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.

Weird Wednesday: The Nain Rouge, a Detroit Ghost Story

The following tale is from Myths and Legends of Our Own Land by Charles M. Skinner, available free at Project Gutenberg. You can get more recent accounts of the Nain Rouge from David A. Spitzley’s spooky & excellent Mythic Detroit and a slightly humorous account called Seeing Red from Model D.

Detroit Gargoyles by The Whistling Monkey

part of a set of detroit Gargoyles

Among all the impish offspring of the Stone God, wizards and witches, that made Detroit feared by the early settlers, none were more dreaded than the Nain Rouge (Red Dwarf), or Demon of the Strait, for it appeared only when there was to be trouble. In that it delighted. It was a shambling, red-faced creature, with a cold, glittering eye and teeth protruding from a grinning mouth. Cadillac, founder of Detroit, having struck at it, presently lost his seigniory and his fortunes. It was seen scampering along the shore on the night before the attack on Bloody Run, when the brook that afterward bore this name turned red with the blood of soldiers. People saw it in the smoky streets when the city was burned in 1805, and on the morning of Hull’s surrender it was found grinning in the fog. It rubbed its bony knuckles expectantly when David Fisher paddled across the strait to see his love, Soulange Gaudet, in the only boat he could find–a wheel-barrow, namely–but was sobered when David made a safe landing.

July Michigan Event Calendar

Our Festival Summer Giveaway offers you a chance to win a pair of FREE tickets to many cool events in July & beyond. They are in the blue boxes below and all you have to do for a chance to win is be a subscriber to our email list. We'll randomly select winners all summer long, so sign up today!

Expanse by g. s. george
Expanse by g. s. george

You don’t have to travel far when you live in Michigan to find a whole lot of fun. We encourage you to support the festivals, events, cities and businesses that are making all the cool things happen around the state. So get out this summer and have some fun and create some great memories in the process. Carpe diem!!

As usual we by no means have listed all the events happening around Michigan. Add ones we missed (with links) in the comments below!

July Quotes

“Many public-school children seem to know only two dates: 1492 and 4th of July; and as a rule they don’t know what happened on either occasion. – Mark Twain

“Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.” – Mark Twain

“Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.” Henry David Thoreau

“You know, when you get your first asparagus, or your first acorn squash, or your first really good tomato of the season, those are the moments that define the cook’s year. I get more excited by that than anything else.” – Mario Batali

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” – Lewis Grizzard

Fast Facts – via Wikipedia’s July entry

  • The second half of the year commences in July
  • The birthstone for July is a red ruby
  • July was renamed for Julius Caesar… Previously, it was called Quintilis…

Pure MichiganAlso be sure to check out Pure Michigan’s July Event Round-up and our Absolute Michigan Event Calendar for more great Michigan events!

July 2 – 9
National Cherry Festival Traverse City
The National Cherry Festival features over 150 events including free air shows over the Bay, colorful parades & marching bands, music shows, sporting events, rides & carnival games on the midway, pie-eating contests, clean blue skies, warm sunshine, crowds of smiling faces, and loads of luscious cherries prepared every way you can imagine!

July 11 – 17
Common Ground Lansing
Common Ground is situated in downtown Lansing along the banks of the Grand River in Adado Riverfront Park. Common Ground is an event for all your senses. This annual celebration features an outstanding line-up of musical acts, focusing on top-level, national, contemporary music performers, scores of food vendors, and a dynamic display of outdoor interactive activities for kids. With an attractive, intimate venue, state-of-art production and a comprehensive array of patron amenities, the festival is the premier special event of the summer in the greater Lansing region. Absolute Michigan gave away a pair of tickets!

July 8 – 9
Michigan Elvisfest Ypsilanti
The world-renowned Michigan Elvisfest began in 2000 in Ypsilanti, Michigan’s Historic Depot Town. Beautiful Riverside Park is the place where Elvis fans flock by the thousands every July to pay homage to the King of Rock & Roll and to hear the most award-winning professional Elvis Tribute Artists in North America, as well as other talented Legend Tribute Artists.

