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Pure Michigan Tourism Conference Summary

Pure Michigan Conference Dave Lorenz

Dave Lorenz presents at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Traverse City

The Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism was held in Traverse City last week. Representatives from convention and visitor bureaus and hospitality professionals from across Michigan gathered to learn about the state of our tourism state.

We had a legislative report from a panel of lobbyists in Lansing. Our keynote speaker addressed the State of the American Traveler. And Dave Lorenz provided an update from Travel Michigan including plans for this year’s Pure Michigan campaign.

Since I know many of our clients missed out on attending I thought I’d share a recap of the event. Here are some of the hot topics, statistics and strategic plans discussed at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism that caught my attention.

Pure Michigan Legislative Report

Panelists: Michael Krombeen, Partner, Midwest Strategy Group; Matt Sowash, lobbyist, Michigan Legislative Consultants; Justin Winslow, President & CEO, Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association; Evelyn Zois Sweeney, Legislative Consultant, Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Associates. The panelists discussed topics of legislative interest to the hospitality industry and weighed in on the current climate in Lansing.

Pure Michigan Funding

Governor Whitmer’s proposed budget includes cuts to funding for Pure Michigan. Panelists agreed this is too early in the budget talks to be certain of funding dollars for this year. Lobbyists from Michigan Legislative Consultants agreed they are going to educate and push for as much Pure Michigan funding as they can.

Post-Labor Day Start

This is not only an issue of economic importance, but a workforce issue as well. Currently over 165 districts have waivers for pre-Labor Day start. Legislative discussions are exploring alternative schedules. These include allowing Tues-Thurs classes in August, as well as options for year-round classes.

Snow Days

Legislation has been proposed to allow schools options to deal with the increasing number of snow days. Possibilities include tacking on additional hours to the school day, and snow day forgiveness for Governor-declared emergency days.

Short Term Rentals

Panelists discussed addressing short term rentals in terms of regulation. The primary goals are to ensure everyone is paying into the same taxes & assessments. They are also seeking some form of registration, possibly by directly licensing platforms  such as AirBnB.

Auto No Fault

This is becoming a hot button issue for the hospitality industry as employees struggle to afford insurance. Panelists discussed the likelihood of making significant changes this year, with mixed opinions.

State of the American Traveler

Keynote speaker; Erin Francis-Cummings, Destination Analysts

Erin’s presentation, “The State of the Global Traveler – Drawing Wanderlust to Michigan,” presented statistics and trends to watch in 2019 among travelers. Here research reflected the mindset of global travelers, indicated some key demographics to focus on, and gave insight into the changes we’re seeing. Here are few take-aways that illustrate the current state of the industry.

  • The bad news:  Leisure trips are down from 4.2 trips annually to 3.8 trips, and budgets are down 5.6%. Personal finances, work and the cost of travel are the primary reasons for the decrease.
  • The good news:  Travel is still listed as the second most important leisure activity, just under spending time with friends and family. For younger travelers, however, travel competes with a lot more activities.
  • 4 primary traveler types: Generation Z, the National Park Traveler, Family Travelers and Aspiring Michigan Travelers.

Generation Z

The youngest travelers are that of Generation Z—ages 15-24. To reach this audience you’ll need video. You can find them on Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. Believe it or not they already make up 13.9% of the travel market.

National Park Travelers

This audience tends to be young and travels with their children. They use all types of planning resources. Primary interests include culture and food. They make up 31% of American travelers.

Family Travelers

Representing 47% of American travelers, this is clearly a popular target audience. This group is largely made up of women who frequently travel outside the U.S. This is a very social audience with 50% using Facebook to post both before and after their trips. They like AirBnB and are drawn to cultural and culinary experiences.

Aspiring Michigan Travelers

This is an ethnically diverse audience, largely made up of millennials and Generation X. They like to research travel destinations through travel apps, social media and tourism bureaus. Online video is important and influential.

Only 16% of American travelers aspire to visit Michigan. So how can we compete with other states and attract more travelers to Michigan? (Can you believe we fall behind Ohio!) The number one reason a destination remains top of mind to visitors is because they’ve been there before. The influence of friends and family impacts 65% of travelers. To grow our Michigan brand we need to gain loyalty. We need our visitors to continue to share their love of this region with friends and family—especially if they’ll share it on their social channels.

Michigan Cares for Tourism

This 501c3 non-profit is made up of volunteers from the tourism industry who want to give back to projects across the state of Michigan. They tackle small projects throughout the year and host an annual multi-day volunteer event in a select location. This year’s project is in our own backyard.

Michigan Cares for Tourism is seeking volunteers for the 2019 event at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse in Leelanau State Park, September 16-17, 2019. There are enough projects for 325 volunteers! To register visit michigancaresfortourism.org. C’mon Traverse City, let’s send some volunteers to help our neighbors. It’s a good excuse to hang out in a park on a Monday and Tuesday in the fall.

To kick off the conference, MC4T held an event at Munson Manor where volunteers donated toiletries, cooked food and tackled painting projects. Check In Michigan, the organization behind the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism, donated $10,000 to MC4T, with donations made on behalf of the conference speakers.

Pure Michigan Campaign Update

Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan made his annual trip to the stage to provide an update on the state of our tourism state. He delivered a report on the investment and returns on the 2018 Pure Michigan campaign. Next he shared a few highlights and top performing projects which earned significant results. And we wrapped up by hearing about some focus points for 2019. Here are a few of the take-aways.

Measurable Results from the $16.5 Million Advertising Investment in Pure Michigan in 2018

  • Influenced 6.4M person-trips
  • $2.5B in visitor spending
  • $153M generated in state taxes
  • $9.28 return on investment

Want to check out all the details? Here’s a link to the Pure Michigan Advertising Effectiveness Study. You can find more about what Travel Michigan is doing for you on Michigan.org. At the bottom of the page click Travel Industry and then look for Research.

Social Media Summary

Nick Nerbonne, MEDC Digital Media Director responsible for Pure Michigan social media accounts provided some additional insight during one of the social media sessions. Facebook engagement is down, however user base is still growing. Instagram engagement is up by 75%, due in part to the popularity and use of Instagram stories.

Pure Michigan has been exploring some longer-format feature videos to provide in-depth experiences. They include interviews that explore why people are passionate about these activities.

Two hugely popular social media campaigns were hashtag projects that drove user-generated content. The #FallFilter invited fans to share fall photos. Pure Michigan selected 5 photos each Friday and reposted. Another campaign debuted on billboards in Chicago seeking images at #LongLiveSummer. The digital billboard published user photos from that hashtag, sharing them on billboards for all to see.

Top social media post subjects in 2018 from Pure Michigan included images of the Mackinac Bridge, fall foliage, wildlife, ice waterfalls, Vernors lighthouse cans and blue ice on the Straits of Mackinac. Favorite fan subjects to share were sunsets, fall colors and Michigan lakes.

Pure Michigan Ad Campaigns and Projects

Pure Michigan partnered with influencers and publications last year to grow their brand awareness. Ginger Zee, meteorologist on Good Morning America and a Michigan native, was part of a social media promotion. They also teamed up with Outside Magazine for an engaging online experience that involved video creation, a landing page and interactive trail map.

Other notable projects included the Pure Michigan 18 – featuring 18 signature golf holes across the state in a season-long invitation to share your experience playing that hole. And an Urban DNA video series with Jason Hall was created to boost the state’s appeal for travelers seeking a world-class city experience.

We wrapped up with some sneak peeks into plans for 2019. Pure Michigan intends to focus more on digital platforms, targeting millennials, promoting the Upper Peninsula and highlighting our Dark Sky Parks.

Accessibility Takes Center Stage

One other significant take-away which made me very proud is our state’s focus on accessibility. If there was one buzz-word of this year’s conference that would be it. All three winners of the Stars of the Industry award for tourism innovations were programs and organizations supporting accessibility. Pure Michigan is embracing the opportunity to make our state more friendly to people with disabilities. And I for one couldn’t be happier to see it.

