The10th Annual Empire Asparagus Festival will be held May 17-18, 2013 and features a slew of asparagus-themed events including a Street Dance & Pig Roast from 7-10 PM Friday, a fun run (or walk), Asparagus Eats/Wine and Beer Tasting, Asparagus recipe contest, the Asparagus Parade, chalk art, music & dance and kids games and a 7 PM Finale Fun Food with Live Music on Saturday night. You can get all the details on the tasty eats and drinks below!
There's a reason Empire touts itself as the apex of asparagus-a vegetable whose short growing season begins in early May and flows into June. The area's sandy soil, plentitude of water and temperate microclimate-fostered by Lake Michigan, make this the perfect place to nurture wild and farmed asparagus. In fact, Michigan ranks third behind California and Washington as a producer of this commercial crop which garners the state a surprising $29 million annually.
Truth be told, only one local farmer, Harry Norconk, runs a 240-acre asparagus-growing business south of town. But what the heck, this slender green harbinger of spring grows wild all over the place. And while surrounding towns, for years, positioned themselves as prime purveyors of cherries, morel mushrooms and wines, Empire decided to become the Valhalla of that savory veggie-the asparagus.
BREAKING NEWS ALERT VIA THE ABSOLUTE MICHIGAN NEWS NETWORK!
EMPIRE, MICHIGAN APRIL 1, 2013 - Residents of the sleepy Michigan shoreline villages of Empire, Glen Arbor and Leland were surprised as they awoke to see the Lake Michigan beach covered with the latest Great Lakes invasive species to threaten our shores, lobsters.
Dr. Molly Trapp, director of Michigan Sea Grant's new Invasive Species Rapid Response team (ISRR), is heading the team and was one of the first to arrive on the scene. "There are a variety of ways that invasive species enter the Great Lakes," Dr. Trapp explained. "Many come in in ballast water of freighters are are dumped, while others are pets that people release when they can no longer care for them. That's likely what happened here, and I just wish people would think a little bit before they take on the responsibility of an exotic pet."
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Under Superintendent in Charge of Beach Security, Stan Daround offered comment as well, "We want to assure everyone that we remain the most beautiful place in America despite this crustacean invasion. Park staff is working on a plan to combat this menace."
While Mr. Daraound was unable to provide specifics, he offered that the Park would probably be asking for "a lot of bibs and some of those claw cracker things" in their emergency appropriation request.
The village of Empire, already overtaxed preparing for their annual Asparagus Festival next month, has called all residents to an emergency eating in the Empire Town Hall at 6 PM.
Area resident Michael Buhler offered a simple plea: "Send butter."
Glen Arbor’s annual ode to winter will take place again this year with the Glen Arbor Winterfest, on Saturday, February 18th!
The Glen Arbor Winterfest is sponsored by the Glen Lake/Sleeping Bear Chamberand takes place Saturday February 18. Highlights include a perch fishing contest, a chance to "fish" for deals at Glen Arbor stores and the Chili Cookoff at Boonedocks along with live music and plenty of warmth from the cozy wood-burning fire pits on the deck. Don't miss the video of the Cookoff courtesy Michael Buhler and the Glen Arbor Sun below!
A pair of fun winter events are on tap for next Sunday...
The annual Cedar Winterfest happens from 1-3 PM at the Snowmobile Club 2 miles north of Cedar on Schomberg Rd.
You're invited to bring your winter sleds, tobaggans, saucers, cross country skis and snowshoes for a Sunday afternoon of fun. They'll have a bonfire to warm you on the outside and hot chocolate and snacks to warm your tummy. Free and open to the public!
The fifth annual Roy Taghon Memorial Snowmobile Ride begins at 1 p.m., Sun., Jan. 22, at the Empire Airport and continues to the Maple City Fitness Center, behind Kerby’s Bar and Grill, 172 W. Burdickville Road, Maple City. Whether riding on a sled or driving, all are welcome to participate in the fun-filled afternoon. Hot dogs and chili will be served at 2:30. Suggested donation is $7 per adult, $4 per child.
All proceeds benefit the Roy Taghon Music Scholarship Fund which provides an annual music scholarship for Glen Lake High School students. Roy lived in Empire and was an avid snowmobiler and church organist for more than 30 years. For information, call (231) 326-5519.
There is no better way to get outside and burn off some of those extra holiday calories than by joining a Park Ranger at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on a guided snowshoe hike every Saturday. Meet at 1 p.m. at the Visitor Center in Empire for these popular weekend afternoon adventures. They take place every Saturday, starting on January 7, 2012 and going through the month of February. Dress in layers, wear waterproof boots, and don’t forget to take your camera along to capture the wonders of winter.
Park Rangers meet interested snowshoers inside the Visitor Center to first provide basic snowshoeing instructions, and then directions to a trailhead or off-trail area pre-selected by the Park Ranger. If you do not have your own snowshoes, the National Park Service will loan you a pair free of charge (they are limited to 30 participants so email or call them to pre-register). While exploring outside, the Park Ranger will encourage participants to inquire and learn about winter’s effect on the park’s unique features. Be prepared to be outside until about 3 p.m.
Not only is snowshoeing easy, fun and good exercise, it is also an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages. The Park Ranger-led hikes are mildly strenuous, yet they proceed at a leisurely pace for no more than one and a half miles. This allows visitors an opportunity for discovery, adventure, and to look for signs of wildlife or evidence of ancient glaciers. Some snowshoers simply want to experience and enjoy a winter wonderland, which is what you will find at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
There is no charge for the programs, however, participants need to display the park entrance pass or have an annual pass to join in the fun. Reservations are not required, but are suggested, especially if you wish to borrow snowshoes or are with a group. Please call (231) 326-5134, ext. 328, for details and to make reservations. For more in-depth information about Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, visit www.nps.gov/slbe.
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore invites you to join them at the Visitor Center Auditorium in Empire this Saturday, December 17 at 1 PM for a shipwreck program presented by diver/historian Ross Richardson.
The shipwrecks of the Manitou Passage have attracted underwater explorers for decades. Today, the underwater photography of these explorers allows landsmen to visit the shipwrecks from the comfort of a warm, dry chair. Ross Richardson has spent the last decade searching for and documenting shipwrecks off the coast of west Michigan. He is credited with discovering the location of the legendary steamer Westmoreland, which sank south of Sleeping Bear Point in 1854.
Offshore of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore lies the Manitou Passage. Although this 36-mile long waterway offers some protection from the open waters of Lake Michigan, even the waters of the passage can be treacherous. Many ships seeking shelter sank in this passage, hitting shoals and sandbars and running aground before being destroyed by the waves of Lake Michigan. There are 16 known shipwrecks in the passage and around the Manitou Islands, but there may be as many as 45 wrecks still undiscovered on the bottom. Many wrecks are well-preserved and offer clues on how they surrendered to the strength of the big lake in the days before advanced navigation when ships relied on basic tools like a compass, clock, and chart.