for the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, businesses must make a commitment to locate and grow in Michigan. These companies must also be at the commercial stage of business development, past proof of concept. It’s open to businesses who operate in technology-driven sectors including alternative energy, IT, advanced manufacturing, life science, medical devices and advanced transportation.

Accelerate Michigan on Facebook!Any undergraduate or graduate student who is enrolled in at least two classes in a Michigan public or private university or college for the fall 2011 semester is eligible for the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, and student teams may also submit.

Get your applications and much more information at and check them out on Facebook. Check out last year’s winners including $500,000 winner Armune BioScence.