With three days of meetings, events and networking there was a lot to take in at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism. It was great to see the new conference center at the Park Place Hotel, and the remodeled Governors’ Hall at the Grand Traverse Resort & Casino. Traverse City Tourism played host to a bustling crowd of tourism professionals from across the state. And I even had a chance to meet a few people who mentioned they tuned in to our channel and saw me on TV!

Now it’s time for us all to return to the business we live everyday: celebrating the reasons we choose to call Pure Michigan our home.

By |2019-03-12T22:26:39-04:00March 12th, 2019|Check This Out, Events, Lodging, Traverse City|0 Comments

A Day at the Farmer’s Market

Spend a morning at the farmer’s market in northern Michigan and you’ll see how lucky we are to live in Michigan. But the farmer’s market certainly isn’t just for farmers anymore. It’s a gathering place. It’s where locals and visitors meet the growers and makers.

Did you know…

Michigan agriculture is leading the nation in many ways. Here are a few fun facts about how we rank:

  • Fourth in the country as a net exporter of hops
  • Third in the nation for the number of farmers markets (300+)
  • Second most agriculturally diverse state in the Country, next to California
  • First in the Country for the production of blueberries, tart cherries, dry black-beans, picking cucumbers and squash

Picked and Processed 

  • Upward of 1 billion pounds of sugar is produced annually in Michigan
  • Thanks to our local farmers, we are the nation’s leading producer of potatoes for potato chip processing

Buy Michigan Made

The best part about farmer’s markets is the opportunity to buy local. Whether we’re talking fruits or vegetables, beer or wine, soaps or lotions, salt or sugar, buying locally-produced goods supports the area economy.

 

Farmers Market All Natural Soap

Handmade soaps are one of many non-edible items available at the farmer’s market

Not only do farmer’s markets offer fresh food, local brews, and natural products, they also provide great entertainment! With vendors that are so good you can’t say no, we are used to watching our money turn to fruit, and occasionally, watch it DISAPPEAR like magic.

Farmers Market Magic Kid

This young entrepreneur will keep you on your toes as he makes the seemingly impossible, possible. Providing good fun for the whole family!

Visit a Farmer’s Market in Near You

Here are a few must-stop farmer’s markets in northern Michigan with a variety of vendors that meet weekly

Empire Farmers Market | Downtown Traverse City | Sat 9-1pm

Fife Lake Downtown Farmer’s Market | Fife Lake | Sun 9-1pm

Frankfort Farmers Market | Frankort | Sat 9-1pm

Glen Arbor Farmers Market | Glen Arbor | Tues 9-1pm

Interlochen Farmers Market | Traverse City | Sun 9-2pm

Leland Farmers Market | Downtown Leland | Thus 9-1pm

Northport Farmers Market | Downtown Northport | Fri 9-1pm

Sara Hardy Farmers Market | Downtown Traverse City | Weds & Sat 7:30-12pm

Suttons Bay Farmers Market | Suttons Bay | Sat 9-1pm

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons | Traverse City | Mon 2-6pm

Farm Stands & Markets

In this video we’ve featured two of Traverse City’s family-run farm markets Groleaus Farm Market just south of Traverse City, and Gallaghers Farm Market to the west. Click to get a tour of their markets and hear their stories. These are just two great examples of local farm markets to discover as you explore the highways and back roads of our region.

The list of farm stands, u-pick farms and independent markets in northern Michigan is long. Our friends at Taste the Local Difference have done a great job gathering that info together in one place. For details visit them online.

Be A Traveler

Farm markets aren’t the only way to eat fresh, and eat local. Many restaurants in the area support local farmers so stop in for a meal or a snack. Check out our Dining Guide, to browse menus from area eateries. Or for easy access on your iPhone or Android download our app and be a traveler in no time.

Thanks to our summer intern Carley, for the Day at the Market video featured above, which she filmed, edited and post produced. Watch it for a glimpse into her journey through the Sara Hardy Farmer’s Market in downtown Traverse City.

5 Michigan Lighthouses to Visit on National Lighthouse Day

National Lighthouse Day dates back to 1789. On August 7th many moons ago, Congress approved an act for the establishment and support of lighthouse, beacons, buoys, and public piers. It was not until 200 years later, in 1989 that this important Act received it’s own day of recognition. Happy National Lighthouse Day! Celebrate today and visit a lighthouse that’s not far away.

 

Old Mission Point Lighthouse

Old Mission Point Lighthouse

Located on 45th parallel the Old Mission Point Lighthouse is a popular park and playground along the shore. Pack a picnic and spend the day. There are beautiful hiking trails surrounding the lighthouse. It’s also a museum open for tours, and in search of volunteer keepers to serve as tour guides.

Directions: take M-37 to the end of Old Mission peninsula, approx. 22 miles from Front St. in Traverse City.

Point Betsie Lighthouse

Point Betsie Lighthouse

The oldest operating light in Michigan —and perhaps the most photographed— Point Betsie is a must-see on a visit to Benzie County. It’s a great spot to hunt for fossils like Petoskey stones and Charlevoix stones. The lighthouse is open for tours in the summer Thursday – Sunday.
Directions: take M-22 to Pt. Betsie Rd, 4 miles north of the blinking light in Frankfort.

South Manitou Island Lighthouse

South Manitou Island Lighthouse

Guiding ships safely through the Manitou Passage, the South Manitou Island Lighthouse is an important beacon in Lake Michigan. It’s part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with tours that take you to the top for an incredible panoramic view of National Lakeshore.

Directions: South Manitou Island may be reached by ferry from Leland. The lighthouse is located 0.6 miles from the ranger station and dock

Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum

Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum

At the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula you’ll find the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum. For a glimpse into our maritime history take the tour, or better yet, ask about their guest lightkeeper program. The lighthouse and museum are open May through October, and weekends in November.

Admission: Adults $5, Children 6-12yrs $2, under 5yrs are free
Directions: 9 miles north of Northport inside Leelanau State Park (entry fee charged)

Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse

Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse

The Frankfort Lighthouse marks the entrance to the Betsie Bay, a popular port for fishermen and sailors. You’ll find kids jumping from the pier in the summer, surfers riding the waves well into the fall, and the most storm watching along the north and south piers when the wind is high. Plus it’s a spectacular spot to watch the sun say goodnight to Lake Michigan.

Directions: Take M-22 past the blinking light to Main St, then west through downtown to Frankfort beach

We Love Our Lighthouses

The importance of lighthouses is hard to ignore. Especially when you consider the fact that at one time, the beacon of light could be seen across almost all of America’s shoreline!

Have you visited any northern Michigan lighthouses? Let us know your favorite in the comments below.

For more information on lighthouses in the area, and get directions right from your phone, download our mobile app. You’ll find them listed under the Attractions section. The Traverse Traveler app is a handy way to navigate through the Traverse area and discover must-see destinations like these.

See you on the beach!

 

7 Tips for Travelers to the Traverse City Film Festival

 

Film Festival Flow Chart graphic

It’s time for the annual Traverse City Film Festival. It’s a great chance to discover new movies, attend fun events and enjoy the hospitality of our city. We thought we’d share a few tips on how to be a traveler — not a tourist — during the film festival.

Standby line outcomes pie chart

Film Festival Tips for Travelers

  1. Take advantage of the free festival shuttle provided by BATA. The Bayline will bring you into town from your hotel. And look for details about their festival loop traveling between film venues. The buses are all ADA accessible, air conditioned and have wifi.
  2. Travelers know it pays to be flexible. If you didn’t get tickets to a movie, try the standby line. You just might get in, even if you don’t get to sit with your friends.
  3. Not all the movies are shown at The State and The Bijou. Make sure you know where your movie is playing before you get in line.
  4. Speaking of lines, bring a little patience. Don’t be that tourist who thinks lines are for other people.
  5. As long as you’re here to binge watch, why not be a traveler and venture out to our surrounding communities and take in a movie at The Garden in Frankfort, the Bay Theatre in Suttons Bay or check out northern Michigan’s only drive-in movie theater at the Cherry Bowl Drive-In in Honor.
    Film Festival Movies pie chart
  6. The outdoor movies in the Open Space are not to be missed. They’re free, they’re family-friendly and there’s usually something for everyone. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and arrive before dusk to claim your spot on the lawn. Here’s the Open Space lineup for this year:
    Tuesday | Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
    Wednesday | 9 to 5
    Thursday | The Greatest Showman
    Friday | Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
    Saturday | Black Panther
    Sunday | Coco
  7. The Traverse City Film Festival is the perfect excuse to spend the day downtown. Try a new restaurant, grab a drink with some friends, or do a little wine tasting. Our Dining Guide can be a helpful resource if you’re looking to try something new. It’s fun to be a traveler for the day, even if you’re a local.

