Post Tagged with: "MUSKEGON"

Life, death and an Irish jig: Michigan Irish Music Festival delights crowds on final day

How do you make death a joyous affair? Ask Steve and Cathy Jo Smith, experts on the rituals of an Irish wake.

MUSKEGON, MI – How do you make death a joyous affair? Ask Steve and Cathy Jo Smith, experts on the rituals of an Irish wake.

There is no mourning in the house. Clocks are stopped and mirrors are covered as a sign of respect, and to keep spirits and fairies away. And through a three-day period of not leaving the body unattended, community members gather to drink whiskey, eat a lavish feast and smoke using pipes and tobacco as part of the process.

If it’s anything like the Smith’s model tent, it’s truly a sight to be seen.

CelticKilroy.jpgPerformer Celtic Kilroy shares a moment with Norton Shores residents Agnes Rose, 98, and Fred McWain on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014 at Heritage Landing during the final day of the Michigan Irish Music Festival.Dillon Davis | ddavis11@mlive.com 

There are many cultural lessons attached to this process, ones the Smiths, of Grove City, Ohio, felt would be a fitting addition to four days of the 15th annual Michigan Irish Music Festival, held at Heritage Landing in downtown Muskegon.

Steve Smith stressed that the handling of death is an important part of Irish culture, which has kept he and his wife traveling to share this lesson for more than 14 years.

“People don’t understand why they would turn this into a party,” Smith said. “You know, the short answer is, England occupied Ireland for almost 800 years and the Irish were held down. … It was illegal for too many Irishmen to gather together at one place at one time with two exceptions: weddings and wakes.

“If you’re marrying or burying someone, you want to take advantage of the time.”

Apart from lessons of death, the Michigan Irish Music Festival was abound with life Sunday afternoon, complete with the strumming of strings, the stirring of kettle corn and a few steps here and there to an Irish jig.

Chris Zahrt, president of the Michigan Irish Music Festival, said the festival continues to grow each year, seen prevalently in the expansion of music and food options.

Although the weather is an area festival organizers can’t control, Zahrt said the festival has carved its place on the annual event calendar in the Muskegon area – a long way from where it started under a single tent 15 years ago.

“(The festival is) to present the Irish culture and we do that through music and food and dance and the cultural presentation,” Zahrt said. “We’re so unique because there’s not really another event like this in Michigan where you can hear this type of music or eat this type of food or you know, listen to people present different cultural topics.”

The food options, in particular, stand out about the festival with options ranging from traditional Irish dishes to carnival food such as elephant ears and deep fried Twinkies. There also were multiple vendors offering beer and liquor drinks, some options seemingly written out of a James Joyce novel.

One of the food eateries on hand was McGovern Catering of Shelby. The McGovern family has been with the Michigan Irish Music Festival since the beginning and offered patrons a taste of classical Irish fare, complete with breads and potatoes and meats.

Michael McGovern, son of McGovern Catering owner Mike McGovern, commented about the growing crowds during the festival and how, despite the growth, festival organizers have kept pace with them.

“The festival gets more organized every year, everybody gets more organized and they’re more efficient,” he said. “There are huge crowds here but you wouldn’t know it. I think everybody has learned to be more efficient and helping to make the experience positive for everybody, keeping it moving.”

Muskegon native and Allendale resident Brandon Cilla made his second consecutive trip to the festival this year.

Cilla, who was not aware of how long the festival had been going in the area, said the music continues to be a draw for him.

“I came down last year and I enjoyed it very much,” Cilla said. “I decided to come again, this time for the entire three days and I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly.”

Dillon Davis is a staff writer at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at ddavis11@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter

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Life, death and an Irish jig: Michigan Irish Music Festival delights crowds on final day

How do you make death a joyous affair? Ask Steve and Cathy Jo Smith, experts on the rituals of an Irish wake.

MUSKEGON, MI – How do you make death a joyous affair? Ask Steve and Cathy Jo Smith, experts on the rituals of an Irish wake.

There is no mourning in the house. Clocks are stopped and mirrors are covered as a sign of respect, and to keep spirits and fairies away. And through a three-day period of not leaving the body unattended, community members gather to drink whiskey, eat a lavish feast and smoke using pipes and tobacco as part of the process.

If it’s anything like the Smith’s model tent, it’s truly a sight to be seen.