July 8 – 10
Blissfest Cross Village
The 30th Blissfest Music Festival will be a celebration of music, culture, art and community featuring a world of diverse and innovative folk and roots music and dance at the Festival Farm in picturesque rural northern Michigan. It is truly a blissful musical weekend to be shared with families, friends and music-lovers of all ages. The annual event is a showcase of the many musical styles that define American roots and world music. Bluegrass, Blues, Cajun, Celtic, Folk, Jazz, Latin, Ethnic, World music and dance all share the stage.

July 9 – Aug 7
Silver Leaf Renaissance Faire Battle Creek
Neither heat, rain nor scary beast will shut their gates that hold jousting and performances and all manner of medieval fun. The Faire is also West Michigan’s premier Artisan Marketplace with over 100 vendors selling their wares and crafts, you will find everything from turkey legs to wood-carving, leather to silks, and blacksmiths to fairy wings.

July 14 – Aug 7
The Michigan Shakespeare Festival Jackson
The Michigan Shakespeare Festival has been presenting the timeless themes and glorious language of William Shakespeare since 1995, growing each year into a premier regional event that draws respected actors from across the nation, and satisfied audiences from throughout the Midwest.

July 14 – 17
Venetian Festival St. Joseph
The name implies gracious glides on a glowing river and the gentle sounds of water rippling as gondoliers pole their slender boats and sing soft love songs to couples snuggled in the bows. Such were the hot days and long nights in Venice, Italy, where Venetian Festivals started so many years ago. In St. Joseph, they still celebrate hot July days and long summer nights with boat rides and love songs and couples holding hands. The Venetian Festival on the St. Joseph River is all of that plus music, fine food and fun for all ages!

July 14 – 17
Concert of Colors Detroit
The Concert of Colors is metro Detroit’s free annual diversity music festival. It is presented by ACCESS/Arab American National Museum, New Detroit Inc. and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) with the goal of bringing together metro Detroit’s diverse communities and ethnic groups by presenting musical acts from around the world. Over its 17-year history, the festival has become a beloved highlight of metro Detroit’s summer festival season.

July 15 – 16
Michigan Storytellers Festival Flint
It’s free fun for all INSIDE the Flint Public Library. Don’t miss our master storytellers who bring the oral tradition to life. As always there will be several workshops and storytelling concerts during the day on Saturday with storytellers in concert beginning at 7PM on Friday and Saturday.

July 15
Sip of Michigan Birthday Bash Detroit
Drink Michigan and the Rattlesnake Club in Detroit are joining forces for the 2nd annual Sip of Michigan party. In addition to being Drink Michigan’s 1st birthday, the event is a benefit for Homefront Hugs, a Michigan-based organization dedicated to helping our troops, their families and our veterans. Enjoy Michigan wine, beer and spirits, food pairing stations, and live entertainment on the Detroit riverfront from 8-midnight at the Rattlesnake Club. The event is $35 and includes 35 tasting tickets and all appetizers and entertainment – Absolute Michigan has a pair of tickets for our winner!

July 16 – 17
Quake on the Lake Waterford
Over the past 10 years, the “Quake” has become on of Oakland County’s must-attend events and is the North American Inboard Hydroplane Championship. The event is the proud holder of 17 American Power Boat Association (APBA) world speed records being set in 5 different racing classes making Pontiac Lake one of the fastest one-mile race courses in the country! There’s also music from Rare Earth, the Verve Pipe and others.

July 16 – 17
Ragtime Street Fair Dearborn
Savor an American original -Ragtime music. You’ll hear Scott Joplin rags like “Maple Leaf Rag” and “The Entertainer” along with  much, much more as scores of other musicians travel from all over the country to perform on nearly a dozen stages throughout Greenfield Village. It’s syncopated, jazzy, hot and live. Fresh summer food, too, and dancing in the streets!

July 20 – 23
Ann Arbor Street Art Fair Ann Arbor
Established in 1960, the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair is the Original of the now four award-winning Ann Arbor Art Fairs: The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original, The State Street Area Art Fair, The Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair and the Ann Arbor’s South University Art Fair. Together, the fairs attract over a half a million attendees from across the nation. The Original Fair was named the Number One Art Fair in the country by AmericanStyle magazine readers survey (October 2004) and has made the Top Ten Fairs and Festivals list every year since.