Check out this year’s TCFF promotional video below:

We hope you use our tips to be a traveler during the Traverse City Film Festival. Enjoy the shows!

By |2018-12-12T08:45:08-04:00July 31st, 2018|Arts & Culture, Events, Family Fun, Travel Tips|0 Comments

Left Foot Charley Hosts Riesling March Madness

Battle of the Rieslings

Who needs basketball match-ups when you can battle it out to see which Riesling reigns supreme! Left Foot Charley is getting in on the March Madness with a Riesling wine contest.

Beginning Thursday March 15 and running for four weeks they will match up current and previous vintages of Left Foot Charley Riesling in a bracket-style tournament. Stop by their winery located at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons to taste, compare and vote for the winners on Thursday and Friday of each week.

Left Foot Charley has chosen 8 wines for the field that range from dry to sweet, pulling from vintages as far back as 2008, including a rare Riesling collaboration never previously offered for tasting or for sale.

The cost is $5 for the samples and the opportunity to vote. Guests who participate each week will be entered to win a $25 Left Foot Charley gift certificate.

We can’t resist a good Riesling, and Left Foot Charley has been producing them for years. Get in on the March fun and join the Riesling Madness. Specialty food pairings from Trattoria Stella as well as cheese and accoutrements will also be available for purchase. Glass pours and bottle sales are a way to extend the enjoyment – and perhaps pick up something unexpected.

Cheers!

By |2018-12-12T09:18:08-04:00March 15th, 2018|Events, Wineries|2 Comments

Chocolate and Pearls at Becky Thatcher Designs

Becky Thatcher Designs Pearls

Open House at Becky Thatcher Designs

Visit Becky Thatcher Designs in downtown Traverse City this Saturday, April 25th from 1-4pm for ‘Chocolate & Pearls,’ an open house event for jewelry lovers. Get a glimpse of new designs featuring pearls in earrings, necklaces and more. Pearls come in all shapes, sizes and many colors. At the open house event you’ll learn about the differences between Cultured, South Sea and Tahitian pearls.

Becky will be in store to share her knowledge of these traditional adornments. Browse her displays of creative handmade jewelry or peruse the loose pearls available for a custom design.

Becky Thatcher Designs | gemstone roundtableFor a truly unique learning experience ask about the upcoming gemstone roundtable event, where dealers present a collection of gems from around the world. Here’s a peek inside last year’s event.

Becky Thatcher Designs is located at 234 E. Front Street in downtown Traverse City, across from the State Theater.

By |2018-12-12T09:19:43-04:00April 24th, 2015|Arts & Culture, Events|0 Comments

Free Events in Traverse City to Celebrate Autism

Traverse Traveler is proud to announce several free events this week to celebrate autism, promote awareness, and raise money to purchase iPads for students with autism in the Traverse City community.

This year we have once again teamed up with the Northwest Michigan Autism Resource Network (ARN) to bring three free events to the Traverse City community.

April 21: Free Film at The State Theatre  |  6 pm

All community members are invited to a free screening of the brand new 2015 documentary, How to Dance in Ohio at the State Theatre. This film has been well received on the film festival circut and will make its debut at The State for our event. The documentary follows a group of teens with autism who spend 12 weeks preparing for a typical teenage rite of passage: a spring formal. Learn how these students tackle the social skills needed to ask someone on a date, invite them to dance and explore the complex world of social dynamics. More information about the film here.

April 24: Light up the Lanes at Lucky Jacks  |  4-7 pm

Families of children with autism are invited to join us for a special party at Lucky Jack’s on Garfield Ave where we will Light up the Lanes in their honor. We’ve planned an evening of fun and games including free bowling, treats, and activities. The eight-lane, private 300 Club at Lucky Jack’s as well as the adjacent party room will be reserved for this special event. This is an open house event with no reservations required.

April 25: Sensory-friendly Film at The Bijou  |  10:30 am

Sound and light levels will be moderated for this free showing at The Bijou in honor of Autism Awareness Month. Children of all ages will enjoy Rio2, while parents relax knowing that if they get a little loud, or need to get up and move, it’s OK.

Supporting Autism in our Community

Traverse Traveler remains committed to our mission of building awareness about autism, and fundraising to support children with autism in our local schools. In the last three years we have raised over $27,000 and purchased 52 iPads for students with autism in the Traverse City area public schools and T.B.A.I.S.D. We are grateful for the support of our sponsors and donors. If you would like more information about donating or supporting students with autism in our schools please feel free to email brandy@visitorsmedia.com.

By |2018-09-12T13:20:13-04:00April 20th, 2015|Events, Family Fun|0 Comments

Book Signing at Center Ice with NHL Hall of Famer Mark Howe

Traverse City in September is the place to be if you’re a hockey fan!

Mark Howe BookThe NHL Prospects Tournament begins this week at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City. Today organizers announce a special one-time event. NHL Hall of Famer Mark Howe, son of Mr. Hockey himself, will be at Centre Ice Arena this Saturday September 13, 2014 from 9 am – 11 am to for a book signing.

In a last minute addition Mark will return to Centre Ice for an additional signing Friday, September 19, 2014 from 8:30am – 9:30am.

Detroit Red Wings fans will have the opportunity to meet Hall of Fame legend Mark Howe. He will be signing copies of his new autobiography Gordie Howe’s Son: A Hall of Fame Life in the Shadow of Mr. Hockey.

Only 200 copies of the book will be available, with a limit of 2 signed copies per person. No other memorabilia will be signed at this event.

 

Detroit Red Wings Training Camp

Expect a big line as NHL and Detroit Red Wings fans are beginning to find their way to Traverse City for the upcoming NHL Prospects Tournament (September 12-16th) and Detroit Red Wings Training Camp (September 19-23rd), both hosted by Centre Ice Arena. Tickets are still available for these events.

For more information on these events visit CentreIce.org

Can’t make it up for all the action? Follow along on TheLeftWingLock.com as they report the play-by-play… so to speak.

By |2018-12-12T09:27:34-04:00September 9th, 2014|Attractions, Events|0 Comments

Buying Gemstones with Becky Thatcher

Becky Thatcher Designs Glen Arbor

A visit to Glen Arbor isn’t complete without a stop at Becky Thatcher’s studio.

I’ve been a fan of Becky Thatcher Designs since the first day I walked into her Glen Arbor studio and saw her jewelry displayed in cases filled with birch, sand and stones collected from the nearby Lake Michigan shoreline. A pale purple and blue landscape was painted on the walls, and I felt as though I’d never left the beach. From her petoskey stone watches, to freshwater pearls and signature rings that blend gold, silver and gemstones, Becky has a gift for crafting exceptional jewelry. She has a passion for sharing her knowledge as well. I thought it would be fun to share a piece of her world with you.

I asked Becky if I could get a behind-the-scenes look at the world of jewelry design for the Traverse Traveler blog, and Becky had the perfect solution.

Invitation to a Gemstone Roundtable

Earlier this summer I had the privilege of joining a gemstone roundtable hosted by Becky Thatcher and gemstone dealers from Mayer & Watt. Twice each year Becky Thatcher welcomes a handful of guests to join her in experiencing what it’s like to purchase gems directly from dealers who travel the world in search of beautiful stones. This was to be my glimpse behind the scenes of the gem buying process.

Our presenters, Simon & Laurie Watt, of Mayer & Watt, are accomplished gem dealers with whom Becky has worked for many years. Simon has served on the board of the American Gem Trade Association for more than 9 years, and Laurie was one of the first three women in the gem business.

