Experiencing Northern Michigan: 2017 Retrospective & Looking Forward to 2018

Toasting to Northern Michigan at Silver Leaf Vineyard & Winery on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail.

It’s been quite a year! Here’s to the health and happiness of everyone in Northern Michigan and beyond throughout 2018. In the last few months since I started writing Experiencing Northern Michigan, I’ve shared some good times, and I can’t wait for all that’s around the corner this year! As this is now the fifteenth post for Experiencing Northern Michigan—and the first of 2018—I wanted to honor the start of the New Year with a toast to all the kind and talented people I’ve met so far, the phenomenal places I’ve visited, the fun classes and events I’ve attended, and all the great local businesses Up North where I’ve shopped small.

The Shay Locomotive aglow in the City Park at Cadillac Commons.

I started writing this column (promo produced by Mane Content) last September, beginning with the 2017 Cadillac Craft Beer Festival. To explore more of Cadillac, I shopped for fruits, vegetables, flowers, and apple cider last fall at the Cadillac Area Farmers Market, which will undergo exciting changes in 2018. I also attended the Christmas tree lighting at Cadillac Commons to ring in the winter season, and I did some holiday shopping at small businesses in Downtown Cadillac to support the local economy and the #shopsmall movement. I moved to Cadillac from Ann Arbor at the start of 2017 when my boyfriend Will and I bought a 113-year-old home together in the heart of downtown near the historic district. I love living in a walkable neighborhood, and I’m grateful to be a first-time homeowner in Northern Michigan.

Vintage trains in Downtown Cadillac.

For me, 2017 was a year of many firsts. On top of buying my first home, I rode a train for the first time in the rain through the Cadillac countryside to McBain and back thanks to a partnership between the Steam Railroading Institute and the Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau. I also visited Mt. Pleasant for the first time to catch a speaking event at CMU featuring Brandon Stanton, founder of the storytelling blog Humans of New York and creator of Humans of New York: The Series.

Art project at Hang Workshop in Traverse City.

Another great first was visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore after dark on their 47th anniversary for a stargazing party—truly a breathtaking, humbling experience that my photos don’t do justice. I made a “Welcome Up North” wood sign (the first of many craft projects I hope to take on) at Hang Workshop in Traverse City through a group art class taught by Viki Simons. And I went pumpkin-picking for Halloween at Geers Farms in McBain for the first time—a donut-fueled morning packed with fun autumnal activities.

The State Theatre in Downtown Traverse City.

I’m grateful I could share so much cool stuff this past year. My top five favorite experiences I got to write about in 2017 include when I reflected on the 10th anniversary of the grand reopening of the historic State Theatre in Downtown Traverse City and my memories from the 2017 Traverse City Film Festival as well as the night I saw Michigan-based musician May Erlewine performing original songs from her awesome new album Mother Lion at Gopherwood Concerts in Downtown Cadillac. All throughout Northern Michigan, this year has been packed with exciting events, and I’ve loved taking part to experience our incredible communities.

The Vogue Theatre in Downtown Manistee.

Also in my top five experiences of 2017: when I celebrated the holidays in Downtown Manistee for their 29th Annual Victorian Sleighbell Parade & Old Christmas Weekend and got to tour the renovated Vogue Theatre; when I visited The Village at Grand Traverse Commons for their Christmas in The Village weekend, and I rode in a horse-drawn carriage through the grounds; and when I went wine tasting along the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail last fall for their annual Toast the Season event.

Will McConnell (left) and me (right) with our puppy Story wishing you a happy New Year!

In 2018, I’m looking forward to trying new things, having fun, and celebrating Northern Michigan’s best. Next week I’ll be sharing my experience at the great paint-and-sip spot Painting and Vine in Cadillac, where I painted a Michigan winter wonderland with the help of local artist and instructor Debra Wright. I’m also looking forward to writing about staying well through the winter by making your own teas, tonics, and tinctures through a class taught by Sandy Gaunt at The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park in Traverse City. This winter, I’m excited to try ice fishing for the first time, to go sledding and make a very Northern Michigan hot cocoa recipe, and to check out this year’s North American Snow Festival in Cadillacplus a lot more.

Michelle Dunaway (left) and Charlie Tinker (right) with 9&10 News’ executive producer of “the four,” Jamie Thompson (center).

There’s even more excitement in store for 2018 at 9&10 News! Starting Monday, January 8, a new lifestyle show will be on every weekday at 4pm called the four featuring all things local going on around Northern Michigan, hosted by Michelle Dunaway and Charlie Tinker. Tune in to the four every Tuesday afternoon on 9&10 News to watch me talk with Michelle about my latest Experiencing Northern Michigan column! We’ll share my photos on-air and have a fun discussion—you’re welcome to join us by contributing ideas via Facebook. Like the four’s Facebook page for updates, behind-the-scenes, and more about the new show!

Buggy Down Carriage rides for Christmas in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

Check out my Facebook page to catch every week’s Experiencing Northern Michigan column plus photo albums and video clips. To everyone in Northern Michigan, happy New Year!




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