July 21 – 23
Taste of Kalamazoo Festival Kalamazoo
Every year, on the fourth weekend of July, thousands of hungry festival-goers flock to downtown Kalamazoo to enjoy the endless variety of foods prepared by Kalamazoo’s most popular eateries. More than 30 local restaurants and chefs will offer mouth-watering combinations of ethnic items, family favorites, exotic dishes, and local specialties along with music and all kinds of family fun – Our Festival Summer giveaway includes $10 in tasting tickets!
July 22 – 24
Hiawatha Music Festival Marquette
The Hiawatha Festival is the only event of its size and scope in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Without Hiawatha, local performers and fans would have to travel between four and six hours to the nearest festivals of its size and type. Each year’s event features traditional-music styles that include bluegrass, old-time, Cajun, Celtic, acoustic blues and folk – including singer/songwriters – and dance. Mainstage acts include nationally known performers as well as regional and local favorites. Absolute Michigan will be giving away a pair of tickets through Festival Summer so stay tuned!

July 22 – 23
Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival Ypsilanti
The Summer Beer Festival is the Michigan Brewers Guild’s oldest and largest of our four annual festivals. The festival takes place outside in a lovely riverside setting and will feature more than 300 different beers from more than 50 different Michigan breweries. A variety of tasty food items are available for purchase from independent food vendors inside the festival and there will be a diverse selection live music from a variety of local bands.

July 23 – 24
Thunder Over Michigan Air Show Ypsilanti
The Yankee Air Museum’s annual at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti welcomes back the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels in 2011. The show also features the USAF F-16 Viper East Demo Team, realistic re-enactments, Vietnam era aerial dog fight aircraft display and tours including the revolutionary MV-22 Osprey and over two dozen F/A-18 Hornets from across the country. A pair of general admission tickets could be yours!

July 26 – 31
Traverse City Film Festival Traverse City
The Traverse City Film Festival has grown to become one of the largest film festivals in the Midwest, and one of the most respected in the country. Last year, there were over 80,000 admissions to nearly 100 screenings, a number of them U.S. or world premieres. A special emphasis is given to foreign films, American independents, documentaries, and films which have been overlooked but deserve the attention of a public starved to see a good movie.

July 29 – 31
Yale Bologna Festival Yale
Every July Yale plays host to the Yale Bologna Festival, a 3 day weekend event that closes the streets and transforms this small community of just under 2,000 to a gathering of over 20,000 Bologna starved party-goers! A tradition in Yale since 1989, this festival has grown considerably since its humble beginnings. The festival draws people from all around Michigan as well as other states, eager to see who will be the next King and Queen of Bologna. The Bologna Festival includes such events as the famed outhouses races, a street dance, fireworks and a parade down Main Street that continues to grow each year.

July 29 – Aug 7
Coast Guard Festival Grand Haven
The United States Coast Guard has a long and prestigious history in Grand Haven and around the world. Celebrate the Coasties with activities, events, and attractions for all ages. Many are free, and you will find plenty of fun and choices from Kid’s Day to the Street Dance and Cruise-In Car Show, to carnival rides, picnics, parades, fireworks and ship tours.

July 30 & 31
Maker Faire Detroit Dearborn
Motor City becomes Maker City with over 300 exhibiting makers, demonstrations, hands-on workshops, music & vendors. From robotics, electronics, and rockets to food and fashion finds – if it’s made, there’s a good chance it’ll be at Maker Faire! The 2 day event at the The Henry Ford in Detroit is an interactive and family-friendly showcase of creativity and cool technology that takes the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset to the next level. We have a pair of passes to give away through Festival Summer, so stay tuned!

July 30 – 31
Art On The Rocks Marquette
Located in a beautiful wooded area on the shore of Lake Superior in north Marquette, the annual Art On The Rocks at Presque Isle Park features a huge variety of artwork in all media for show & sale.

