Monday, November 26, 2018

Winter Events 2018-19

While the winter solstice doesn't happen until December 21, it's already looking a lot like winter in Kalamazoo.  (Perhaps the meteorological definition of the season makes more sense.)  Right now, it looks like weather for skiing, sledding, or skating is about here.  Whatever your preferred definition, a variety of local festivals celebrate the season.

Winter Events near Kalamazoo
December 1, 2018 Traditional Holiday celebration Celery Flats, Portage 
December 8, 2018 13th annual Candy Cane Hunt Mayors Riverfront Park Kalamazoo
December 8, 2018 Local Gift Fair  9 am -4 pm Kalamazoo Nature Center Kalamazoo 
December 1-23, 2018 (weekends) Zoo Lights Binder Park Zoo Battle Creek
December 31, 2018 New Year's Eve Fest Kalamazoo
January 11-20 2019 Kalamazoo Beer Week Kalamazoo

January 24-27, 2019
Winterfest Grand Haven
February 1-3, 2019  Icebreaker  South Haven

February 15 -18,  2019  Great Backyard Bird Count

February 16-17, 2019 Free Fishing Winter Weekend throughout Michigan

February 22-23, 2019 Winter Beer Festival Grand Rapids

March 2, 2019 Quietwater Symposium East Lansing

Ongoing events
International Festival of Lights Battle Creek November -December
          Dutch Winterfest Holland
Millennium Park Skate Rink opens when weather permits Portage
          Christmas Bird Count

See also

OptOutside  An alternative to hitting the malls on Black Friday

Discover Kalamazoo's event listing
Gazelle Sports Races and running calendar

11 Unforgettable Winter Places in Michigan

West Michigan Winter Weekends

Sarrett Nature Center's Event list Benton Harbor

The DNR has calendars of events for State Parks and Recreation Areas.

Events from Pure Michigan  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Fall 2018 events

Like it or not, Summer will end soon.  Fortunately, Fall is still great for outdoor activities around Kalamazoo.  Warm days and cool nights are perfect weather for camping or paddling.   Colorful leaves make it a great time to take a walk in the woods or to explore a local bike trail.   Sandhill Cranes gather in West Michigan before they migrate south for the season.  Area festivals celebrate Labor Day, fall harvests, fish, art, and birds.
Fall events around Kalamazoo

September 3-5 Lawrence Ox Roast Lawrence

September 3 West Michigan Labor Fest Grand Rapids

September 7-9  Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival Paw Paw

September 14-15 Grand Haven Salmon Festival Grand Haven

September 19-October 7 Art Prize Grand Rapids

September 22-29  Michigan Trails Week

September 22 Eco Raft RacKalamazoo

September 22 Fall Festival St. Joseph

September 29-30 Oktoberfest Grand Rapids

October 13 BontebokOktoberfest Binder Park Zoo  Battle Creek 

October 13-14 Cranefest Bellevue

October 12-14 Fennville Goose Festival Fennville

October 20-21 Arts and Eats Tour  Hastings, Middleville, Hickory Corners, and surrounding areas

October 18-21, 25-28 Zoo Boo Binder Park Zoo  Battle Creek 

November 10 Holiday Parade 11am- 12:30pm Kalamazoo

Also consider:

Southeast Michigan Labor Day events from MetroParent

Labor Day Weekend Events for Metro Detroit (Oakland County Moms)

Mackinac Bridge Walk
5 Spots to Sip Cider, Pick Pumpkins, and Soak up Fall from Discover Kalamazoo
Fall Scenic Drives from Pure Michigan

Fall recommendations from 52 Michigan Weekends

Fresh apple cider from VerHages Cider Mill.

Fall walks and rides on the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail

Event listings from Discover Kalamazoo

Gazelle Sports' calendar of West Michigan Races and Events

League of Michigan Bicyclist's Michigan Ride Calendar

Michigan Festivals and Events Association Events browser

Sarrett Nature Center's Event list Benton Harbor
Events from Pure Michigan 
The DNR has calendars of events for State Parks and Recreation Areas.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Paddle boarding at Ramona Park, Portage MI

My daughter was interested in trying standup paddle boarding (SUP) this summer and there are plenty of places to try it in West Michigan.  South Beach in South Haven has a rental spot right on the beach but, when we visited last week, Lake Michigan was really cold (only little kids would stay in the water) and, on an earlier trip, it was much too windy. (Kiteboarders were literally flying.)

I wanted a smaller, calmer, and preferably warmer lake.  Kzoo Kids suggested Ramona Park in Portage, which had the added advantage of being much closer to home.  Park admission was free for Portage residents ($10 per car for non-residents) and board rental was $12 for an hour.