CelticKilroy.jpgPerformer Celtic Kilroy shares a moment with Norton Shores residents Agnes Rose, 98, and Fred McWain on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014 at Heritage Landing during the final day of the Michigan Irish Music Festival.Dillon Davis | ddavis11@mlive.com 

There are many cultural lessons attached to this process, ones the Smiths, of Grove City, Ohio, felt would be a fitting addition to four days of the 15th annual Michigan Irish Music Festival, held at Heritage Landing in downtown Muskegon.

Steve Smith stressed that the handling of death is an important part of Irish culture, which has kept he and his wife traveling to share this lesson for more than 14 years.

“People don’t understand why they would turn this into a party,” Smith said. “You know, the short answer is, England occupied Ireland for almost 800 years and the Irish were held down. … It was illegal for too many Irishmen to gather together at one place at one time with two exceptions: weddings and wakes.

“If you’re marrying or burying someone, you want to take advantage of the time.”

Apart from lessons of death, the Michigan Irish Music Festival was abound with life Sunday afternoon, complete with the strumming of strings, the stirring of kettle corn and a few steps here and there to an Irish jig.

Chris Zahrt, president of the Michigan Irish Music Festival, said the festival continues to grow each year, seen prevalently in the expansion of music and food options.

Although the weather is an area festival organizers can’t control, Zahrt said the festival has carved its place on the annual event calendar in the Muskegon area – a long way from where it started under a single tent 15 years ago.

“(The festival is) to present the Irish culture and we do that through music and food and dance and the cultural presentation,” Zahrt said. “We’re so unique because there’s not really another event like this in Michigan where you can hear this type of music or eat this type of food or you know, listen to people present different cultural topics.”

The food options, in particular, stand out about the festival with options ranging from traditional Irish dishes to carnival food such as elephant ears and deep fried Twinkies. There also were multiple vendors offering beer and liquor drinks, some options seemingly written out of a James Joyce novel.

One of the food eateries on hand was McGovern Catering of Shelby. The McGovern family has been with the Michigan Irish Music Festival since the beginning and offered patrons a taste of classical Irish fare, complete with breads and potatoes and meats.

Michael McGovern, son of McGovern Catering owner Mike McGovern, commented about the growing crowds during the festival and how, despite the growth, festival organizers have kept pace with them.

“The festival gets more organized every year, everybody gets more organized and they’re more efficient,” he said. “There are huge crowds here but you wouldn’t know it. I think everybody has learned to be more efficient and helping to make the experience positive for everybody, keeping it moving.”

Muskegon native and Allendale resident Brandon Cilla made his second consecutive trip to the festival this year.

Cilla, who was not aware of how long the festival had been going in the area, said the music continues to be a draw for him.

“I came down last year and I enjoyed it very much,” Cilla said. “I decided to come again, this time for the entire three days and I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly.”

Dillon Davis is a staff writer at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at ddavis11@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter

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Community lecture series explores depths of Civil War at USS Silversides Museum

Following a successful partnership to bring a World War II lecture series to the area earlier this year, the USS Silversides Museum and Muskegon Community College once again are teaming up for the “Civil War and Gettysburg” lecture series.

MUSKEGON, MI – Following a successful partnership to bring a World War II lecture series to the area earlier this year, the USS Silversides Submarine Museum and Muskegon Community College once again are teaming up for the “Civil War and Gettysburg” lecture series.

The lectures start Sept. 15 and run weekly through Oct. 6 at the Silversides, 1346 Bluff St., in Muskegon.

Once the lectures are completed, interested parties can attend a three-day trip to Gettysburg, Pa., which includes visits to the site of one of the Civil War’s most memorable battles.

Professors Kurt Troutman and George Maniates are scheduled to lead the lecture series, providing an in-depth look at the Civil War and the events leading up to it.

For Peggy Maniates, curator of the USS Silversides Submarine Museum, the series provides the community an opportunity to learn about a paramount moment in American history, and do so in an environment conducive for learning.

“There’s a great deal of interest in adults who want to learn beyond the classroom,” Peggy Maniates said. “This gives them the opportunity to take the classes you wanted to take but couldn’t take. A lot of people are excited because they look for something educational and this provides them that opportunity.”

Lectures are $5 per person and admission is included with a USS Silversides Submarine Museum membership or the Gettysburg Travel Package. All lectures begin at 6 p.m. MCC students can take the course for credit.

Here’s the full lecture schedule along with travel information:

Sept 15: Drumbeats of War – A Missouri Compromise, Bleeding Kansas and John Brown’s Raid.

Sept. 22: First Cut is the Deepest – Lincoln’s gamble at Fort Sumter plunges the country into war.

Sept. 29: The Advance of Freedom – Union Success at Gettysburg

Oct. 6: A Seminal Moment – Hallowed Ground and the Restoration of the Union.

