Imagine strolling through displays of beautifully designed juried contest quilts, hanging like something from a royal palace. Then move in your imagination to the next room and take in the visually stunning Stitch Like an Egyptian exhibit. Next, gape at Canadian artist Esther Bryan’s celebrated Quilt of Belonging. Imagine no more: you can see all of these amazing quilts—and lots of others—on display at DeVos Place from during AQS Quilt Week in Grand Rapids (August 20 –23, 2104).

Canadian artist Esther Bryan’s Quilt of Belonging

Quilt of Belonging by Esther Bryan. Image courtesy of AQS.

This year, attendees can also vote for the winner of the inaugural Young Textile Art Challenge. Textile artists between the ages of 18 – 30 were invited to submit work for this event, which offers more than $3,000 in prize money. In addition to the top 3 entries, which are selected by contest jurors, one entrant will receive a $1,000 award based on public votes. [read more…]

It’s time to head to West Michigan and warm a restaurant seat while soaking up the waning summer, because Restaurant Week Grand Rapids is happening Wednesday, August 13 to Sunday, August 24. If you’re curious, we covered the Restaurant Week need-to-know details on the blog here. Restaurant Week menus (hot off the presses!) and information for each participating restaurant can be viewed at RestaurantWeekGR.com. Now, let’s turn to Grand Rapids City Twist for dining inspiration.

Grand Rapid's Restaurant Week

GR City Twist is an interactive tool for exploring Grand Rapids, with a wheel that you twist to find experiences that fit your interests and passions. There are 18 different personalities to select – from Thrill Seeker to Treasure Hunter to Fresh Foodie. Create your own list of personality-based activities and attractions and spin the wheel at GRCityTwist.com. [read more…]

Art Van Sports Complex

Art Van Sports Complex photo courtesy of West Michigan Sports Commission

West Michigan is home to many unique and inviting attractions for locals and visitors alike, and one more is being added to the already impressive list. The Art Van Sports Complex (AVSC), a flagship project of the West Michigan Sports Commission, opens August 2 and 3 in Rockford and features eight baseball and softball fields, a 385-foot fenced in championship field and the only Miracle Field in West Michigan for players with special needs.

“We are excited to host nearly 300 athletes for the All-Star Weekend presented by DeMarini featuring baseball and fast-pitch softball,” Bryan Baar, complex manager for AVSC, said. “Players of all ages from Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan will travel to Grand Rapids and experience our facility first-hand.”

The campaign to build a premier travel baseball/softball complex began in 2010 by the West Michigan Sports Commission. While there are ball fields in Grand Rapids and along the lakeshore, there weren’t any locations that could host weekend and even weeklong events. Art Van Furniture learned of the project and through various meetings and discussions with the sports commission, decided to become the naming rights sponsor and lead the fundraising effort through their donation. This sponsorship enabled the sports commission to begin construction and help bring the complex to life. [read more…]

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Regular Experience Grand Rapids blog readers know we love food, beer, wine, and fun with friends. When I say we, I certainly mean the resident team of bloggers… but I’m also talking about Grand Rapidians. We’re constantly celebrating our city and one of the best places to do that is at the table. It’s the best time of the year for farmers markets and gardeners (holy summer squash!), which means locavore chefs are smiling, too. So whether you’re a West Michigan resident or planning a visit (welcome), it’s time to warm a restaurant seat because Restaurant Week Grand Rapids (RWGR) is upon us.

Let’s start with the need-to-know. RWGR 2014 happens Wednesday, August 13 to Sunday, August 24. Sixty restaurants offer three-course tasting menus featuring their culinary team’s skills and the West Michigan harvest. It’s an invitation to leave your oven off and gather at a local restaurant to soak up the waning summer.

Three-course menus are $28 per person, though you’ll find two for $28 at several restaurants: Lindo Mexico, Rezervoir Lounge, Fajita Republic and Osta’s Lebanese Cuisine. Check out Fajita Republic’s DIY guacamole – fresh haas avocados with a selection of toppings (spiced pepitas, pico de gallo, bacon, chiles, oh my!) that you can mix until your heart’s content. [read more…]

A father and son enjoy a  day riding the mountain bike trail at Kent County's Luton Park. The trail was built and is maintained by the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance.

A father and son enjoy a day riding the mountain bike trail at Kent County’s Luton Park. The trail was built and is maintained by the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance.

More than 60 miles of mountain bike trail can be found in and around Grand Rapids, making this bike-popular city a haven for off-road cyclists. There are easy trails that wander through fields and forests, technical trails to challenge advanced riders, and some that become popular gathering spots for people who enjoy mountain biking.

What many don’t know is all 11 trails to date are maintained by enthusiastic local riders, members of the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance (WMMBA).

“We surveyed riders and were amazed to find more 50-plus riders than teens and 20-year olds,” said Grandville realtor, Kevin Allen, the 47-year old president of WMMBA, a chapter of the International Mountain Biking Association. “Many were professionals, well-established people. We asked whether they knew who maintains the trails. Everyone said ‘the local municipality or township.’

“When we told them it was WMMBA they said ‘I had no idea. How can I get involved?’ It was an absolute eye-opener. We estimate 5,000 to 7,000 riders use the trails. Maybe 1,000 know who built them. About 300 are members.” [read more…]

GRandJazzFest-Logo-for-Web-Header

It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy, jazzy…and free! The third annual GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation is coming back to Rosa Parks Circle for two family-friendly days of free music and fun.

GRandJazzFest runs Saturday, August 16 from noon until 10 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 17, from noon to 8 p.m. and primarily features Michigan-based jazz artists.

“This year’s lineup, like the past two years, puts the spotlight on the incredible diversity of the jazz art form – Latin jazz, Big Band, Contemporary and so much more. Those who love jazz will be in heaven and those who are new to jazz will fall in love,” said Molly Klimas, one of the festival organizers.

The event will host 10 acts including Saturday night’s headliner trumpeter Rick Braun, who has toured and recorded with Rod Stewart, Tina Turner and Tom Petty. [read more…]

Pick Your Patio: Grand Rapids Offers Plenty of Outdoor Eating Spaces!

by Lyndsay Israel July 3, 2014

Everyone knows that summer flies by, so make sure you make it count.  Move the eating, drinking and being merry to a patio near you!  Recently, the Michigan laws regarding patio construction have been clarified and don’t require a fence or a barrier between you and the street. I’ve highlighted a few of the finest […]

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“Michigan Modern” Exhibit Highlights Midcentury Design From Our Region

by Meagan Francis June 26, 2014

Bold, geometric shapes. Pops of bright color. Lines and materials echoing industry and prosperity. All were hallmarks of the modern design movement, and designers, architects, artists and manufacturers from Michigan played a huge role in its evolution. From automobile and watercraft design to distinctive midcentury furniture, to revolutionary architecture and office design, Michigan’s role in […]

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Grand Rapids is Booming! Fireworks and More for the Fourth of July

by Melody VanderWeide June 19, 2014

FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATIONS AROUND GRAND RAPIDS West Michigan is brimming with options when it comes to Fourth of July Fun! Local communities are going all out with fireworks, festivals and parades this year. Show your stripes and take your family out to one of these great hometown Independence Day celebrations! This year, Celebration on […]

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Coming Soon to a (New) Bus Stop Near You: The Rapid Silver Line

by Kirsetin Morello June 17, 2014

People ride the bus for a variety of reasons, among them saving money and being “green.” The Rapid’s new Silver Line is upping the convenience factor and the benefits; if you haven’t ridden the bus before, this may be the time to give it a try! Beginning August 25, 2014, Grand Rapids will have a […]

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