Michigan 2018: What We’re Excited For This Year
2017 was another fun-filled year for Michigan residents and visitors alike. We saw the opening of the new Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit (home of the Red Wings and Pistons), countless new brewery openings, continued preservation efforts for lighthouses, state parks and more, and even more national recognition for all of the great things going on here. After spending the last two weeks posting some of our favorite experiences from this year, we now turn our attention to 2018 by looking at some of the biggest events on the calendar. There’s a lot to be excited about next year, and still plenty of time to plan some epic vacations! Enjoy this Michigan 2018: What We’re Excited For list, and as always let us know if you think we missed something big.
Sault Ste. Marie’s 350th Anniversary – This is in our opinion the biggest thing happening in Michigan in 2018, as our first city celebrates 350 years with a year-long slate of fun events. Things kick off on New Year’s Eve with an outdoor event that will feature fun for the whole family, a ball drop, and an exclusive beer from our friends at Upper Hand Brewery (350th Anniversary Light Michigan Lager). The Downtown Winter Ice Festival takes place in late January. In February the city will try and break the Guinness World Record for a snowmobile parade, an event that serves as a lead-in of sorts for the 50th annual I-500 Snowmobile Race. June brings the International Bridge Walk (23rd) and the Soo Locks Engineers Weekend (29th-30th). The big party happens in July, as the 350th Festival promises to be “filled with history, games, kids zone, music, entertainment, and food.” You can view the full schedule of events at http://www.saultstemarie.com/350th-celebration-2018/ and check out our posts about where to view freighters, the historic Water Street district, Soo Locks Boat Cruises, and our 10 favorite things to see and do when in town. For those who were wondering, a 350th anniversary is called a semiseptcentennial!
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore State Quarter – Since 2010, the “America the Beautiful” program from the U.S. Mint has featured national parks and other national sites on the backs of quarters. In 2018, Michigan will get its only quarter in the series, as Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is honored with its own design releasing early in the year. The design depicts the iconic Chapel Rock, which can easily be viewed from a Pictured Rocks Cruises boat or reached after a roughly three mile hike. A special event will take place on February 7th (quarter launch celebration and coin exchange) at the Mather Elementary auditorium.
100 Year Anniversary of Elk in Michigan – Hunting and lack of habitat had eliminated a once-large elk herd in Michigan by the 1800s, and in 1918 seven elk were brought from the Western U.S. to an area near Wolverine for reintroduction. A thriving herd now roams the Pigeon River Country State Forest near Gaylord. You can find a map of best viewing locations at the Michigan DNR site, or guarantee a sighting by visiting the City Elk Park in Gaylord. Michigan residents are also able to help put money towards elk preservation by purchasing a special license plate.
West Michigan Whitecaps 25th Anniversary – Next season marks 25 years of Whitecaps baseball, and right now the team is offering two different holiday ticket offers! You can choose from the Rudolph (12 tickets, $10 gift card, 4 Celebration! Cinema movie passes; $163 for a savings of $47) or the Santa (20 tickets, $20 gift card, 4 movie passes, 2 opening day reserved tickets; $255 for a savings of $80) through January 31st. After that it’s just a short wait of a few months before baseball season begins! There will be plenty of special events this season to mark the anniversary, stay tuned to www.whitecapsbaseball.com for details.
New Additions to Bell’s Beer Lineup – Kalamazoo’s Bell’s Brewery will be shaking things up a bit next year, with the addition of new beers, new packaging, and the return of some old favorites. Larry’s Latest Sour Ale will make its debut early in the year, and later on in the year Hell Hath No Fury (Dark Ale) will gain two companion beers. Road To Hell gets a July release and Sympathy For The Devil will be released in November, with Hell Hath No Fury’s release falling in between. Sparkleberry Ale (Belgian-style Tripel with raspberries) will see increased distribution in four-pack cans. In May, Bell’s will release 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout Reserve, celebrating 30 years of their signature stout that uses Traverse City cherries.