Oct. 17–20: Gettysburg trip. $450 for the bus trip, three nights in the hotel, three breakfasts, all Museum and National Battlefield tickets and the four lectures.

For more information, visit the Silversides online at silversidesmusuem.org or check out Muskegon Community College at muskegoncc.edu/Gettysburg.

Dillon Davis is a staff writer at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at ddavis11@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter

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Remember and Rebuild: Things to know about new 9/11 exhibition at Muskegon Museum of Art

Everyone remembers exactly where they were; everyone can recall exactly how it made them feel.

MUSKEGON, MI — Everyone remembers exactly where they were; everyone can recall exactly how it made them feel.

The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center buildings in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., caused the deaths of more than 3,000 people and forever changed the fabric of American society.

Now 13 years after the attacks, the Muskegon Museum of Art is opening an exhibition called “Remember and Rebuild” to tell the story of the creation of the September 11 Memorial and Museum, which started construction in 2006. The exhibit is open to the public from Sept. 11–Nov. 9 with different events scheduled through the duration of its stay at the museum.

The idea behind the exhibition is to pay tribute to those lost on Sept. 11, strengthen a sense of national identity and “express unity, respect and inspiration” that people feel when visiting the museum.

The exhibition kicks off on Sept. 11, 2014 with the Remember and Rebuild Opening Event, an outdoor ceremony open to the public, to honor those who perished on Sept. 11, 2001. Muskegon firefighters who reportedly traveled to Ground Zero, elected officials, as well as local union and trade representatives will be in attendance.

Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $5 for college students with valid ID, $5 for MMA members, and $ 3 for children 13-17 years old. Ages 12 and under are free and auditorium programs are free. Gallery exhibition admission requires purchased ticket.

Admission on second Saturdays of the month is free.

Here are some things to know about the opening at the Muskegon Museum of Art:

What will you see?

Remember and Rebuild reportedly is the first exhibition to feature the work of 9/11 staff photographer Amy Dreher, as well as the first to introduce a series of artifacts from the collections at the September 11 Memorial and Museum.

The exhibition was organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art in collaboration with the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City.

Key supporters include Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, Richard and Nancy Morgenstern, Port City Group, Ramos and Sons Auto Body and Towing, the Rotary Club of Spring Lake, Port City Group, Roger and Marilyn Andersen and the MMA NYC Tour Group and MLive Muskegon Chronicle.

Be part of Muskegon’s video tribute

Beyond the opening event, the exhibition is providing an opportunity for the community to be involved through Community Sharing and Video Taping.

The Muskegon Museum of Art Partnered with Baker College of Muskegon’s second-year Digital Video Production students to capture the Sept. 11 stories of visitors to the exhibition, with the goal being to create Muskegon’s video memorial of Sept. 11, 2001.

Tapings will run from 1-3 p.m. on Sept. 18, Oct. 2, Oct. 16 and Oct. 30 with an additional taping session from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 2 and Oct. 30.  

A copy of the project will be presented as a gift to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

Supporting Their Own: Stories from Muskegon Firefighters at Ground Zero

One of the major stories to come out of Sept. 11, 2001 was the overwhelming bravery of police and firefighters who rushed to the sites at the World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa., to help others.

The nine Muskegon firefighters who visited the site of 9/11 following the attacks are hosting a panel discussion Oct. 23 to share the stories of their fallen comrades along with the lessons they took away from the visit.

The event starts at 6:30 p.m. with the panel discussion beginning at 7 p.m.

Brown Bag Films and Super Saturdays

The Muskegon Museum of Art is hosting a series of events to commemorate the stay of the exhibition.

Starting Sept. 11 and running on select dates through Oct. 11, the Muskegon Museum of Art is bringing a movie series of 9/11-based films as well as accompanying activities, which all are free and open to the public.

A full list of events is available at muskegonartmuseum.org.

Did you know?

Sept. 11, 2001 marked the single-largest loss of life from a foreign attack on American soil in history, ahead of only the Pearl Harbor attacks in 1941.  

Of the nearly 3,000 people killed on 9/11, at least 400 were police officers and firefighters, many of whom risked their lives to protect others in the aftermath of the attacks.

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum opened up to the public on the site of the Sept. 11 attacks on Sept 12, 2011 with the museum opening to the public on May 21, 2014. According to the museum’s website, the museum includes 23,000 images, 10,300 artifacts and the oral histories of nearly 2,000 people provided by friends and family members of 9/11 victims.

The museum was designed by Davis Brody Bond, LLP.