Getting into a standing position on the board was easier than I expected and staying upright wasn't too hard.  I fell off in the first minute but stayed on the board after that.  Perhaps I should have read some Stand Up Paddle Board instructions before we went, but it felt okay figuring it out on our own.

We started by paddling with the wind, which was really easy.  The breeze was strong enough that we'd move along nicely, even without paddling.

The breeze, of course, worked against us when we turned back.  I had been paddling for a few minutes before I realized I was making no progress at all.  To actually go forward required much faster paddling or kneeling down on the board to cut wind resistance.  Kneeling was much less comfortable, but it did work.

That's pretty much how we spent our hour-- great paddling downwind, then struggling upwind.    Overall it was reasonably fun.  My daughter really enjoyed it and I'd do it again, but perhaps on a calmer day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Summer Events 2018

As the solstice approaches, Michigan moves to full Summer mode with biking, canoeing, hiking, and camping and beachtime at Lake Michigan.  

Summer events near Kalamazoo

June 20 Free Parks Day  Kalamazoo County

June 28-July 4 Balloon Festival Battle Creek

July 20-22  Old Tyme Tractor Show Scots

August 9-12  54th annual Blueberry Festival South Haven

August 24-26 Hastings Summerfest Hastings

Also consider:
Long weekend suggestions from Pure Michigan

50 fun things to do in Michigan this summer

West Michigan Summer Weekends

Kalamazoo Farmers Market

Michigan Fireworks Displays a comprehensive list of fireworks throughout the state
Gazelle Sports Events page (running and races)

Bike Friendly Kalamazoo's  Event listings
Event listings from Discover Kalamazoo
Events from West Michigan Tourist Association

Kzoo Kids lists Beaches near Kalamazoo & Battle Creek promotes Lake Michigan beach towns.
Beach Freaks guide to Michigan's Best Beaches
League of Michigan Bicyclist's Michigan Ride Calendar

West Michigan Coastal Kayaker's Association Event Calendar
Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy volunteer workdays

Sarrett Nature Center's Event list Benton Harbor

Michigan Festivals and Events Association Events browser

Michigan DNR's State Park Events 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Spring Events 2018

The snow this April hasn't been deep enough to ski but it sure hasn't felt very Spring-like.  Kalamazoo will eventually have warmer weather for hiking, biking, or bird watching.  Warmer temperatures will also bring wildflowers and morels.

Many West Michigan festivals and activities celebrate Spring.

Spring events near Kalamazoo

March 1- April 30 Butterflies are Blooming at Meijer Gardens Grand Rapids
April 21  free admission to the Kalamazoo Nature Center for Earth Day 
April 22 free admission to the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary for Earth Day   
April 21-29, National Park Week
April 14 Green-A-Thon 2018 Celery Flats Portage   
April 28 Thornapple Woodpecker Festival Middleville 
May 5 Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade 1pm St Joseph - Benton Harbor
May 5-13 Tulip Time festival Holland 
May 12-19 Kalamazoo Bike Week Kalamazoo

May 19-20 Great Lakes Kite Festival 2016 Grand Haven
May 19 Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones 4th Annual Native Plant Sale People's Food Co-op Kalamazoo 

Also consider:
Vegetable planting dates

Earth Day Activities throughout Michigan
Bike Friendly Kalamazoo's  Event listings

Tawas Point Birding Festival Iosco County May 17–18
birdwatching at Bird Trails and Sanctuaries in Michigan

Discover Kalamazoo's event listing

Events from Pure Michigan
Gazelle Sports Races and running calendar

League of Michigan Bicyclists Michigan Bicycling Calendar

Michigan Festivals and Events Association Events browser

The DNR has calendars of events for State Parks and Recreation Areas.

Sarrett Nature Center's Event list Benton Harbor

Southwest Michigan Cultural Exchange  May  Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Hickory Corners

Spring weekend getaways

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Maple Syrup Season 2018

The transition from Winter to Spring is maple sugar season.  Warm days and cold nights cause the maple sap to flow.  Changing climate affects the temperature, which complicates syrup production by moving the sap flow earlier in the year.  Local events continue to celebrate the season.

Maple Syrup Festivals near Kalamazoo

March 3-4 and 10-11 Maple Sugar Time Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Chesterton, Indiana 
March 11 Maple Sugar Madness Sarett Nature Center Benton Harbor

March 10-11 Maple Sugar Festival Kalamazoo Nature Center Kalamazoo

March 17-18 Sugar Camp Days Bendix Woods County Park, New Carlisle, IN

March 24  Sugarbush Festival  Blandford Nature Center  Grand Rapids

April 27 - 29 Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival, Wakarusa, Indiana

April 27 - 29 78th Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival Vermontville

Also consider
Michigan MapleWeekends

Michigan Maple Syrup Events 2018 in Oakland County and Southeast Michigan

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival