G-Sync

This city is full of so many people that it is often hard in all the hustle and bustle to recognize a true rising star in our community. Rising would imply that one is ascending, and so I must say that, having known local artist, curator, publisher, and organizer for more than a decade now,there is no other way to describe the person of George Wietor. Not only has Wietor been a part of our city’s evolving art scene and on so many platforms from co-founding the Division Avenue Arts Collective (DAAC), a DIY music and visual art facility/platform, to assisting artists realize their vision ...
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If you ask me what I love about living in Grand Rapids, I will give you a list as long as the weekends here during the warm summer months. But when you ask who inspires me, then that list shortens to a select few who truly act to move our community in a forward direction. One such person is Mayor Bliss, who in her first month in office, invited the community to join her in the reading of the book “A City Within a City: The Black Freedom Struggles in Grand Rapids, Michigan” by Todd E. Robinson. For her second year in office, she has challenged the community to read the book ...
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One need only stop by the Cook Library Center on Grandville to be immersed in pure joy of community conversation with any one of the many neighbors who visit this vital part of the Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities. The library center is also home of the Cook Library Scholars. This life enhancing program created in 2013 provides year round programming engaging with Grandville Avenue neighborhood families as they prepare their youth to achieve academic success and to train them to be future leaders. On Friday, the Cook Library Center presents a special artist reception of the work of ...
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What’s not to love about a party that began as a pop-up dance party event long before “pop-ups” existed. And Bottom40 was not born in a club but an Eastown home’s basement in 2006. And while they have not been as active as they once were in our city, the chance to revisit those glory days as Bottom40 takes the dance party reigns for a special Halloween is the stuff that legends are made of. Bottom40 returns to “The Rez” for a festive costumed affair where I dare you to stand on the sidelines as this underground event with a knack for ironic music drops ...
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It is hard to recall any locally organized, all volunteer sporting team that has achieved a coveted Top 40 ranking in a world while also carving out time to contribute to the various charities of our region, but that is the power of the our very own Grand Raggidy Roller Derby! Speaking of carving out time, this Halloween our local team will skate a double header match against the all-mighty Team Michigan and the Lansing Derby Vixens. First up at 5:30 p.m. is our Grand Raggidy Attack! team who will take on Lansing Derby Vixen’s Capital Corruption. Both of these teams are pretty evenly ...
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There are a lot of reasons to revisit our libraries these days as they have evolved with time to become so much more than a place to borrow a book. Proof of this evolution to a more community-building space is the Grand Rapids Public Library’s annual Día de los Muertos celebration at the downtown branch. This very moving exhibition created by community members celebrates the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead), a thoughtful altar creation meant to honor the family and friends who have crossed over in this life. Each year communities members from both ...
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Author Ernest Hemingway wrote, “Don't bother with churches, government buildings or city squares, if you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars” and on Friday night in the city’s East Hills neighborhood is a chance to celebrate The Meanwhile’s tenth anniversary and see first hand why it feels like the living embodiment of this famous quote. For starters, The Meanwhile represents the power of sweat equity as brother and sister owners, Jeff and Tami VanderBerg, both toiled away with friends and contractors to deliver a modern iconic bar in our city. ...
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One of the most disappointing aspects of modern society is how fast news events fall off our radar as front page headlines turn into “below the fold” stories before eventually being buried completely inside our newspapers. Two such events that have connections to our West Michigan Latinx community are earthquake in Mexico City and Hurricane Irma, which brought waves as huge as 30 feet to the island of Puerto Rico ushering in devastation to these American’s lives, infrastructure,businesses, and homes. Our local Hispanic media outlets, El Vocero Hispano, La Mejor GR radio, ...
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While some folks get really pumped about the big fall events like ArtPrize and Thanksgiving. For me, it is that chance to attend and see what the Grand Rapids Comic-Con has in store. With every passing year, this annual event just getting bigger and better with each year as our local comic showcase takes over DeVos Place (and most of downtown surrounding the convention center) as kids of all ages en masse flock often in costume to attend this fabulous three-day convention in the heart of the city. Among the highlights this weekend filled with authors, actors, and artists include animation ...