Even the Ghosts are Gone

Jeff Westover put together this great montage of photographs from the greater Irish Hills area with the music of The Buzzrats from Ann Arbor to start off Halloween week on Absolute Michigan. (Buzzrats on MySpace)

Spotlight: Arts, Beats & Eats – Festival of Hope, Sept 4 – 7 Pontiac

Arts, Beats & Eats is excited to add to its name, mission and purpose in 2009. The festival is now called Arts, Beats & Eats – Festival of Hope and is excited to announce new changes and partners for the 2009.

Arts, Beats & Eats will still feature The HealthPlus Art Fair, one of the top art shows in the US, incredible food, more than 125 bands on six stages, and dynamic and interactive fun for the kids

Arts, Beats & Eats was founded to celebrate the quality of life in Oakland County by offering a culturally unique presentation of artists, musicians and food exhibits, from the Metro Detroit area, and throughout the United States.

The festival was designed to provide outstanding family entertainment at a very low cost, and will add a $2 admission fee to the festival and all concerts, but will balance the extra fee by offering lower costs for parking, food and beverages items, and other value incentives throughout the weekend including free admission on Friday. See their great values page.

Proceeds from the admission fee at Arts, Beats & Eats will be distributed among several key Metro-Detroit charities by the Arts, Beats & Eats Foundation. For a list of non-profit partners that will share their admission fee, click here. To date, over $2 million raised by Arts, Beats & Eats has been donated to charity.

This years festival will feature new cultural programs including the Oakland County Summer Arts Project, performances by Detroit Chamber Winds and Eisenhower Dance, and interactive Arts & Crafts from Metro Parent Magazine.

Arts, Beats & Eats is also excited about a new partnership with DPTV and PBS as sponsor of their kids zone, and the return of their partnership with ITC and their greenways initiative.

Now entering its twelfth year, Arts, Beats and Eats has celebrated many successes, including attracting large crowds each year, earning top rankings for its juried fine arts show, securing top national entertainment, and providing unique interactive programs for the family. Past music performers at Arts, Beats & Eats have included Brian McKnight, Montgomery Gentry, Live, The B52′s, Collective Soul, Paul Rodgers of Bad Company, Martina McBride, Rick Braun, David Benoit, Jodee Messina, Blues Traveler, 38 Special, Rick Springfield, and many more. The festival has something to offer to everyone, in a child-friendly, safe and secure environment.

Location and Directions

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Road Trip: The Michigan Challenge Balloonfest in Howell

If you’re looking for something to raise your spirits, lift your eyes to this Road Trip courtesy Michigan in Pictures! For more on the destination, head over to Absolute Michigan keyword Howell and be sure to scroll down for a very cool time lapse video!

Pics 126

Pics 126, photo by m7k7k7.

The annual Michigan Challenge Balloonfest takes place this weekend – June 26-28, 2009. It’s the state championship of hot-air ballooning and in addition to a sky full of balloons, offerings include three entertainment venues, a carnival, classic car show, medieval village and skydiving shows. 2009 is the 25th anniversary:

“Twenty-five years ago, the Michigan Challenge started with a whimper and a little burner noise,” said Competition Director Dick Rudlaff. “There were only a couple handfuls of balloons that first year, all good friends who flew together often. But we managed to elbow our way into the Howell community with the help of the chamber of commerce and all their volunteers who make this a true community event to be proud of.”

Of course, the highlight of the Michigan Challenge weekend is the five scheduled balloon launches Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 6 and 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday mornings between 6 and 8 a.m. Site host is Howell Public Schools.

Here’s more of m7k7k7′s Howell Balloonfest photos (slideshow). For more, check out the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest slideshow on Flickr and also this set and this one.

Here’s a cool time lapse video:

When Ice Attacks: Saginaw Bay homes damaged

Weird Wednesday already? Nope. Huge piles of ice were pushed by NE winds into homes along Linwood Beach (just north of Bay City), forcing evacuations and causing damage. Linwood Beach residents return to find ice piled around, inside and atop their homes from the Bay City Times begins:

“I was making a grocery list in the kitchen and the next thing you know, we had this,” said Angie Hughes, nodding at the ice resting inside her kitchen.