Becky Thatcher Designs | Traverse City store

Becky Thatcher Designs, located on Front Street in downtown Traverse City. Becky also has stores in Glen Arbor, Leland and Harbor Springs.

We met at the Becky Thatcher Designs store in downtown Traverse City. A lovely light dinner and refreshments awaited while guests mingled and met our hosts. We sat at a long narrow table carefully prepared for the process of examining stones for purchase.

For over 30 years Mayer & Watt have developed relationships with a network of cutters and miners in every corner of the gem world, to bring stones to jewelers like Becky. Fair trade and fair labor are of utmost concern to be sure their products do not fund terror. They specialize in rare and unusual stones, many of which we had the chance to see and to hold.

Guests were seated around a long table with Simon at the head. He held a box with dozens of simple paper envelopes inside. We were asked to pass the envelopes around the table one by one. The outside was labeled with the name of the stone, the cut, the carat weight and the price. Since all stones were available for purchase we employed a special process for laying claim to a certain stone.

Becky Thatcher Designs | gemstone roundtable

At the roundtable event we viewed over 150 gemstones which ranged in price from $99 to over $100,000.

As the envelopes passed round the table each guest carefully opened the paper folds to reveal the loose stone(s) inside. Some were single stones and others were cut and sold as a pair. If one of the stones caught our eye and warranted a second look we called “dibs” along with our name and the number on the envelope, then passed it along. Dibs wasn’t a commitment to buy, “just a flirtation,” said Simon. A chance to see the stone again, handle it, and perhaps compare it to another stone that came along.

 

Becky Thatcher Designs | gemstone roundtable

Guests had an opportunity to view each stone up close as they were passed around the table. To see a stone a second time you call ‘dibs’ and they placed the stone on a tray in front of you.

 

Becky Thatcher Designs | gemstone roundable

Stones were packaged in a folded paper envelope, numbered and labeled. Each guest had the opportunity to see the stones unveiled for the first time upon opening the final fold. After viewing we passed them on folded inside just as they had been received.

I saw amazing gems that evening. Stones I’d never heard of. From Spinel, Chrysoberyl, Nephrite and Alexandrite to the familar Opal, Amethyst, Sapphire and Ruby. But the most unusual name and the most amazing story go hand-in-hand. We waited for the Rhodocrosite. Simon came across this award-winning stone 16 years ago. He offered to buy it and was told to “get in line.” Years went by and he never forgot the beauty of that stone. Just weeks before coming to Michigan he received a call about a special stone for sale. Lo and behold it was one in the same. The stunning Rhodocrosite (shown above) was finally his. You’d think this one would be marked “not for sale” but in the gem business that’s not how it works. The stones are always for sale. “It’s like getting to fall in love all over again,” said Simon. And he hopes someone will fall in love with this beauty.

Becky Thatcher Designs | gemstone roundable

Some stones were presented and sold as pairs.

It took hours to make our way through the entire box of stones. We all had fun calling “dibs” to see some of the stones up close. We marveled at the beauty of these treasures and imagined what Becky could do with them in her capable hands.

Becky Thatcher Designs | gemstone roundtable

This amazing gem is a green beryl. What a stunning cut, and surprisingly affordable.

Attending a gemstone roundtable was a fascinating experience. If you’d be interested in seeing this first hand I’d suggest you pay a visit to Becky Thatcher Designs in Glen Arbor, Leland, Harbor Springs or Traverse City and inquire. Becky will be hosting another roundtable yet this year. It could be a great place to start shopping for Christmas!

But wait, there’s more! Have you heard about Becky’s Tuesday Tea & Talk series? Throughout the summer she hosts a formal tea in her private garden behind the Glen Arbor store where Becky’s husband David shares a lecture on gemstones. The topic changes each week. Click here for the Tuesday Tea & Talk schedule and stop by for high tea in the garden and a glimpse into the world I found fascinating.

By |2018-12-12T09:31:14-04:00August 5th, 2014|Arts & Culture, Events, Made in Michigan|0 Comments

59 Ways to Love Summer in Traverse City

Summer, Traverse City, Cherry

An Up North summer begins and ends on a holiday. That’s 59 days to soak up the sun. So I put together a list of 59 ways to squeeze in every last drop of Pure Michigan fun. This year, let’s all Be a Traveler in Traverse City. On your mark… get set… go!

