Free Birds

free Birds

Free Birds, photo by David Clark

Here’s a pretty cool shot taken last weekend from high above the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Lake Michigan. For reference, if he took this from where I think he did, those people are above a dune bluff that’s several hundred feet high.

View David’s photo big as the sky and see more in his Sleeping Bear 2015 slideshow.

Waltz Hour at the Earthwork Harvest Gathering

Earthwork Harvest Gathering Waltz Hour

The Waltz Strings, photo by Myrna Jacobs

Next weekend I will be on my way to the annual Earthwork Harvest Gathering at Bob Bernard’s Earthwork Farm near Lake City to help the incredible crew of people who put together this uniquely Michigan festival.

It’s a weekend packed full of tremendous musicians on 4 stages, engaging workshops and a wide range of activities for all ages. As Myrna writes, the Waltz Hour held in the farm’s cozy and acoustically amazing barn is definitely one of the highlights:

This whole thing was so absolutely wonderful. The floor was full of people waltzing. I felt like I was in a dream.

View Myrna’s photo bigger on Facebook and definitely check out her #EarthworkHG album.

Superior Flight

Superior Flight

Superior Flight, photo by Cory Genovese

Cory writes:

Have a Yoop-tastic weekend and be sure to get your Superior flight on ;)

I’ve got an amen for that!

View cory’s photo bigger, see more in his Yoop Life slideshow and definitely follow him at PhotoYoop on Facebook!

Spraymasters Water Ski Club: Skis Optional

Barefoot Ski Line

Barefoot ski line, photo by Mark Zacks

This looks like fun. The Spraymasters Water Ski Club says:

Our team was founded in 1987 by Bob Dowling. We have continued to grow and perform since then. For anyone unfamiliar with show skiing, it is made up of exciting acts that are not normally seen in recreational water skiing. These acts include barefooting, ballet line, doubles, swivel skiing, and pyramids up to four tiers high.

Throughout the summer, we perform our themed shows at our home site on Big Lake in Davisburg, Michigan. We also perform numerous shows for other lake associations and organizations around the state. Furthermore, Spray Masters is a part of the National Show Ski Association (NSSA). The team competes in several tournaments each summer as a team as well as individual performances.

The team starts preparing for each season before the ice is even off the lake. Beginning in February we practice in a gym learning the new moves we are going to perform that year. We practice pyramid climbing, doubles, trios, showmanship and dances. We usually start water practices in May and practice twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer. Our first show is usually in late June, and continue through late August.

Head over to their website for a calendar of their performances.

View Mark’s photo background big and see more of his lake photos on Flickr.

More summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Festifools #1 calling Festifools #9

Festifools Ann Arbor

FestiFools: puppet painting, photo by Myra Klarman

The annual Festifools returns to Ann Arbor next Sunday, April 12 at 4 PM. The event is in its 9th year, and they explain:

A new local tradition, kicking off Ann Arbor’s outdoor festival season, FestiFools is a gigantic public art spectacular, created by members of the community and U of M students. Magnificent, huge, bizarre, politically incorrect, human-powered papier-mâché puppets join thousands of Foolish friends frolicking about downtown for one fun-filled hour. Don’t miss out on this eight annual celebration of foolishness!

Myra took this photo back in 2007 as she documented the very first year of what has become an Ann Arbor tradition. View her photo on Flickr and definitely check out her 2007 FestiFools April 1st Parade slideshow.

Pure Michigan launches “Winter 360” Tourism Initiative


Pure Michigan announced an exciting new tourism initiative called Winter 360 today. Spokeswoman April Phule explained:

“We all know that ice cave tourism has been really a big deal for Michigan these past few winters, but of course as soon as it melts all those ice loving tourists head to places like Siberia, the Yukon and Pellston. Pure Michigan is focused on bringing as many people as possible to the state, so our staff decided to think outside the box.

We talked with the folks at Boeing and they are loaning us a fleet of six 757s that will be outfitted with 167 specially modified Frigidaire freezers. Each will generate approximately -87,000 BTUs, enough to blanket shorelines in ice while keeping the air at Michigan’s usual balmy summer temperatures. The planes will fly designated stretches of shoreline in Grand Haven, South Haven, Muskegon, Leelanau County, Saginaw Bay, Lake St. Clair and along Grand Island in the Upper Peninsula.

We’re calling it “Winter 360” and we expect it to add $37 million to Michigan’s economy this summer!

More as we learn it.

Heikki Lunta alias Hank Snow alias the Guy Responsible for the Snow

Houghtons Heikki Lunta

Hancock’s Heikki Lunta, photo by Mark Riutta / Defined Visuals

I know that many folks in southern Michigan are wondering where the heck all this snow came from. Last night I realized that a friend of mine was actually responsible!

Yooper Steez tells the Legend of Finnish snow god Heikki Lunta:

The name is now often associated with an annual winter festival in Negaunee, but it’s creation is linked to an annual snowmobile race held in Atlantic Mine. In 1970, the U.P. was having one of those winters where it doesn’t snow as much as we might like, which was threatening the success of the race. To increase support, radio salesman David Riutta wrote the “Heikki Lunta Snow Dance Song.” This song created the fictional Heikki Lunta as a creature that lived in the backwoods of Tapiola, twenty miles south of Houghton, and would perform a dance to make it snow. The song went on U.P. airwaves and was a success, and incidentally it did snow that year, causing the snowmobile race to be postponed on account of too much snow.

The song gained popularity enough to be mentioned on “The Today Show” and “The Tonight Show,” and the radio salesman was even invited to sing the song for winter events in California.

As anyone who has been through an Upper Peninsula winter knows, the snow can become relentless, and by the end of that winter, Riutta wrote “Heikki Lunta Go Away,” which is now often paired with the initial song.

The name Heikki Lunta comes from the Finnish translation of the name Hank Snow, like the popular country and western singer.

Read on for more including videos of the Heikki Lunta Song by Da Yoopers and also see Heikki Lunta – A Modern Copper Country Folk Hero at If you want to go in depth, Hilary Virtanen presents a detailed and fascinating history of this distinctly Yooper phenomenon from 1970 to the present day with press clippings and more in Not Just Talking About the Weather: Tradition, Social Change and Heikki Lunta (use the dates on the left to navigate).

View Mark’s photo bigger and see his work at Defined Visuals on Facebook.

PS: When he’s not making it snow, Adam is also a fantastic photographer. See his work, some of which is potentially NSFW depending on where you work, at