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This Saturday is a chance to be a part of a unique experience as the Grand Rapids Islamic Masjid and Religious Institute opens their doors for an event they are calling “Know Your Muslim Neighbor.” For this special day, folks in the community are encouraged to bring the family and friends to the masjid (Arabic for mosque) for a chance to learn more about the world’s largest religion. No, this is not a veiled attempt to convert anyone but a true community outreach to help our city’s curious to better understand this member of our society. While on this tour you’ll ...
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While the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) has hosted many community events over the years, I’m hard pressed to find one as inspiring as this one. On Saturday, a special sporting event will be held at MacKay Jaycees Park on the southside of the city. As reported in Rapid Growth recently, “The beautiful game that's bringing Grand Rapids neighborhoods together,” soccer is proving to be a great unifier of communities. For this special match, two teams made up of the GRPD and Latinx community members will take to the field for a special scrimmage match. This soccer ...
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Michigan has a lot of creative talent and one area where we are really beginning to flex our muscle is within the filmmaking community. Showcasing the works of our state’s filmmakers and those fans of this art form is the Grand Rapids Film Festival who, since 2009, has aimed according to its website is “to increase regional access to and overall production of quality films that provide meaningful, constructive and encouraging entertainment while harnessing the transformative power of film.” Making good on the festival’s pledge to provide more space for such celebrations ...
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While there is no shortage of visual media these days as streaming services penetrate our phones, tablets, laptops, and even our TV screens, finding content that challenges the very structure of narrative or documentary filmmaking is often a rarer breed.  Lucky for local fans of documentary filmmaking comes a film from a man with roots in our state who is on the road this fall screening his latest work, "INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place./it flies. falls./]”, to Wealthy Theatre. The story of "INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place./it ...
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After years of dreaming this day would arrive, finally the smash Broadway production of “Wicked” arrives in Grand Rapids for a fun-filled three weeks, making this one of the biggest and longest running touring shows to arrive in our city. For those who have been living under a rock the last few years, “Wicked” is a musical that tells the story of “The Wizard of Oz’s" Glinda the Good and Elphaba, who in this production is a young, green girl who will go on to become the Wicked Witch of the West. This family-friendly and visually stunning musical ...
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It is hard not to reflect on progress or the lack of as we approach the local debut of “Detroit 67” the Ebony Road Players, whose latest production will be held at the nomadic by design SiTE:LAB’s latest home/venue on Franklin Street. It has been fifty years since the 1967 riots in Detroit and over the last few months, the Motor City has commemorated this time period in our state’s history with gallery shows and tributes. Now locally comes a special two weekend performance of the play “Detroit 67” by Dominique Morisseau and helmed by first time Director ...
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While Russia dominates the news these days with talks of hacking and the tampering of the 2016 election, many folks may not know the huge debt the arts owes the Russian people who have given us some of the world's greatest works of art from fine art to theater to dance.  Playing to that deep Russian legacy comes a special night of dance from the Grand Rapids Ballet featuring four one act ballets including “Flames of Paris Pas de Deux,” “Raymonda Pas de Dix,” “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux,” and “Giselle Act II.” This special program is also a ...
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While kitten videos often can change your mood for a few minutes, imagine for a moment what a live experience for you and your own pets at the annual Animal Blessing at the Dominican Center at Marywood’s Garden of St. Francis of Assisi can do for your weekend. Known for producing events that are welcoming at the core, this annual Dominican Center service invites animals of all shapes and sizes to attend this blessing. That means expect to see dogs, cats, goldfish, bunnies, salamanders, chickens, hamsters, guinea pigs, and even pot belly pigs who have all graced the event in the past. ...
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While the Westside of Grand Rapids is often considered the destination neighborhood for Pulaski Days due to their inventory of neighborhood halls, you can actually find plenty of stops on the eastside of the city to play this weekend as you partake in all things Polish. And when determining where you will spend your Pulaski Days, you have so many options because this weekend festival spreads all over the city and includes a parade, plenty of Polish cuisine, and of course, polka dancing. There are so many options for you to consider that we suggest, before visiting Pulaski Days this year, ...
