Lilac Island: Mackinac Island’s Lilacs & Lilac Festival

Mackinac Island Lilacs and Lilac Festival

Fort Mackinac & Lilacs, photo by Steven Blair

The 66th annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival starts tomorrow and runs through June 14th. It celebrates the Island’s historic varieties of lilacs (many from the Colonial era) and equestrian culture and is one of the Island’s biggest attractions.

Apparently it’s “Lissa Edwards Goes to Mackinac Week” on Michigan in Pictures as I turn again to one of my favorite writers for her take on the Lilac Festival.

Metaphors for islanders and their favorite shrubs are easy pickings. Lilacs are tough as native islanders (or native islanders are hearty as these flowers?). Like their human counterparts, lilacs thrive in the cold Straits of Mackinac winters; neither lilacs nor island folk shrink from sinking their roots into the island’s craggy limestone bedrock. In fact, they crave that acidy terra firma. And last but best, lilacs prefer their soil the way these islanders like their beer: well drained.

When the long, cold winter and cool spring finally ends, Mackinac lilacs show their joy by transforming the island into a fairyland of blossoms. Cotton candy–colored tinkerbelles tempt from behind white picket fences. Big bold creamy Madame Lemoine lilacs strut next to a fluttery pink and white Beauty of Moscow in Ste. Anne’s churchyard. Down at the marina, where voyageurs working the Great Lakes fur trade once pulled their canoes, blue President Lincolns wave next to white Betsy Rosses. A froth that includes double pink Elizabeths and dark purple Monge spills out over the rolling green lawn at Marquette Park. And the gauzy backdrop to them all: the anything-but-bourgeois, lilac-colored common lilac.

The island is home to all 23 lilac species, some 400 varieties and thousands of individual plants. In June—and even into July in the case of late-blooming varieties—these flowers radiate their perfume into the windy Straits, where it melts into the aroma of warm fudge wafting from Main Street’s famous fudge shops and fresh horse apples (cars are banned on Mackinac Island) to create a signature Mackinac Island scent.

Read on for lots more.

View Steven’s photo background bigtacular on the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival’s Facebook and see a bunch more lilac photos from Mackinac Island on his Photography by Blair Facebook.

More lilacs and more Mackinac on Michigan in Pictures.

Finally Friday: Michigan Morel Edition

Finally Morels in Michigan

Finally, photo by Julie

Reports of morels are coming in from all across the state. They’ll be celebrating our delicious woodland friends this weekend (May 8-10) at the Mesick Mushroom Festival and next weekend (May 14-17) at the National Morel Mushroom Festival in Boyne City.

If you’re looking for Michigan morel photos and features, click that link for a ton from Michigan in Pictures. Happy hunting!!

Julie says these plus a few others will make a great topping for a ribeye! View the photo bigger and see more in her Spring/Summer slideshow.

Tulips, Tulips, Tulips

Tulips, Tulips, Tulips

Tulips, Tulips, Tulips, photo by Dawn Williams

Holland’s annual Tulip Time starts this Saturday (May 2) and continues through May 9th. The annual celebration features parades, music, displays of Dutch Heritage and of course tulips, 4.5 million of them!

Dawn took this photo last year. See it background bigtacular on Flickr and check out more of her Tulip Time photos.

More tulips & Tulip Time and more spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Photographer Friday: Bill Schwab

Pier Ruin, Cross Village, 2006

Pier Ruin, Cross Village, 2006, photo by Bill Schwab

One of my favorite Michigan fine art photographers is Bill Schwab, and I still remember the day when I pulled up the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr to find he’d added some of his photos to the group, including the one above.

This morning I learned that he will be presenting an artist lecture “Across Iceland” for the Charlevoix Circle of Arts:

Fine art photographer, Bill Schwab has been taking photo-expeditions to Iceland since 2009. He will share some of his favorite photographs of Iceland’s harsh, yet beautiful, landscape. Schwab is also the founder of PhotostockFest held annually in Harbor Springs. The Artists Adventure Lecture Series are free and open to the public.

Click above for more on the event and visit the Charlevoix Circle of Arts for more about them. Bill’s PhotostockFest takes place June 18-21 and you can register and get details on workshops and the event at that link.

The photography site RFOTOFOLIO has a great interview Seeing the Beauty: Bill Schwab that starts out:

My father’s side of the family was very much into photography. My Great Grandfather, Frederic C. Lutge had a portrait studio in late 19th and early 20th century Detroit and it branched out from there. My father always had interesting cameras and my uncle had a darkroom. I was fascinated by the gear. Even when I was too young to have a camera, I would draw pictures of them. After cutting them out I would pretend to use them and then draw the pictures “taken” with my cut out cameras and show them to people. Apparently I was hooked at an early age, but it wasn’t until I was twelve that I started processing and contact printing my own film from an old Ansco kit. After that, it is all a blur.