  1. Hunt for petoskey stones. Point Betsie is a good stony beach with miles of shoreline for walking. Not sure what you’re looking for? Pick up a rock hunting guide from Korner Gem. Kevin’s an expert!
  2. Watch a movie under the stars. Get a bucket of popcorn with real butter and experience a time warp at the Cherry Bowl Drive-in in Honor. Or check out the Bike-in TC movies in F&M park, and the week-long Traverse City Film Festival with free flicks at the Open Space in August.
  3. Sip a cold drink under the warm sun. I love to look out over the marina from the deck at Harbor 22, or better yet… cocktails on a boat, in the harbor will do just fine.
  4. Read a paperback on the beach. Ok, so this one makes my list every summer for nothing more than pure selfish relaxation. I’m usually giggling at Stephanie Plum in the latest Janet Evanovich book, but if you’re looking for a new read I’d suggest a stop by Brilliant Books in Traverse City.
  5. Buy a flight at a local brewery. Our little town is one of the beeriest cities in the U.S. You’ll find a dozen craft breweries in Traverse City and new ones popping up in small towns, like Stormcloud in Frankfort. So grab a flight and drink local.
  6. Bike the T.A.R.T. trail or Benzie trail. Follow this stretch of the T.A.R.T. that runs along Boardman Lake behind the Traverse Area District Library and look for the planetary signs. It’s great fun for the kids.
  7. Celebrate our independence with fireworks. We park and walk for miles to Lake Michigan beach in Frankfort with a bag of licorice, glow necklaces and dig our pit in the sand to watch a spectacular show every July 4th.
  8. Reel in a king salmon. Forget the worm, up North, the early bird gets the fish! The best bite is at dawn and dusk, but the thrill of the catch is worth it. On a good day you’ll bring home dinner. On a bad day it was a still a nice boat ride that followed the colors of the sun.
  9. Fill a basket with fresh picked fruit straight from the orchard. Stop at a U-Pick farm for a hands-on experience or pull up to a roadside stand and select from nature’s best.
  10. Count satellites and ponder the stars. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore holds ‘Star Parties’ several times each summer where you can explore the night sky through powerful telescopes. Or kick back next to a campfire and watch for meteors.
  11. Try a new restaurant. Our region is blessed with fantastic local eateries. Try one that’s new —or at least new to you— this summer. On my list: The Franklin on Front and Cass in downtown Traverse City and Tucker’s in Northport.
  12. Walk barefoot along our freshwater coast. Take some time to feel the sand between your toes on a beach walk. You’ll find busy beaches along the shores of West Bay, Frankfort and Empire, or seek solitude at the end of a quiet road in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
  13. People watch at a festival. From the National Cherry Festival to the Northwestern Michigan Fair to the Traverse City Film Festival there’s entertainment to be found in the crowd. You may catch a glimpse of celebrity locals including Michael Moore, Carter Oosterhouse and Mario Batali.
  14. Buy art from a local artist. Local art makes a unique souvenir from your trip up north. Check out Michigan Artists Gallery in Suttons Bay, Gallery 50 at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, and Art and Soul in downtown TC.
  15. Drink the fruits of our land. The wineries are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Grand Traverse region. But as a local, I’m proud to say I love them too. Take a trip on Old Mission or Leelanau county and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Before you go, check out my tips for wine-tasting in Northern Michigan.
  16. Jump off a dock. Swing from a rope, dive in a pool, take flight over a body of water and land with a splash. That’s summer lovin’ at its watery best.
  17. Marvel at a Museum. From unexpected treasures at the Music House Museum, to fine art at the Dennos to hands-on fun at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum, there’s indoor fun to be had in Traverse City too.
  18. Run down the dunes. The Sleeping Bear Dunes is a must-visit every summer. From the dune climb that overlooks Big and Little Glen, to the quieter spots in the National Park, find your spot to run with the wind in your hair and legs out of control.
  19. Eat dessert from a cone. Is there a more perfect summer food than ice cream? We make regular trips to Moomer’s for homemade deliciousness complete with farm views. But if you want to feel like a local order the Cosmo cone from the Dairy Lodge.
  20. Roast s’mores over an open flame. My secret for a perfect s’more:  buy the giant marshmellos, roast until gooey, remove skewer and slip two squares of chocolate inside the marshmello. Squeeze between two grahams and enjoy. This will be the most delicious mess you eat all summer.
  21. Float down the Platte. Whether you like to bob on a tube, cruise in a kayak or navigate with a canoe, a trip down the Platte from Riverside Canoes is the best way to enjoy the river. Plan to spend some time at the mouth swimming in the warm current as it empties into Lake Michigan.
  22. Dinner at the Manitou. After spending my high school and college years as a waitress here I can’t let a summer go by without a trip to the Manitou Restaurant on M-22 near Crystal Lake. No skimping either. Start with the skinny dippers and finish with blueberry raspberry pie.
  23. Climb a lighthouse tower. Nothing beats the view from the top of a lighthouse in Michigan. We’re lucky to have several you can climb including the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum. Did you know you can see four islands from their tower?
  24. Ride the new Heritage Trail. Bikers will want to check out the brand new Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail that runs from the Dune Climb south to Empire. It’s a beautiful new addition to the park.
  25. Dine al fresco. I do a lot of grab-n-go dining as I’m on the road. But in the summer I try to slow down for a meal al fresco. Check out the seating at Morsels along the Boardman River for a coffee or snack. Or grab a bite from the food trucks that park at The Little Fleet.
  26. Buy fresh fruit from a roadside stand. Cruise up M-37 on Old Mission Peninsula and you’ll find lovely roadside stands all summer selling cherries, peaches, apricots and flowers. Some are washed and ready to eat.
  27. Play golf. This region is surrounded by world class golf courses so grab a tee time. My favorite course has waterfalls, pirates and a zipline that traverses over the go-carts. Yep, I’ll be working on my hole-in-one at Pirates Cove.
  28. Take the boat to South Manitou Island. If you want to experience true north, the way it was before settlements took hold, then take the Manitou Transit from Leland and visit South Manitou Island. Climb the lighthouse, walk the beach and look for shipwrecks off the coast.
  29. Shop around M-22. Some of my favorite summer shops are scattered among coastal towns along M-22. I always sneek up to Suttons Bay to visit The Happy Woman, and At Home, Haystacks has my favorite skirts, and check Wildflowers in Glen Arbor for great garden gifts and fun jewelry.
  30. Photograph a sunset at Point Betsie Lighthouse. The most photographed lighthouse in the state, Point Betsie is an iconic subject for so many reasons. Catch the light at sunset, with waves crashing along the sandy shore… it’s a moment worth capturing on film.
  31. Pick blueberries. It could be strawberries, or cherries, but every year I say I’m going to pick blueberries from one of the farms on Old Mission or in Benzie County but I never make it! This is going to be the year.
  32. Visit the Crystal Lake Alpaca farm. Along Grace Rd between Benzonia and Frankfort you’ll find the Crystal Lake Alpaca farm. Bring the kids to pet the animals, and bring your wallet to buy some of the amazing clothing and gifts they make on-site.
  33. Drink from Mineral Springs. I don’t know if this makes you a tourist or a traveler. But every year my family drinks from the Mineral Springs in downtown Frankfort. Drink for tradition, drink for good health, but hold your nose. I still don’t like the smell.
  34. Learn about our legends and lore. Our native American heritage fills this region with legends, artifacts and traditions. Spend a day at the History Center, or Eyaawing museum near Suttons Bay to learn about our native cultures, and the people who built these communities.
  35. Find a secluded beach. Most days I’m happy if I can squeeze my towel in between beach goers from all different states, and watch families enjoying the shoreline. But somedays I seek a quiet place to walk and think. Find a happy stretch along the shore and relax.
  36. Set sail on Grand Traverse Bay. Kids will love to help hoist the sails aboard the Traverse Tall Ship Manitou that cruises daily on the bay. Looking for dancing and cocktails? Check out the Nauti-cat. And if a romantic sunset is what you seek, set sail aboard Scout.
  37. Take a behind-the-scenes tour. Whether you’re a foodie, a history lover or wine geek there’s a tour to be had if you ask. Sign-up online for a tour at the Grand Traverse Distillery or take an historic tour of the old state hospital grounds at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.
  38. Listen to a concert at Interlochen Center for the Arts. We are so blessed to have a world renowned school for the arts in our woodland backyard. Once you’ve listened to an Interlochen concert at Kresge with the summer breeze on your shoulders and music in the air, you’ll make sure this is on your list every year.
  39. Catch up with old friends. From backyard BBQs to campfires to a night on the town summertime is my favorite time to schedule time with old friends. Each year I meet my college roommates for at least one weekend of out-of-town fun.
  40. Make new friends. When you sit down at the bar for a cup of coffee, or are waiting in line at a popular restaurant, strike up a conversation with the person next you. More often than not I’m amazed by our connections and what a small world this really is.
  41. Tour a local art fair. From craft fairs to fine art juried shows, there’s an artfair somewhere nearly every weekend in the summer. I never miss the Frankfort art fair in August, but not just for the art. I’m in love with the chicken dinners they cook in the park. Best Chicken EVER!
  42. Boat party at the sandbar. The party crowd heads to Torch Lake where the sandbar is legendary. But the locals? We hang at Power Island when the beaches get crowded. Don’t have a boat? No problem. Hitch a ride from Bowers Harbor over to Power Island on the new transit and you’ll find pop-up parties all summer long.
  43. Get soaked to the skin in the warm summer rain. Surprise your kids, and perhaps yourself, when you throw logic and reason out the window and dance in the rain. No umbrella, no shoes, just pure spontaneous fun. I promise this will bring a smile to your face on a rainy day.
  44. Pick a bouquet of wildflowers. Baby’s Breath, Queen Anne’s Lace, wild Thistle, there are dozens of lovely wildflowers growing along the roadside. Pick up a field guide to help identify flowers, rocks and animals found in northern Michigan. Just be sure you don’t pick anything protected.
  45. Watch a ball game. Traverse City has the Beach Bums to quench our thirst for America’s pastime. Their beautiful stadium just outside downtown Traverse City is fun for the whole family. And every game finishes with fireworks.
  46. Visit Fishtown. Browse the quaint shops that line the century-old fishing wharf, pick up some smoked whitefish from Carlson’s, have a Chubby Mary overlooking the falls or grab a pretzel bread sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty. A day in Leland’s fishtown is a summer must-do.
  47. Tell stories around a campfire. Beach bonfires, campground fires surrounded by tents, patio hearths with potbelly stoves, pick your poison and enjoy one of summer’s iconic experiences. I like mine on the shores of a lake telling stories of summers past.
  48. Shop the farmers market. We are blessed to live in an agricultural paradise. And that’s never more apparent than on a trip to the farmer’s market. Every town has them.
  49. Eat cherries everyday! Well, maybe not that often. But when you live in cherry country why not enjoy it? Benjamin Twiggs has everything Cherry so you can shop to your heart’s content. And if you just want a sweet cherry treat: stop by Reflect Bistro inside the Cambria Suites for a cherry bread pudding that’s to die for!
  50. Party in the street. Wrap up the week with an evening at Friday Night Live in downtown Traverse City. Buy a balloon, enjoy live music, have your face painted. A perfect place to be a kid again…or bring one.
  51. Savor a simple homebaked snack. The smell of warm bread or cookies coming out of the oven is delicious any time of year. If I walk into Pleasanton Bakery I’m walking out with their Parmesan Olive bread and one of the fudgiest brownies I’ve ever tasted. So much yum!
  52. Get out on the water. Hop on a boat or a jet ski and ride out to where the deep water lives, clear and blue green as far as the eyes can see…and dive in! That is pure Michigan bliss.
  53. Eat your fill of fresh sweet corn. Nobody beats Hall’s farm on North Long Lake Road in Traverse City. For a fabulous summer salad try this corn and blueberry salad. It’s great served like a salsa with tortilla chips too. My secret potluck party weapon.
  54. Photograph the everyday moments. It’s not the parties and holidays that spark nostalgia but the details of summer memories past. Capture the special places, people and things in your life. You’ll thank me later.
  55. Play a sport on the lawn. Badmitten, croquet, bocce or new favorites like ring toss and bean bag games make fun family competitions a must-do for summer. For an entertaining contest try shooting ping-pong balls off of golf tees with rubber bands.
  56. Spend a hot day at a cool pool. My kids love the outdoor pool at Waters Edge at Crystal Mountain and can’t wait to try their new ropes course that lies above. Or you could stay and play at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, an indoor waterpark resort.
  57. Explore The Village. Wander the old state hospital grounds inside the Grand Traverse Commons, also known as The Village. Sip wine or cider at Left Foot Charley, pick up some Michigan gear at High Five Threads, or walk the trails that wind all around Traverse City’s version of Central Park.
  58. Watch a movie at an historic theater. Our community is lucky to have several renovated theaters back in action. The State Theatre in Traverse City,  The Garden in Frankfort and the Bijou by the Bay (formerly the Con Foster Museum). Restored classic theatres where the movies are great, and so are the prices.
  59. Eat, drink and shop local. Summer is the absolute best time to enjoy the bounty of northern Michigan and support the businesses that thrive on the extra traffic. So eat at a local hotspot, drink our wines and beers, and buy something that will forever remind you of this summer. The summer you spent enjoying EVERY DAY in this beautiful land of ours.
I’m Brandy from Traverse Traveler, and this is my list. I hope you’ll find something on it to add yours. If you have a favorite that I’ve forgotten, please add it in the comments. I love to discover new ways to enjoy this community. Happy Summer everyone!