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We all face moments of uncertainty in our lives and the times we most often feel this paralysis is right before we make the leap into something new. So I’m hear to say, “Make a leap because it is good for the soul.” And that is exactly what I am encouraging you to consider this week, right as we start our weekend.   On Thursday night, you have an opportunity to add a few new moves to your dance floor repertoire as the Armentality Movement Arts Center invites folks to attend its Salsa Dancing 101 class. Salsa, with a history stretching way back to the 19th Century, is a mix ...
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While the city is packed with tourists looking at art in every nook and cranny of downtown Grand Rapids, you have a chance to escape it all…and this Saturday your ticket out is a riverboat docked in nearby Jenison.  On Saturday at 5:30 p.m., The Grand Lady Riverboat will begin boarding passengers for a special 6 - 8 p.m. sunset dinner cruise with special guest musicians, The Bootstrap Boys. The Bootstrap Boys are a popular four-piece country band rooted here in Grand Rapids. As described on their website, “They’ve been laying down country-fried originals and well curated ...
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ArtPrize has plenty of things that you can enjoy at a strolling pace, but sometimes you want to really cut loose. And for those moments there is the return of the Blue Bridge Music Festival held on Friday and Saturday on the historic Blue Bridge. Like last year, the festival will feature artists from all over the country (as well as many locals) who are competing in ArtPrize Nine via this free festival. Sure, most times when you think of ArtPrize, it is natural to pigeonhole it as a festival for what one might call traditional fine art, but as this festival reminds us again in a bold way, ...
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Grand Rapids may be Beer City, USA but if my Instagram feed of my friends living now in Munich is an indicator, then Munich is Earth's Oktoberfest City. But since a trip to Munich may not be in the cards this fall season, you can enjoy the next best thing at the city’s only Oktoberfest held at the westside’s John Ball Park. This German-styled "Volksfest," brought to Grand Rapids by our local Edelweiss Club, will feature specialty imported beer on draft, as well as many other German beers and wines. Dance to a variety of live acts, from traditional German musicians ...
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Love it? Hate It? or just ambivalent? Either way, it doesn’t matter because ArtPrize Nine arrives in Grand Rapids from September 20 through October 8 and this year it is bigger than ever. ArtPrize, an open and independently organized international art competition taking place each fall in Grand Rapids, awards more than $500,000 in prizes each year. But ArtPrize is so much more than just the prize money as the city rolls out the red carpet to artists, venues, curators, and educators to welcome their contributions to this annual art competition. In addition, ArtPrize offers music events, ...
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While everyone is dashing around downtown this Friday night, art insiders know that on Friday night is a special kick-off party from one of ArtPrize’s most popular destinations, SiTE:LAB. But unlike in years past, for 2017 this popular space-bending traveling art event will be sitting out this year’s ArtPrize 9 as they prepare their latest space for their big return in 2018. To introduce the public to their new space—a former school and later government facility— SiTE:LAB is welcoming the public to see the raw space before they embark upon the major work to overhaul ...
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Landslide: The Music of Fleetwood Mac

Friday - Sunday, Sep. 22 - 24, 7:30 p.m. (doors), 8 p.m. (showtime)
A few years ago, area musicians performed a tribute concert based on the popular album “Rumors” by Fleetwood Mac. Having attended it (and as someone who has seen Fleetwood Mac perform numerous times,) I can with confidence say it was one of my favorite musical experiences in the last decade. For starters, this band (and subsequent solo music projects) has not only produced more than 50 Billboard 100 charting songs, but 45 of those songs charted within the Top 40. And while Fleetwood Mac may have formed in 1967, they are still capturing the imagination of audiences around the world ...
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Looking to brush up on your writing skills but not willing to take on the annual National Novel Writing Month challenge that happens each November, then maybe Fiction 440 is just what you need. Started in Lansing in 2010 by Ivy Hughes, Jeff Grabill, Suban Noor Cooley, and Aaron Matthews, Fiction 440 has enjoyed a long and festive run in Lansing and has expanded earlier this year to include a new Grand Rapids chapter meeting at Creston’s Reservoir Lounge. The rules are quite simple: bring with you a completed work of fiction created around their supplied theme that is less than 440 words ...
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The city is growing. It is expanding. And hopefully, if we can continue to expand access to opportunities, then we can find a way to hack our way to a more equitable future.  This weekend is a chance for those with an idea or just curious about starting something to attend the debut of city/hacks—a free tech-focussed and inspiring event starting on Thursday and running through Sunday with special panels, guest speakers, networking socials, and, of course, a winner's ceremony.  Here is a sample of the many options this weekend offered at city/hacks from Midwest Tech Project and &  ...
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As the temperatures drop in the evening and fall’s chilling air makes you think it is time to just head for your couch with a blanket, there are other ways to keep warm this Friday. Billed as a way to start your ArtPrizing entertainment early this year comes the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s (GRAM) After Dark series with a silent dance party. Unlike other DJ events where the music is pushed to ear-splitting heights through the aid of tweeters to bassbins, a silent dance party is a headphone-driven experience perfect for those seeking to tailor the volume of their music while enjoying ...
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As I was scanning AppleTV to find some new music videos (because MTV doesn’t show them anymore), I landed on YouTube where I would stumble upon the entire concert film from Director Jonathan Demme: The Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense.” Over the course of the next 90 minutes I was just as enthralled from the couch with this infectious live concert performance as when I first saw it debut at the Goodrich Quad Cinema on 29th Street in 1984. So you can imagine the excitement when I discovered that a former singer, Mystic Bowie of the Tom Tom Club, which is composed of ...
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A lot of folks are beginning to take control of their diets, and lucky for folks in Grand Rapids, there is no shortage of options for those with special dietary needs to keep them on the path. Grand Rapids boasts more than 40 identified vegan-friendly restaurants as well as home to numerous food blogs that address the joys and health benefits of eating a plant-based diet. This weekend is the return of the annual VegFest—a vegetarian food festival held in various cities around the world to promote veganism and vegetarianism. This one-day event explores these healthy lifestyles, but also ...
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This holiday weekend, why not consider a trip just a few miles north of the city to attend a West Michigan Whitecaps Baseball game as they wrap up their regular season. And there isn’t a better time than now (Thursday, Aug. 31) to purchase a ticket to attend one of America’s favorite summer activities because admission to the 1 p.m. Labor Day game is a perfectly priced ticket at just $5. But here’s the important fine print: in order to take advantage of this special Labor Day pricing, you will have to purchase these specially priced admission by end of the day on Thursday, ...
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There are two groups of folks this weekend: those who will race out of the city to places like the mighty Lake Michigan, or those who will choose instead to explore the quiet of an emptied city. I, for one, will be part of that latter group and as I surveyed the weekend for places to land, I was happy to see a best bet for a chill brew enjoyed with an equally cool event at The Creston Brewery, who will welcome The Isaac Norris Project to this northeast neighborhood brew pub. Known for his jazz compositions released under the name of Isaac Norris, this Sunday’s popup performance in the ...
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It is no secret that one of the very first neighborhoods I explored when I moved to Grand Rapids was Eastown, and I instantly fell in love with the welcoming energy of this part of our city. It is a neighborhood business district that, with all the changes, has found a way to still welcome and balance the new with the old creating a refreshing mix. So many neighborhoods could learn from their embrace of the indigenous culture of this community. And once again we have an abundance of reasons worthy to celebrate on Wealthy Street and its tiny side pockets on Saturday, September 9 as we welcome ...
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There are no shortages of news stories about the topic of water these days, whether it be stormwater management to water rights as it relates to the First Nations’ people concerns. Even locally in a place named after the mighty Grand River that snakes 252 miles across Michigan, Grand Rapids is continuing its push to reactivate the water for a future restoration of our famed rapids (presently missing). Part of our community’s evolution around water issues and its importance is the many events locally that we host here that present an opportunity for us to learn and grow as we ...