Dillon Davis is a staff writer at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at ddavis11@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

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Muskegon Civic Theatre to open season with Tony Award nominated musical ‘Working’

Few musicals could resonate in the Muskegon area quite like “Working.”

MUSKEGON, MI – Few musicals could resonate in the Muskegon area quite like “Working.”

A Muskegon Civic Theatre production of “Working” is headed to the area, running on select dates from Sept. 19–Oct. 4, at the Beardsley Theater within the Hilt Building at the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts.

Based on the novel by author Studs Terkel and adapted by Stephen Schwartz, Nina Faso and Gordon Greenberg, “Working” is the story of America’s workforce, told through first-hand accounts of those who lived it. The musical is vast and detailed; earning multiple Tony Award nominations and becoming a fixture in theaters across the country since it first opened in 1977.

For Jason Bertoia, production director of “Working,” the musical provides the unique opportunity to delve into the lives of American citizens, exposing their emotions through the trials and tribulations of a day at work.

“It gives a story and a face to all these different people who keep America running,” Bertoia said. “It’s nice to give faces and stories to everyday Americans because it gives them the opportunity to voice their story and tell where they come from and their background and why they do what they do.”

“Working” is the first of what should be an entertaining season for the Muskegon Civic Theatre, complete with shows spanning the depths of all ages and demographics.

After “Working,” the Muskegon Civic Theatre will put on adaptations of “A Christmas Story” (Nov. 21–Dec. 7), “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” (Jan. 16-24), “Other Desert Cities) (Feb. 20–March 7) before closing the season with “Peter Pan” (April 30–May 3).

The first show kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Sept 19 with 10 dates scheduled through the duration of its stay at the Beardsley Theater.

General admission tickets for “Working” are $20 for adults and $18 for students and seniors. A Muskegon Civic Theatre season pass for two is $122 which is valid from the opener Sept. 19 until the curtain closes May 3, 2015.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit muskegoncivictheatre.org.

Dillon Davis is a staff writer at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at ddavis11@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

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Labor Day 2014: Muskegon-area parade geared toward labor unions’ community outreach

United Way of the Lakeshore has coordinated with area labor unions to put on the 19th annual Labor Day Parade starting at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 1 in downtown Muskegon.

MUSKEGON, MI – One of the state’s few Labor Day parades is returning for another year in the Muskegon area.

United Way of the Lakeshore has coordinated with area labor unions to put on the 19th annual Labor Day Parade starting at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 1 in downtown Muskegon. A post parade celebration is scheduled in front of CIO Hall, located at 390 W. Western Ave., with activities geared toward fostering a fun, family weekend.

The parade route starts at the corner of Fourth Street and Clay Avenue, travels down Clay before turning left on Jefferson Street to Western Avenue and taking Western Avenue until it again reaches Fourth Street.

Jana Routt, AFL-CIO Labor Liaison for United Way of the Lakeshore, is anticipating 500-700 people comprised of at least 30 labor groups for the area attending, some with as many as 100 members each.

Routt said the parade’s focus is different from past years, as she hopes it’s a vehicle for community outreach for the local labor unions.

“The hope for this year is to engage the community with the working families,” she said. “We want the community to know that they’re welcome to join us. We want to work together and we want to represent the good in the community.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 in legislation signed by President Grover Cleveland. The holiday, which started as a response to the infamous Pullman Strike of 1894, has evolved into an American celebration of workers and labor unions while also serving as the marker as the start of the school year.

For Routt, Muskegon’s Labor Day Parade is an opportunity to celebrate the area’s rich labor heritage while also appreciating the work currently being done by labor unions in the greater Muskegon area.

“The main focus is community engagement,” she said. “It’s a moment for us to reflect on the hard work our ancestors put forth for our future for us to have jobs, for us to be able to make a wish that’s sustainable for our families and to be able to have a negotiable relationship with our employers so we have security in the workplace.”

For more information or to learn more about United Way of the Lakeshore, visit unitedwaylakeshore.org.

Dillon Davis is a staff writer at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at ddavis11@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter

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‘Endless Love’ affair: Muskegon area embraces inaugural Shoreline Jazz Festival

Jazz is for lovers. And this town might have found a new soul mate.

MUSKEGON, MI – Seeking salvation under tents and umbrellas but collectively swaying in the midst of the dry heat of an August afternoon, the city of Muskegon embraced a long treasured musical secret this weekend.

Jazz is for lovers. And this town might have found a new soul mate.