Celebrate Autism with Free Events in Traverse City

Traverse Traveler is proud to announce several free events this April to celebrate autism, promote awareness, and raise money to purchase iPads for students with autism in our community.

This year we have teamed up with the Northwest Michigan Autism Resource Network (ARN) to bring four free events to the Traverse City community.

April 4: Light up the Lanes at Lucky Jacks  |  4-7 pm

To kick-off Autism Awareness month we’re inviting families of children with autism to a special party at Lucky Jack’s on Garfield Ave where we will “Light it up Blue” in their honor. We’ve planned an evening of fun and games including free bowling, treats, and activities. The eight-lane, private 300 Club at Lucky Jack’s as well as the adjacent party room will be reserved for this special event.

April 14: Film and panel discussion at Bijou by the Bay  |  6 pm

All community members are invited to a free screening of the 2009 documentary, The Horse Boy at the Bijou by the Bay theater. This hit on the film festival circuit chronicles the journey of the Isaacson family as they travel to Mongolia hoping to find a nomadic shaman to heal their five-year-old son’s autism. A moderated panel discussion will follow the movie, offering the community a place to ask questions, dispel myths and learn about how autism affects people in the Grand Traverse area.

April 16: ARN monthly speaker  |  6:30 pm

Karin Chandler, founder of Life Solutions for Autism, will speak on developing a childs skills to enable independence at the regular ARN monthly parent support group meeting. Advocating for and Empowering Children with Autism will be presented at Munson Medical Center room 11 (lower level).

April 27: Sensory-friendly film at The State  |  10 am

Sound and light levels will be moderated for this free showing of one of Thomas the Tank Engines feature-length adventures. Children of all ages will enjoy Thomas & Friends: Misty Island Rescue, while parents relax knowing that if they get a little loud, or need to get up and move, it’s OK.

Donating to iPads for Autism

Traverse Traveler remains committed to our mission of raising funds to help children with autism in our local schools. In the last two years we have raised over $25,000 and purchased 47 iPads for TCAPS students with autism as a partner in education. This year we will continue to raise money for ipads through voluntary donations collected at all events.

Walgreens

In addition, we’re thrilled to announce all four Traverse City area Walgreens stores will collect donations for iPads for autism throughout the month of April.

By |2018-09-12T13:20:14-04:00March 28th, 2014|Events, Family Fun|0 Comments

Ring in the New Year in Traverse City

New Years Eve Traverse City photo

What will you do on New Year’s Eve?

If you’re like me New Year’s Eve sneaks up on you after a long holiday of feasts, friends and family. Sometimes we have a plan, and sometimes we’re making it up as we go along. So for all you last minute planners out there here are a few ways to enjoy New Year’s Eve up north.

The CherryT Ball Drop

If you’ve ever dreamed of making it to Times Square on New Year’s Eve to be a part of huge crowds chanting a countdown to ring in the new year, then this option is for you (in a much smaller scale of course). Downtown Traverse City is bustling on New Year’s Eve during the CherryT Ball Drop. No that’s not a spelling error. The CherryT stands for Chartity ball, as the event is a fundraiser by design. The entrance fee is a $3 cash donation or 3 canned goods, with proceeds benefiting the Goodwill Food Pantry.

For all the details about this year’s CherryT Ball Drop visit their website.

Family Fun

Looking for a family-friendly way to count down to 2014? How about glow bowling, music, pizza and enough arcade games to keep the kids busy for hours. You’ll find it all at Lucky Jacks from 5:30pm – 8:30pm on New Year’s Eve. If whipping your friends at laser tag or on the pool table sounds better than freezing outside, why let the kids have all the fun? Show up later for the adult party. It lasts from 9pm – 1am.

Hoping to celebrate outdoors, but not interested in the big ball drop crowds? How about donning your skis for a torchlit parade followed by fireworks? That’s what’s in store at Crystal Mountain Resort this year. There’s an ultimate family pirate party the kids will enjoy, or join the Slopeside party for dinner and dancing along with a champagne toast. Party cover varies. Lift ticket or season pass required to participate in the torchlit parade.

Nightclubs

Shimmers on the Bay inside the West Bay Beach Holiday Inn Resort has two times the fun this year. They’ve got two bands: Soul Celebration & Twice Shy, along with DJ Shawny D as the host. Rock in the New Year with party favors, an old-fashioned balloon drop, champagne toast and lots of dancing fun. $15 cover

If you’re a fan of Billy Strings & Don Julin you’ll want to be at InsideOut Gallery for the Swingin’ Stringin’ New Year’s Eve. For a $10 admission you can enjoy the sounds of the True Falsettos and legendary aforementioned duo who will take you clappin’ and toe tappin’ into 2014. There’s a full bar available at the Outre Lounge, or step out for a craft beer and a bite next door at the Workshop Brewing Company.

Michigan Sparking Wine photo

Have a bubbly New Year!

Bring on the Bubbly

It wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve if there weren’t some corks a poppin’. As always our glasses will be be full of Michigan selections. So we thought we’d share a few local recommendations.

You can’t go wrong with L. Mawby this time of year. They specialize in sparkling wines from dry to sweet. My picks shy away from brut, which is why I opt for Detroit or Wet.

One of my personal favorites is only available seasonally from Black Star Farms. The Bubbly Nouveau tends toward the sweet and pink, which makes it a great choice when going to a party. If you’re lucky to find any left on the shelves by New Year’s Eve pick up a bottle or two. Otherwise log that idea away for next year.

Left Foot Charley is bringing out something special for the holiday. Stop by on New Year’s Eve for a glass of their 2010 Gitali, a brut bubbly. Available by the glass (for a limited time) or by the bottle.

Celebrate by Chateau Chantal is another great sparkling wine option from the Old Mission peninsula. It also makes a nice hostess gift if you’re attending a New Year’s party with friends.

 

New Years appetizer photoTasty Treats

My favorite way to spend New Year’s Eve is at a house party with friends. But you can’t show up empty handed. So I’m going to share a handy holiday recipe that’s sure to please.