“Once we saw the first two piles of ice coming over the seawall, we just ran,” Steve Hughes said Monday, returning to assess the damage. “I just remember hearing the kitchen window explode and the kitchen table getting thrown back.

“It was just incredible to see. It’s got to be about 50 tons of ice that came up here in less than a few minutes.”

It has some great photos from this latest ice incursion from Saginaw Bay and also from a similar incident in 1946 when Lake Huron ice devastated homes along the bay.

Motown Winter Blast aka the Detroit Winter Blast

Ice Rink by Allan M

The event started in 2005 as a tuneup to Super Bowl XL and was called the Motown Winter Blast. It’s now called Detroit’s Winter Blast and it happens February 6-8, 2009.

In what has become typical Michigan media fashion, the Detroit News fills the glass half full, dwelling on what you won’t get. They grudgingly allow that 40 musical acts, 60 restaurants and three downtown hotels (including the newly-renovated Book Cadillac) offering discounted rates to families just might make it worth the trip. Not to be out-glummed, the Freep leads with the 2 of clubs as well but does finish nicely:

detroit-winter-blast“We could have taken the philosophy, if you can’t do it the way you did it in the past, then you shouldn’t do it,” (Festival organizer John) Witz said. “We took the different philosophy. We tried to create as much magic as we can for as little cost as possible … “We are featuring more made in Michigan products this year. The wine tasting is going to be with Michigan wines,” Witz said. “The ice sculptures will have a Michigan theme.”

The festival will include ice-skating exhibitions, marshmallow roasting, ice sculptures, and an arts and crafts area. Festival-goers can skate in Campus Martius Park for free, courtesy of

The MetroPCS Dine in the D program is back. The program offers diners a 15% discount at some of Detroit’s finest restaurants. This year, the participating restaurants will each donate up to 10% of their sales (before tax) to Michigan’s Children’s Center.

MSNBC adds that a major attraction will be the ice slide at Campus Martius Park. It’s called the Arctic Blast and it opened last Friday and you can get a live look-in at it on the Campus Martius Park webcam.

More information and full schedule of performances are on the official site for the Detroit Winter Blast. If you want to see more photos, check out Detroit Winter Blast by Rohn Photos and Motown Winter Blast by Pasque.

Blogs We Dig: Black Coffee at Sunrise

Snowshoeing by nasunto
Snowshoeing by nasunto

Billed as a blog about camping, hiking, nature and Michigan with occasional sarcasm and embellishment, Black Coffee At Sunrise was recently recognized at Backpacker Magazine in their Daily Dirt section online. We think the recognition is well deserved.

Blogger Nina describes her blog:

Despite the unstable times we are facing, there is a lot to love about Michigan. Those of us who enjoy the outdoors and are fortunate enough to live in the Great Lakes State have beautiful landscapes, fascinating natural history, and four wonderful seasons to enjoy. My blog, Black Coffee At Sunrise, is an attempt to acknowledge my experiences and show appreciation for my home state and the things I love about Michigan outdoors.

As dog lovers we also dig her blog ‘Crooked Ear Chronicles‘. Check out her blogs and then get on out and enjoy what the ‘Great Lakes State‘ has to offer. No matter what time of year it is Michigan is a ‘one stop funspot’ for it’s residents and visitors!

Road Trip: Zombie Walk (for a cause)

Zombie Walk Detroit by Wigwam Jones

If you happen to suddenly find yourself surrounded by hordes of flesh eating zombies don’t be alarmed. October 26 is ‘World Zombie Day‘ and around 50 cities including Ferndale and Ann Arbor will be participating in zombie walks. Why you may ask? First of all to have fun but better yet is to help those in need. Zombies as social activists? Thats right, the walks also serve as food drives with participants and spectators being encouraged to bring non-perishable food that will be donated. Food collected from the Ferndale walk will benefit the Ferndale Food Bank and Gleaners and food from the Ann Arbor walk will benefit Food Gatherers a local food bank. Can you feel the zombie love? The third goal to the event is to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest organized walk. Whatever, why not, go for it, def encourages participation…

To get more information on the Ferndale zombie walk visit Zombie Walk Detroit

To get more information on the Ann Arbor zombie walk visit Zombie Walk A2