By MIKE NORTON Well, that had to have been about the most perfect weekend ever. Saturday was a splendid finale to the National Cherry Festival, from the huge Cherry Royale Parade to the amazing fireworks display over the bay. And maybe it was my imagination, but most of the people I saw and talked with (except for the inevitable political killjoys with their signs and petitions who seem to swarm to any event where there are a lot of people) seemed to be having a good time and glad to be hanging out in Traverse City. Wednesday night during the warmup to the Kansas concert (you know, those guys sound better now than they did when they were actually charting) deejay Terri Ray from WKLT asked the crowd, "Aren't we SO LUCKY to be here in this beautiful place?" and they just roared their agreement back at her! I gotta tell you, it made me feel so good to hear that. This is a beautiful place, and I love the fact that we're all starting to realize how profoundly blessed we are to be here - whether we're residents or visitors. And just because Cherry Festival is finished, that doesn't mean there's nothing going on around here - if anything, the calendar seems to be filling up with all kids of wonderful events. If you love horses, for instance - or if you're simply interested in observing the fascinating culture of the folks who raise, train and compete in the world of equestrian sports - you should spend a day or two at Horse Shows by the Bay over at the Flintfields Horse Park near Williamsburg.
- Goodbye, Cherry Festival visitors -- Until next year!
HSBB is a five-week "equestrian festival" that brings thousands of the nation's best horses here to compete in show jumping, dressage, equitation, and hunters for over $550,000 in prize money. This year's show began June 30 and runs until July 31, and most of the big spectator events are held on weekends. For a distinctively non-weekend event this week, you might think about heading off to the village of Empire on Thursday evening - a good excuse to watch the sunset over Lake Michigan. Several public-spirited Empire businesses -- The Secret Garden, The Miser's Hoard, Grocer's Daughter Chocolate, Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak and Deerings Market - have decided to sponsor a series of Thursday night "musical evenings" to bring people into town during the week. This week, the music will be provided by Bo Bossa a local four-piece ensemble that plays swing, jazz, blues, Latin, fusion and whatever else they feel like playing. Speaking of great little towns near Traverse City, one of the most underappreciated is the village of Kingsley - mainly, I think, because it isn't on the coast and doesn't have a beach. But the nice thing about Kingsley is that it hasn't gotten over-gentrified. It still feels like a traditional Up North town, and seems determined to stay that way in spite of all the people who are moving there these days. Anyway, I notice that this weekend they'll be holding their own festival, Kingsley Heritage Days, with lots of traditional small-town fun, including a Saturday morning parade.
- A Spirited Competitor at Horse Shows By the Bay
And up at Suttons Bay, the folks from the Inland Seas Education Association will he holding their fourth annual Inland Seas Summer Festival, a day-long Saturday celebration that highlights ISEA's mission to teach children and adults about the biology, history and traditions of the Great Lakes by taking them on voyages on their tall ships, especially the schooners Inland Seas and Manitou and the sloop Liberty. The festival will include tall ship tours and sailings, children's games and activities, food from local restaurants, live music and much more. Finally, here in town at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons (our former mental asylum) developer Ray Minervini and his family have been getting the locals together every July for the past three years for an impromptu bocce tournament. If you've never played bocce before, it's a great game (sort of like horseshoes played with hefty balls) and the Minervinis have built an Italian-style bocce court in the piazza -- the courtyard behind Building 50 where the Pleasanton Bakery, the Underground Cheesecake and the Left Foot Charley winery are located. This year's tournament will be held Saturday. The festivities will begin with a potluck picnic at 12:30 pm, followed by the tournament at 1:30...all accompanied by Italian folk music.
- The Tall Ship Inland Seas