Cranberry Brie Bites

You’ll need:

Washed whole fresh cranberries
maple syrup
granulated sugar
cherry preserves (I like Old Mission Traders or Benjamin Twiggs)
brie, rind removed and sliced in 1/4″ thick slices
water table crackers
fresh mint leaves (optional)

Directions: Soak the cranberries in maple syrup overnight. Drain and roll cranberries in granulated sugar. Assemble the crackers with a slice of brie, top with small amount of cherry preserves and 2 or 3 sugared cranberries. Add a mint leaf as an edible garnish.

They’re beautiful, and they taste great!

You’ve got your bubbly, a great appetizer, and lots of options for how to spend your New Year’s Eve. So get out there and party like it’s 1999. It may not the be the turn of the century, but I’m looking forward to the turn of the calendar page just the same.

Happy New Year everyone!

By |2018-09-12T13:20:14-04:00December 31st, 2013|Events, Family Fun|0 Comments

Wellington Inn at Christmastime

Antiquities Wellington Inn

Discover the beauty of the Wellington Inn at Christmastime

If you’ve ever wandered down historic 6th Street and Washington in Traverse City and wondered what it would be like to live in those huge Victorian homes then this is for you. The Wellington Inn is opening their doors to the community for the 11th season in a celebration of old fashioned Christmas spirit. I stopped by the Inn this week for a behind-the-scenes peek at what’s to come this weekend and next during their annual Inn at Christmastime extravaganza.

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By |2018-09-12T13:20:14-04:00December 4th, 2013|Events|0 Comments

Traverse Traveler Donates 20 iPads for Students with Autism

Traverse Traveler iPad Donation graphic

The Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism committee donated 20 iPads with the proceeds from the second-annual event. The iPads were presented on Monday, September 9th to Traverse City Area Public Schools for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Traverse Traveler Donates iPads to TCAPS image

Photo

Front (L-R):
Kathy DiMercurio – Volunteer Chair
Kara Eubank – Lucky Jacks, sponsor
Carol Lorenz – Activities Chair
Brandy Wheeler – Event Founder
Kate Daggett – Donations Chair
Jame McCall – TCAPS Special Education

Back row (L-R):

Lisa Woodcox – Disability Network, committee member
Michelle Hazard – Network Traverse City, committee member
Kelly Hall – TCAPS Board President
Steve Cousins – TCAPS Superintendent
Josh Russell – Jimmy Johns, sponsor
Nick Nerbonne – Social Media Chair
Greg Nickerson – CityMac, sponsor

 

On a slushy day in April, 237 participants braved unseasonable weather to navigate the streets of downtown Traverse City for the second-annual Scavenger Hunt for Autism. Teams used the Traverse Traveler app and a QR code reader to discover downtown businesses, check-in and unlock a clue for an activity at each location. Volunteers stationed at every venue assisted with the on-site challenge, and handed out prize tickets. Fifty-nine teams made up of families, educators, children with autism and disabled adults encountered puzzles and games that challenged their brains, their sense of direction, and teamwork.
 

The event, sponsored by Lucky Jacks, was a fundraiser for the iPads for Autism program at Traverse City Area Public Schools, a pilot program started in 2011 to provide iPads for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Traverse Traveler became a Partner in Education with TCAPS in order to grow this program.
 

The Scavenger Hunt fundraiser generated donations from event sponsors, team registrations and private donors. Paired with contributions from the Light it up Blue event in early April, Traverse Traveler raised over $10,700 for the iPads for Autism Program in 2013. Donated iPads will be utilized by elementary and secondary students throughout the TCAPS district.
 

"When we started this fundraiser it was extremely difficult for a student with autism to have access to an iPad unless mandated by their I.E.P (individualized education plan). In two years we’ve raised over $25,000 and added 47 new iPads to bridge the gap between what’s mandatory and what’s necessary," said event founder, Brandy Wheeler. "I’m extremely proud of our committee and thankful for the generous donations from this community."
 

Jame McCall, special education director for TCAPS, recognized Brandy and the committee for the iPad donation and added, “More than that, more than the tangible things, the awareness in the community has been incredible.”
 

For more information on the Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism visit our website TraverseTraveler.com/Autism or find us on Facebook.
 

 

Thank You Scavenger Hunt Volunteers graphic
 

 

By |2013-09-10T11:11:46-04:00September 10th, 2013|Events, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

Pirate's Cove Raises Money for Wounded Soldiers

“Putting for Patriots” Event at Pirates Cove Adventure Park in Traverse City

 

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, in Traverse City, Michigan will host the 7th Annual “Putting for Patriots” fundraiser over Memorial Day weekend. This national event will occur simultaneously at 33 Pirate’s Cove, Pirate’s Island and Jungle Golf miniature golf courses throughout the United States. 

 

Fundraising efforts began earlier in May and will culminate on Memorial Day weekend to support three charities, which serve our wounded, their families and survivors of the fallen.  These organizations include: “Hope For The Warriors”, “Homes for Our Troops” and “TAPS—Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.”  Pirate’s Cove, Jungle Golf and Pirate’s Island will donate a percentage of their total sales on Saturday May 25th & Sunday, May 26th.  Since its inception, this event has raised over $128,000.

“Memorial Day was specifically founded to remember those who died serving our nation,”
notes Brad Graft, Pirate’s Cove Partner and Regional Director.  “The Pirate’s Cove / Pirate’s Island family thought it appropriate to establish an annual event to serve charities that assist our living veterans and the survivors of fallen military members. These are men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.”

Pirate’s Cove and Pirate’s Island operate 33 miniature golf courses throughout the United States.  For more information, visit their Web sites at www.piratescove.com, www.piratesislandgolf.com, and www.junglegolfminigolf.com. Additional information on the above charities can be found by accessing their Web sites:  www.hopeforthewarriors.org, www.homesforourtroops.org and www.taps.org.

By |2013-05-24T07:09:43-04:00May 24th, 2013|Attractions, Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Star Parties Begin May 11 at Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes Star Parties

Explore the Night Sky at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will be offering a series of monthly astronomy programs this year.  Join Park Rangers and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society for a guided exploration of our night sky and one daytime event.  The next Star Party is May 11 with a viewing of the closest star — the sun.  Each special event takes place at a different location throughout the National Lakeshore to take advantage of strategic viewing opportunities.  Come for star gazing, meteor showers, sun viewing, and storytelling.  Kids of all ages can participate in the Night Sky Junior Ranger program.

Starry night skies and natural darkness are important components of the special places the National Park Service protects.  National parks hold some of the last remaining harbors of darkness and provide an excellent opportunity to experience this endangered resource.  So visit the National Lakeshore and enjoy park skies by attending the following Star Parties:

May 11 (12:00-2:00 p.m.), Visitor Center Parking Lot in Empire
This is a daytime Star Party to view our closest star – the sun.  View the sun using a solar telescope and solar shades.  See solar activity, including flares and prominences.


 

June 8 (9:00-11:00 p.m.), Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive #3 Overlook
View Saturn, the Milky Way, and various constellations.  Meet at the Dune Overlook #3, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  Please park at Picnic Mountain; the next right after the #2 stop.

 

July 13 (9:00-11:00 p.m.), Platte River Point
View the moon, Saturn, and various constellations.

 

August 10 (9:00-11:00 p.m.), Thoreson Farm in Port Oneida
The Port Oneida Fair celebration continues into the night.  View Saturn and the Perseid meteors.

 

September 7 (9:00-11:00 p.m.), Dune Climb Parking Lot
View the summer Milky Way and many Deep Sky Objects.

 

October 21 (8:00-10:00 p.m.), Dune Climb Parking Lot
Celebrate the 43rd anniversary of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with a starry event.

For all astronomy events, bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car and bug spray, if needed.  Park Rangers and GTAS staff will be wearing red glow bracelets at the events. 

The monthly Star Parties will be cancelled during inclement weather.  The decision is usually made three hours in advance.  Please call Park Rangers at 231-326-5135, ext. 331, for a voicemail message with the decision.

All programs are free.  Participants need only purchase the Park Entrance Pass or have an Annual Pass displayed in their vehicle to join in the fun.