…Growing up in Detroit, pretty much everyone worked in the automobile manufacturing industry and I knew very well at a young age that wasn’t going to be my destiny. I can remember very clearly my dad asking me what I wanted to be at about age five. I said that I would get a job like his and he basically said, no way. Then there was my mom with her unbridled curiosity. She was an early news junky and I seriously think she missed her calling by not going into journalism. The major happenings of the day were right there on the TV during dinner and I was very aware and interested in what was going on. We had subscriptions to Life Magazine and Look and I loved to go through the pages looking at the photographs.

Read on for lots more and some beautiful photos.

View Bill’s photo of the ruins of the pier at Cross Village bigger on Flickr and see lots more from across the state in his Michigan slideshow. You can view and purchase prints at billschwab.com. He’s a good follow on Facebook and also just started up an Instagram @bill_schwab, so you might want to follow along there too!

More Michigan photographers on Michigan in Pictures.

2015 North American International Auto Show

Infiniti Q30 Concept Car

Infiniti Q30 Concept Car, photo by Rich

The 2015 North American International Auto Show starts this Saturday (Jan 17) and runs through next Sunday (Jan 25). Held at the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, it remains the premier show for car enthusiasts. For a sneak peek, have a look at CNN’s highlights which appear to be split between “muscular” and “efficient” (unsurprising spoiler: muscular wins 70/30).

If you do attend, consider going on their photo day (Jan 20) for early access. In any case, if you are packing a camera  you might want to enter their 2015 Photo Contest which offers five different prizes of $200 each.

View Rich’s photo from last year’s show background big and see more in his Detroit – 2014 NAIAS slideshow.

More about NAIAS/Detroit Auto Show on Michigan in Pictures.

ArtPrize 2014, now with Fish on Rocks!

Catfish

Catfish, photo by Robert Bradley

ArtPrize returns to Grand Rapids for its 5th year next Wednesday and runs September 24 – October 12th. The 19 day event turns downtown Grand Rapids into a free & open art competition for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes. While you can certainly debate the merits of ArtPrize and the art displayed, there’s no question that this is one of the most engaging and immersive art events in the country.

You can check out the 2014 entries right here, look back through the years on their History page, and also see a video from 2013 that captures some on the flavor and fun. The only way to really experience it is to go, something that I heartily recommend!!

This is part of Kevin Sudeith’s Contemporary Petroglyphs installation along the Grand River.

View Robert’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his ArtPrize 2014 slideshow (which I expect will grow in the weeks to come).

Lots more ArtPrize on Michigan in Pictures!

The City of Riesling is being built in Michigan

Old Mission Peninsula

Old Mission Peninsula, photo by Trent Strohm

“You have fantastic Michigan wines, but Riesling is hitting the target every year.”
~ wine writer Stuart Pigott

With the TC Film Fest yesterday and today’s post, it appears that it’s “me time” on Michigan in Pictures. City of Riesling is a brand new wine event I am working on. It takes place July 26-28 in Traverse City and is focusing the attention of the international wine community on Michigan Rieslings.

The guest of honor for a weekend of celebration of “Planet Riesling” is none other than Stuart Pigott, likely the world’s leading authority on Riesling wine and one of the most entertaining people in the wine biz. He’s a British born wine writer who has lived in the heart of Riesling culture in Germany and dedicated years to changing people’s opinion about Riesling. When I interviewed Stuart he told me, “Riesling’s range goes from bone dry to honey sweet, from feather light to tongue heavy and every single gradation and combination of those things. No other grape variety can do that.”

One of the great things about Riesling is that it does very well in Michigan, which is considered one of the rising new Riesling regions. We have more Riesling in the ground than any other varietal, and plantings are on the rise. In today’s TC Record-Eagle, my friend Bryan Ulbrich of Left Foot Charley called out one factor that I believe is making Michigan Rieslings stand out, what wine aficionados call terroir, the climate & character of the place a wine is grown. “It’s really a transparent grape. It reflects where it was grown more than any other grape variety. You can’t hide the vineyard in this one.”

It’s really the same thing that makes our fruit some of the best in the world – Michigan is a beautiful place to grow things.

Anyway, if you’re interested in attending, there’s a giveaway you can enter until 5 PM today that gives you 2 tickets to the Riesling Oyster Riot on Sunday afternoon, 2 tix for the Night of 100 Rieslings on Sunday and 2 tickets to any one of three sessions at the Salon Riesling symposium on Monday. Details right here!

Trent writes: “We spent the day driving the Old Mission Peninsula … sandy beaches, historical lighthouse and fresh fruit stands … the ‘spine’ of the peninsula is dotted with vineyards that thrive in the temperate climate created by the surrounding lakes … reminded us of the Rhine Valley … beautiful”

View his photo background bigtacular and see more in his Michigan USA slideshow.