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There is something really cool about a growing gala in our city that encourages you to ride your bike, take a bus, or even walk to attend. And that is one of the joys of the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks annual Green Gala which moves this year across the river from its previous location to the Sixth Street Bridge Park on Monroe. Each year since it started, this event helps the organization made up of community volunteers to further its mission to protect, enhance, and expand our city’s parks, public spaces, and urban forest. This year, they change the format and move to different ...
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There is no shortage of folks asking me these days where the best place to dance in the city. And while the list is getting longer each year, there is one group in town that has the best track record for packed and hot, sweaty dance floor fun: Grand Rapids Soul Club. Keeping with their mission to invite DJ’s from out of town to take over the decks, Grand Rapids Soul Club welcomes this Friday special guest DJ Shazam Bangles (Boogie Munsters and Cutz on Cutz). DJ Shazam Bangles’ roots come from an era of Chicago’s underground DJ culture where a future style of mixing would take ...
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The Spoke Folks is a gift to this community because they are all about building up our local bike culture as they serve and travel across so many diverse lines of our city. On Saturday this gem of our bike culture once again hosts a summer festival with their latest edition, Beer City Bike Fest, organizing around two things that often go hand in hand here: beer and bikes. And lest you think this is like any other festival in the city, then have I got news for you: these events are electric and teeming with life as people ride or drive in from all over to participate in the many activities they ...
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Each year the Running of the Bulls happens in Spain and each time if you are adventurous like me, you say to yourself, “I would love to do this sometime.” Lucky for you, there is a way to begin to train for such an international adventure and it happens on the streets of downtown Grand Rapids each year with the Grand Raggidy Roller Derby’s annual Running of the Bulls. Unlike the famous El Encierro (The Running of the Bulls) in Pamplona, Spain, the only risks here are skinned knees and possibly a hangover the next day as our local roller derby girls take to the streets on ...
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Each August, the folks at Yassou! begin to tempt the salivary glands of our hungry citizens when their blue and white signs start to pop up all over the city promoting their annual northeast neighborhood-based Greek Festival. Not only is this a chance to experience delicious and flavorful Greek cuisine, but each year offers an opportunity to join others in dance or just the chance to witness Greek dancing live under the summer sun. But honestly, a lot come just for the food, which includes freshly made Moussaka, Galaktobourikou, Spanakopita, and a host of other traditional dishes. The festival ...
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For those seeking a most chill time in the center of downtown, we can’t think of a more fitting festival in the city than the sixth annual GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation. This annual event seamlessly blends groups of all ages, races, and even musical ability in the audience to line the line Rosa Parks Circle’s bowl with blankets, chairs, and even long boards for a two-day festival devoted to live jazz music. This year, they welcome 11 acts over the weekend, ranging from the local to international as a diverse lineup of musicians perform at this free event. The ...
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It is not uncommon to hear of a new event popping up in the center of the city, but festivals in neighborhoods are a bit rarer. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned of the Creston neighborhood’s brand spanking new “Best of Creston” event. This new Best of Creston is a hybrid street fair and music festival inviting neighbors and the Creston-curious to tour these area businesses and eateries that have been popping up here at a very organic, healthy pace. I have personally enjoyed how they handle growth up here on the north side because it does not overwhelm the ...
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If 50 years ago was the Summer of Love, then this year in Grand Rapids it is the Season of Drag as everything from festivals, arts centers, and even the recent RuPaul’s Drag Race stage tour has been a colorful and creative addition to the city’s entertainment landscape. On Tuesday night, eleven girls will battle it out over the next few weeks in pursuit of the crowning title at this year’s Grand Rapids Drag Race (GRDR). Celebrating their third season at Rumors Nightclub on South Division Avenue, each Tuesday the contestants perform a special theme or task as they compete in ...
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Ends of the Earth: New work by Todd Freeman

Opening Friday, Aug 11, 5 - 7 p.m. (through Sept. 10, 2017)
Looking to explore the depths of our city’s illustration community? Then head to Madcap this Friday as they welcome artist and illustrator Todd Freeman to this popular downtown coffee shop. Freeman is known for his inquisitive just off of center design approach to common imagery that under his hand becomes alive with intrigue. With his latest art exhibition of watercolor drawings, “Ends of the Earth,” Freeman guides us through a sort of time travel via a series of new images that evoke the joys of exploration. Freeman remains one of the most interesting artists of our city ...
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People may vote and sway opinion about who is best in "_____" but most critics like me can agree that one of the most interesting people in our city is Hugo Claudin, who has continued to evolve our city’s counterculture street cred one invite at a time. And given that he has a couple decades of practice now, the acts just keep coming with such ease. This Friday, Claudin welcomes musician Diane Patterson to his Avenue for the Arts Mexicains Sans Frontieres. Patterson is on the last leg of her third nationwide tour with a stop in Grand Rapids to play at this intimate performance ...
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If you have not been to a library in the last decade, then you have missed how libraries all over the world are shifting our views of what a library can be in a very digital world.  And who would have guessed back then that the place known for “shhhh” noises is becoming so much more lively. (It is a good thing.)   The Kent District Library invites locals to join them on a journey beyond books and the walls of their institution to very special SuperPartyWonderDay. This special event features so much of what we love about our region as good beer, tasty BBQ, local bands, and bikes are ...
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In keeping with Rapid Growth’s theme this week of focusing on those locals who are creating an impact on our illustration/art culture of West Michigan and beyond, we are happy to see former Grand Rapidian Charles Soule of Team Curse Words ending their Wizard Van Tour in Grand Rapids. Soule is traveling with fellow Team Curse Words artist Ryan Browne and will arrive with their special van at downtown Grand Rapids’ Vault of Midnight for a chance for fans to hang with the artists and have them autograph your favorite memorabilia from this popular literary series. This summer of 2017 ...
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This is something really intriguing about the Grand Rapids Public Library’s after hours screening of the 1968 classic film “Night of the Living Dead” at Stonesthrow in the Creston Neighborhood. Personally, I cannot recall another time in our history when a local furniture showroom in the city has hosted a film like this, which makes this event very intriguing. But most importantly, it is the selection of Director George Romero’s classic horror film that should have folks lining up out the back door at Stonesthrow to see this original zombie picture. The story is quite ...
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No plans this Friday night but are itching to get outside?  Then head north of downtown to Riverside Park on Friday night for their ongoing summer series, Food Truck Fridays at Riverside. This midsummer series that runs until September 1 brings the best of the area food truck culture to this wooded park set on the mighty Grand River. Each week, you can expect a slightly different lineup with August 4 including Blue Spoon, Pizza Parliament, Do Your Wurst, Dalty Raes Great Lakes Ohana, Grand Food Truck, Nordic Grille, Ananda Ice, Mooches Dream Cream, Underground Cookie Club, and LuLaRoe Kaylee ...
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While many visiting the city will want to visit places like the Grand Rapids Art Museum for a concert or an art exhibition, or maybe sit along the banks of the Grand River for a movie in the park, but for others, they seek a different path that is to many, hidden. Rapid Growth recognizes that there are hidden gems all over the city and on Friday, downtown’s Dwelling Place invites you to tour four hidden gardens of downtown at this special one night only event. This free event (that you must RSVP to attend) starts at the Avenue for the Arts office at 120 South Division and features a ...
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There seems to be no shortage of events that happen in our more developed areas of the city like East Hills or the new westside district. However, don’t discount many of our tiny neighborhoods who are hosting an array of small-ish events with big impact on their communities. One such event is the annual Midtown on Tap held each year since 2013 on the expansive Midtown Green park, which often has the feel of a sheep’s pasture given its natural rolling landscape. At this years 5th annual event, you are invite to try the hand crafted goodness of many of our state’s craft ...
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