Founders Beer Calendar Changes – The great beer announcements keep on coming, as Founders recently announced that Breakfast Stout and Backwoods Bastard will be available year-round in 2018. The brewery is also introducing the “Mothership Series,” which they described as “this series will be available for carryout only at our taproom locations and will include three releases throughout the year, from old favorites to experimental new styles. We’re kicking it off with a beer we had to retire from bottles a few years ago based on its short shelf life: the longtime standby, not to mention hands-down Founders employee-favorite, Red’s Rye IPA!” Founders’ Detroit taproom opened this week, and their Grand Rapids location continues to be a destination for locals as well as visitors from all over the country. Visit https://foundersbrewing.com/ to check out the beer lineup, merchandise and more, or to sign up for email updates so you’re always on top of the latest news.
ArtPrize 10th Anniversary – When the first edition of “the world’s largest public art contest” kicked off in 2009, few of us knew exactly what to expect. Now, Artprize has built a solid reputation for transforming Grand Rapids into a very large art gallery each fall. The leadership team no doubt has some special things planned for the 10th anniversary of ArtPrize, you can stay tuned to http://www.artprize.org/ for details as announcements are made. You can check out our photo gallery from last year, one from 2015, and one from 2012 to see some of our favorite pictures.
Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse turns 150 – The Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse first entered service in 1868, lighting the way for mariners entering the harbor for more than 40 years before the Munising Range Lights made it unnecessary. Due to its proximity to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, this lighthouse is photographed by thousands each year from Pictured Rocks Cruises, Riptide Ride passengers, Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tour passengers, and kayakers with Uncle Ducky Outdoors. The lighthouse’s rustic appearance and wood exterior also make it an excellent subject for photographs in all seasons.
Kalamazoo Growlers 5th Anniversary and hosting Northwoods League All Star Game – 2018 marks 25 years of Northwoods League baseball, and five years of Kalamazoo Growlers baseball at Homer Stryker Field. We had the chance to attend a game last season and left impressed with the stadium, service, and fun! The Growlers are once again offering 7-game packs of tickets, which include all-you-can-eat, free gifts, early access, and a ticket exchange program. The Growlers will host the 2018 Northwoods All-Star Game on July 24th, featuring top players from each of the league’s 20 teams. Contact the team today to reserve a spot on the Priority List for next season to make sure you don’t miss the best games.
50th Anniversary of Detroit Tigers’ 1968 World Series Championship – In 2018, the Detroit Tigers will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 World Series winning team. To celebrate, the team is offering an amazing ticket package for five special games. The package includes tickets to all five games and the associated giveaways for those nights. The games are: May 26th (Al Kaline bobblehead), June 2nd (Bill Freehan bobblehead), July 7th (Willie Horton bobblehead), August 25th (Mickey Lolich bobblehead), and September 8th (replica road jersey). These are all Saturday games.
U.P. Fall Beer Festival and Detroit Fall Beer Festival celebrate 10 Years – Two of the Michigan Brewers Guild beer festivals will celebrate their 10th anniversaries in 2018. The U.P. Fall Beer Festival will be held September 8th in Marquette’s Mattson Lower Harbor Park, and the Detroit Fall Beer Festival will take place October 26-27 at the Eastern Market in Detroit. After finally getting to attend the Detroit Fall Festival this year and loving it, we hope to finally make the trip up to Marquette for the U.P. festival next year! Keep up to date on Michigan beer news and watch for tickets to these festivals going on sale at http://www.mibeer.com/.
Railtown Brewing Co. expansion – One of our favorite Grand Rapids area breweries recently celebrated three years of business, and in 2018 they will move to a new building with increased production capacity and a full kitchen. Railtown Brewing Co. is located on 68th St. in Dutton at the end of a strip mall, and while they have always allowed outside food to be brought in or delivered they have not had a kitchen for providing their own food options. We can’t wait to try the new food menu while drinking a Good Mooed (milk stout) or Citra Warrior (imperial IPA). Stay up to date on construction and upcoming special events by visiting Railtown’s Facebook page.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Postage Stamp – In 2018, Sleeping Bear Dunes will be featured on the USPS Priority Mail Express stamp. In a Dec. 12 announcement the USPS said the stamp celebrates “a national park in Michigan that takes its name from a Native American legend.”