Several thousand people passed through the makeshift gates of Heritage Landing in downtown Muskegon to take part in two days of Alexander Zonjic’s Shoreline Jazz Festival presented by the University of Toledo. The first-year festival welcomed a wide array of performers, including Boney James, Lalah Hathaway, Ruben Studdard, Kenny G and the eccentric flautist, Zonjic.

Based in Detroit, Zonjic played an integral role in the planning process of the festival, booking the talent, communicating with vendors and performing Sunday night, Aug. 24 with longtime friend Kenny G.

“I’ve been in the business for years and I’ve been making records for years so a lot of them are friends,” Zonjic said. “Kenny and I work together – all of them. It’s kind of a situation where you call your buddies up and sometimes a few of them show up and sometimes they all show up.

“We’ve had a good weekend with friends.”

Prior to Sunday evening’s nightcap performance by Zonjic and Kenny G, the crowd was serenaded by the voices of Hathaway, daughter of legendary soul singer Donny Hathaway, and the former “American Idol” winner Studdard.

Studdard, in particular, was a crowd favorite, with many fans shouting praise following each song of his set. He and Hathaway stuck around for nearly 30 minutes after leaving the stage to sign autographs and interact with fans – one fan even admitting she nearly fainted out of excitement to see him.

“It’s really a blessing to get the opportunity to do a job I love every day,” Studdard said. “To see that it moves people, it makes me happy to see people enthusiastic about the performances.”

More than a year of planning allowed the rookie festival to appear mature beyond its years, in large part because of the diligence of Zonjic, executive producer Hawkins “Hawk” Lang and a team of volunteers.

The festival was complete with a variety of food vendors, a merchandise tent and plans for expansion in the coming years to accommodate more people as the festival grows.

“We just thought it’d be nice that the city and the county and the state would remember and also bring it to Heritage Landing,” Lang said. “We didn’t want it to be a small venue; we wanted it to be huge. We want to grow and stay attached to it so when they come in 2017 or 2018, they’ll say, ‘Hey, that’s that Shoreline Jazz Festival.’ It’s a beautiful thing.”

The many people navigating the aisles between seats or standing in line for refreshments appeared to be in jovial spirits, taking in all the festival had to offer.

Muskegon resident Peter Shyne brought his daughter Selah, 8, out to Heritage Landing in an effort to show support of the new festival. Shyne, a self-proclaimed music lover, said these types of events add flavor to the summer season in Muskegon, one that he’d like the city to experience for years to come.

“It’s an opportunity for us to experience some good music and show our appreciation for them putting the event on,” Shyne said. “We need to support it when they have events like this so we can have more of them.”

Dillon Davis is a staff writer at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at ddavis11@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

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Second-year surge: See the Lakeshore Art Festival organizers’ estimate for 2014 attendance

The Lakeshore Art Festival, in existence for two years, has already established itself as one of the premier art events in West Michigan.

MUSKEGON, MI – The Lakeshore Art Festival, in existence for two years, has already established itself as one of the premier art events in West Michigan.

The 2014 festival, held on July 4-5, drew an estimated 50,000 people to downtown Muskegon, according to event organizers. The estimated attendance is an increase from 2013.

The 2014 event featured two new additions including an Art Carve, in which students and professors from Baker College’s Culinary Institute of Michigan created sculptures made entirely of food. Several other interactive art activities were also part of the festival.

“We received a lot of positive feedback about the interactive art opportunities this year and we hope to build upon this for next year’s event,” said Festival Director Carla Flanders.

There were 240 art vendors, 47 children’s events and 18 street performers at the 2014 event. A juried art and craft fair and craft market exhibition were also held. Winners included:

Fine Art/Fine Craft Juried Winners (Juried by artist, professor and curator Brett Colley):

  • First Place – Best in Show: Michael Onweller, Wood from Lapeer.
  • Second Place: Casseus Cantave, Mixed Media from Kissimme, Fla.
  • Third Place: Suzanne Lienhart, Colored Pencil from League City, Texas.
  • Honorable Mention: Shinichi Sato, Acrylic Paint from Kentwood.
  • Committee Choice: Basi Kalbinder, Wearable Fiber from Yelm, Wash.

The MLive People’s Choice Awards

  • First Place: Robert Knoll, Timberline Handcrafted Woodwork from Twin Lake.
  • Second Place: Katie Dyer, Tickled Pink Bowtique from Muskegon.
  • Third Place: Erin Lipps and Trisha Musk, The Driftwood Spot, Muskegon.

Brandon Champion covers arts and entertainment, business and weather for MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at bchampio@mlive.com and follow him on Twitter @BrandonThaChamp.

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