 

By |2013-05-03T11:21:29-04:00May 3rd, 2013|Events, Leelanau|0 Comments

"Light it up Blue" for Autism Awareness April 2 in Downtown Traverse City

 

Join us as we “Light It Up Blue” a World Autism Awareness Day, family-friendly event in downtown Traverse City on Tuesday, April 2.

Light It Up Blue begins at 6 p.m. April 2 at ECCO, 121 E. Front St., with food and fun activities with a blue theme. Glowing luminaries will be available for purchase for $5, with proceeds to benefit the Traverse City Area Public Schools iPads for Autism program.

Downtown merchants are encouraged to decorate their storefronts in blue in honor of the event. At 7:30 p.m. participants will carry the luminaries along Front Street to the Open Space. At the Open Space, participants will place the blue glowing lanterns in the shape of a puzzle piece, another symbol of autism. The event will be captured on video and an overhead photo with the community will be taken to show Traverse City’s participation in “Light it up Blue.”

Blue luminaries are available for purchase in advance at Old Mission Traders, 215 E. Front St.

If you live in the Traverse City area we encourage you to come down for this fun event. But even if you can’t we encourage everyone to Light it up Blue whereever you are. Here’s what you can do:

  • Wear blue clothing, nail polish even hair paint
  • Turn your porch light blue with a bulb from Home Depot. Special bulbs are for sale with proceeds to benefit Autism Speaks
  • Decorate your door, your yard or your desk in blue or with puzzle pieces, the symbol of Autism

 

World Autism Awareness Day logoLight It Up Blue is a worldwide event in which participants seek to light prominent landmarks blue to help raise awareness of autism, a developmental disorder now estimated to affect one in 50 children. In Michigan, the Mackinac Bridge will be lit blue on April 2. Other prominent buildings have included the Empire State Building in New York City and the CN Tower in Canada.

In Traverse City, Light It Up Blue is organized by the Scavenger Hunt for Autism, a fundraising event set for April 13 that will also benefit TCAPS’ iPads for Autism Program.

“We’re excited to add this prelude event this year to further increase autism awareness,” Scavenger Hunt founder Brandy Wheeler said. “Kids, parents, grandparents and community members of all ages in between are invited to help make the Open Space as blue as the bay.”

For more information on Light it up Blue or the Scavenger Hunt for Autism on April 13 visit www.traversetraveler.com/autism or find us on Facebook
 

By |2013-03-28T06:41:27-04:00March 28th, 2013|Events, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

Becky Thatcher Designs Hosts Pearl Goddess Lecture

Becky Thatcher Designs Pearls imageBetty Sue King image

Becky Thatcher Designs welcomes Betty Sue King on Wednesday, September 5th at 2pm for a lecture on all things Pearl.

 

Pearls 101: Freshwater & Saltwater, Cultured & Natural

Betty Sue King, the Pearl Goddess, will be joining Becky Thatcher in her Traverse City jewelry store for a lecture on pearls. How are freshwater pearls different from akoya, South Sea and Tahitian? Gain in depth information and practical advice for a core understanding of pearls.  Betty Sue King, "The Pearl Goddess", has been buying overseas and selling her remarkable pearls for over 30 years.  She passionately weaves the technology and romance of pearls with humankind’s natural obsession for beauty. Betty Sue will energize you with visions of glorious pearls to inspire your dreams.

 

The lecture includes a powerpoint presentation, handouts and a hands-on experience.

 

If you share a passion for pearls, or would like to learn more, join the conversation. Stop by Becky Thatcher Designs in Traverse City on September 5th and enjoy! Visit www.beckythatcherdesigns.com for more information on her jewelry and store locations.

By |2012-08-30T09:59:58-04:00August 30th, 2012|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

August Events in Traverse City

August is full of events in and around the Traverse City area. If you’re feeling like summer is passing you by, stop and smell the excitement and take part in the fun. I guarantee there is something for everyone in the family.

 

August Events in Traverse City

 

Paella in the ParkPaella in the Park
Friday August 3 | Clinch Park, Traverse City
The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula pair up with 7 chefs to create 21 paellas for a great taste combination. Enjoy music from Spin Doctors and Grupo Aye and a beautiful views of the bay.
www.porterhouseproductions.com

 

 

 

State Theatre Traverse CityTraverse City Film Festival
July 31-August 5 | Downtown Traverse City
Hosted by filmmaker Michael Moore the non-profit festival is volunteer run and supports the State Theatre. The 2011 festival included over 150 screenings and 128,000 admissions. There are free movies each night at dusk, and a free shuttle service for the festival loop.
www.traversecityfilmfest.org

 

 

Northwestern Michigan FairNorthwestern Michigan Fair
August 4-11 | Fairgrounds, Traverse City
Goin’ to the Fair has been a local tradition since 1908. From livestock exhibits and 4H shows, to nightly grandstand events including horse pulls, motocross and tractor races, the fair is fun for the whole family. Arnold Amusements Midway is open Monday – Saturday. And don’t forget the classic fair foods from Gibby’s Fries to elephant ears and turkey legs. I can smell it now.
www.northwesternmichiganfair.net

 

Sheryl Crow at InterlochenInterlochen Center for the Arts
One of the nations premier performing arts schools is located just miles from Traverse City in Interlochen. The August concert and event schedule includes:
August 2-5 | Children of Eden, high school musical theater performance
August 11 | The Magic of Bill Blagg Live!
August 13 | Sheryl Crow performs at Kresge Auditorium
August 18 | The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue: Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs
tickets.interlochen.org

 

 

bicyclesCherry Roubaix Bike Race
August 10-12 | Traverse City
A series of competitive bicycle races through downtown Traverse City including a dedicated road race which will crown the 2012 Michigan State Champion. Fun to watch and compete.
www.cherry-roubaix.com

 

 


Brewed in Michigan T-shirtTraverse City Summer Microbrew and Music Festival

Friday & Saturday August 24-25th | The Village at Grand Traverse Commons
Featuring 200+ brews and live music with Friday night concert by Dierks Bentley.
www.porterhouseproductions.com

 

 

Don’t let the sands of summer slip between your fingers leaving only dust in their wake. Fill your summer with memories of a great time in Traverse City with family, friends, food and fun.

Cheers to August in Northern Michigan!

By |2012-08-02T08:26:45-04:00August 2nd, 2012|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Remembering Rufenach: Center I.C.E. to Honor Fallen Prospect

Bryan Rufenach’s tragic death hit the hockey world hard. When news surfaced about his accidental death while traveling Europe, his teammates, friends and fans throughout the Red Wings organization offered help and support to his grieving family. The 23 year-old was selected by Detroit in 2007 and signed a contract last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Rufenach spent most of the season with Toledo of the ECHL where he notched 13 goals and 33 points in 54 games.

Prior to turning pro, the offensive defenseman spent four seasons with Clarkson University where he piled up 21 goals and 55 points over four seasons. Rufenach also attended the 2011 Detroit development camp in Traverse City, MI and also participated in the 2011 NHL prospects tournament and Red Wings training camp.

To honor the Lindsay, Ontario native’s memory, organizers of the development camp in conjunction with the Detroit Red Wings, Grand Rapids Griffins, and Toledo Walleye have designated July 10th as Bryan Rufenach day. The day’s events will kick off at 4 pm with food, beverages, and entertainment outside Centre I.C.E. Arena. The puck will drop on an intrasquad scrimmage at 7 pm at Centre I.C.E. A brief ceremony to honor Bryan’s memory will be held prior to the start of the scrimmage.

Tickets for the July 10th match-up will be available at the door for $5. A portion of all proceeds from ticket sales, merchandise and concessions will benefit the memorial fund set up to help fund the operation of the Bryan Rufenach Memorial Skills Camp. Additionally donation cans will be available throughout the arena for fans who would like to make direct contributions to the fund. For the complete schedule of development camp go to www.centreice.org, DRW Events in TC on Facebook and follow us on twitter @redwingscamps #drwdc
 

By |2012-07-10T13:39:23-04:00July 10th, 2012|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments