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Summer SOULstice Gemini/Cancer Party: Starshine time as season kicks off

By the time Friday night rolls back around in the summer months, the city can seem like it is a ghost town as folks head to the big (or smaller) lake(s). 

Lucky for us, on Thursday night there is a Summer SOULstice party brought to us by Grand Rapids Hip Hop Coalition, Totem Soul, The Love Movement Inc. at The BOB.

This soul themed, dressed-to-impress event is emceed by Love Movement’s Governor Slugwell with special guest artist 97.3 FM’s DJ Rush the Guillotine spinning on the 1s and 2s all night.

Did we mention that this solstice-focussed event is also a celebration of the star signs of Gemini and Cancer

The solstice is the longest day of the year, so show up while the sun shines high in the air to celebrate this official kick off of summer at the Summer SOULstice Gemini/Cancer Party.

Tickets can be purchased in advance with ladies garnering the biggest offer with free admission if they enter the club before 9 p.m. on Thursday. 

Best of Creston Street Fair and Festival: Summer is the best time to venture North

For many neighborhoods of Grand Rapids like those of downtown and Eastown, street festivals are a huge part of the summer fun in the city. But some neighborhoods have not enjoyed the decades-long run of such activities. 

One such district that is stepping out more and more with an amazing array of events is Creston, which will once again host their Best of Creston Street Fair and Festival

This newish annual event gives attendees a chance to meet the many local business owners and artisans who hail from this part of the city at this special four-hour street party. 

Held on Plainfield Avenue between Spencer and Lafayette, the event will host street vendors, a kids game area, live music, a beer tent, and even a mini-antique car show. (After all, the North Quarter, which has hosted car shows for years until recently, really loves classic cars.) 

Scheduled to perform this year at the festival’s two stages are Sailing Weather, The Fabulous Vans, The Strain, and the Four Lincolns. 

If four hours of street partying is not enough, then head on Saturday to Eastown for the return of Bizarre Bazaar! This annual neighborhood association-led festival is held on Wealthy Street on Saturday, June 23 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Grand Rapids Water Festival: Music and the environment get a moment in the park

There are two things that go hand in hand with summer: music and water. And lucky for you, a fix for both is available in one spot this Saturday as Riverside Park welcomes the return of the annual Grand Rapids Water Festival.

Presented by the Grand River Watershed Arts and Music Council, the Grand River Water Festival is a one-day music event where local and regional music talent share the stage with inspiring environmental speakers.

This day long, free event features local vendors as well as nonprofit organizations who are committed to environmental services and will be providing engagement opportunities for attendees. They will have a story tent again this year where folks can record their reflections about water and its meaning in their lives.

The Grand River Water Festival kicks off with a Native American blessing and runs with an alternating schedule of speakers and musicians on stage until 9 p.m. 

The festival uses performers to lure in folks to attend and, between acts, guest speakers share inspiring information and insights on environmental issues as they relates to water quality, its importance, and preservation. 

Scheduled to perform this year at the 2018 Grand River Water Festival will be Evolucion, Hawks & Owls string band, Fauxgrass, Dede and the Dreamers, Seth Bernard, Molly, Yolanda Lavender, Peter “Madcat” Ruth, and Aspen Jacobsen.

Family Frolic at The Zoo: Seeking to end homelessness, one area agency gets creative

Thanks to the generous support of Eastbrook Homes, on Sunday night you will have a chance to take the kids (ages 16 and under) to the zoo for free at the Family Frolic at the Zoo.

This very special, first time event benefits our local Family Promise of Grand Rapids. It is also unique because at most fundraisers, parents often have to leave the kids at home. 

This is not the case at the Family Frolic at the Zoo; this event allows parents wanting to be a part of the homelessness solution in our city to enjoy a night out with the kids in tow at our local John Ball Zoo (and during a time when the zoo is typically closed).

The night will include raffles, game prizes, a scavenger hunt, as well as lots of animals. The night’s festivities are hosted by WOOD TV8’s Emily Linnert. 

To entice folks to come out to support this brand new event, Family Promise of Grand Rapids, in addition to offering free admission for the kiddies, has secured a generous match for the first $20,000 raised on this night. 

So bring the whole clan out to the Family Frolic at the Zoo this Sunday, June 24 from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. for a chance to have some fun while doing the most good. 

Loving Day Celebrations: A community picnic, dance, and stage play

The Ebony Road Players are once again producing a series of events to commemorate Loving Day with a Saturday community family picnic/dance and then on Sunday at Wealthy Theatre the play "Neither There, Nor Here." 

This annual observation is held to commemorate the victorious Loving vs. Virginia Supreme Court case of 1967 in which the Supreme Court of the United States struck down state laws that sought to ban interracial marriages.  

At Rosa Parks Circle on Saturday, attendees of the Loving Day Community Family Picnic and Dance will enjoy food merchants, local vendors, and musical acts to encourage folks to mix and mingle at this celebratory event. The organizers even invite you to dance as a community to the music provided throughout the early evening. 

At this family-friendly affair, you will have a chance to participate in a dance lesson, hula-hooping, sidewalk chalk drawing, and even temporary hand-painted designs for your face.

On Sunday “Neither There, Nor Here”—an original, multimedia, interdisciplinary memory play-meets-cooking show—will take to the Wealthy Theatre stage. 

The play focuses on the experience of people with liminal identities of race, gender, culture, and sexuality who live between so-called traditional binaries in order to create their own cultures that move beyond more typical either/or identities—all through the lens of a live televised cooking show. 

As the performers tell their stories, family photos will be projected onto the set, allowing each story to spill into other more theatrical modes, from table-top theater, to strange dances, to a pop song sing-along. This is sure to be a lively, fun, and insightful night of theatre.
 

Grand Rapids Pride: 30 years of celebrating our city's LGBTQ

Every year and traditionally during the month of June, cities all over the world celebrate their community’s LGBTQ citizens. Grand Rapids is no different and on Saturday, our local Grand Rapids Pride will celebrate 30 years of providing space for our LGBTQ to celebrate their accomplishments but also reflect on the road ahead. 

Pride began as the Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 and was created to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1969. 

At our local Grand Rapids Pride, you will have a chance to meet area organizations and businesses seeking to connect with attendees, as well as a lively stage program from our area drag queens, big entertainment acts like En Vogue, David Hernandez, Betty Who, and of course, lots of icy, cold beverages to quench your thirst on this traditionally hot June day.


 

Be the Astronaut: Cheaper than the real thing and just as challenging

Be the Astronaut is an exciting new exhibition at the Grand Rapids Public Museum that seeks to provide an exciting experience all the while exposing kids (and adult kids) to  STEM-infused content via the marriage of an physical exhibit with cutting edge video game technology. 

Guiding the visitors on this journey is a crew of virtual experts who help deepen the space exploration experience throughout every stage of the exhibit. 

Guests learn what it takes to fly a spaceship, pilot a lander, or drive a surface rover. After this brief training, you are ready to jump into a simulator that takes you on a virtual journey of the universe. 

“Through STEM based hands-on activities that are scientifically verified by NASA experts, this exhibit lets our community travel to space from right here at the Grand Rapids Public Museum,” said Dr. Stephanie Ogren, Director of Science at the GRPM.

In each space capsule, a monitor serves as the ‘windshield,’ giving visitors a first-person view of their adventures. Touch-screens and an industrial-quality joystick put visitors in command. 

According to the museum, the entire cockpit comes alive with animated lighting effects, game visuals, and sounds that make visitors believe they are astronauts. To add more excitement to the event, special companion robots move about the hall and interact with guests.

This traveling exhibition seeks to recreate those concepts common to all space flights, inviting patrons to imagine themselves in this futuristic storyline. 

And lest you think the experience is reflecting the imaginary space of a software designer with no real space experience, then you’ll be happy to learn that the cockpit is scientifically verified by experts at NASA for accuracy and feasibility.

And as we learned from the staff at the museum who have already tried their hand at landing the capsule, this is challenging stuff to navigate. 

Be the Astronaut opens on June 16 and runs through September 16, 2018.  Tickets to the exhibition can be purchased here.

Drink + Draw: GRBC's Studio Night partners with AIGAWM (again)

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of our design community of West Michigan simply because so many here are creating some truly remarkable designs. Don’t believe me? 

Then check out this article on a project that showcases our history and the women devoting their lives to make sure we know this legacy.

So if you are looking to stretch creatively or just want to doodle the night away this Monday night, then head downtown to the Grand Rapids Brewery Company (GRBC) for the return of AIGA West Michigan’s community-building Drink + Draw event.

Whether you work on a laptop, tablet or sketchbook, bring them to work on at this special partnership edition of GRBC’s free-to-attend Studio Night and get 25 percent off your tab.

And if you need something to prime your imagination, the folks at AIGAWM will have materials available to decorate lunch bags for local nonprofit Kids' Food Basket. 

If you do attend, event organizers ask that you tag your photos from the event with #AIGAWMcraft.

1968 Tribute Show: A modern take on music from 50 years ago

Friday, June 8, 8:00 p.m. (doors), 8:30 p.m. (showtime)
Typically when a nostalgia act arrives in town, I am the first to head for my headphones to drown out the noise. But one revival trend that keep reappearing here is the tribute show series hosted by downtown entertainment venue The Pyramid Scheme.

For the latest installment of the Tribute Show, music artists from a variety of local acts have come together to form pop-up acts recreating their versions of classic albums released in 1968.

Featured at this one night only performance will be four albums released in 1968: “Folsom Prison” by Johnny Cash, “Dance to the Music” by Sly & The Family Stone, “Cheap Thrills" by Big Brother & the Holding Company, and “Creedence Clearwater Revival” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. 

Some acts will attempt faithful recreations of these popular albums, but others will perform modern tricks of pure sonic pleasure, producing moments of unexpected joy. Scheduled to tackle these four albums of distinction from 1968 include The Bootstrap Boys, Hey Marco!, Oracle, Afro Zuma, Bello Spark, Hazy Past, The Outer Vibe, and many others.

Grand Rapids has been home to tribute shows from Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” to Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew,” to the memorable 2016 all-star musician tribute to David Bowie. With that much history to guide us and with such star power on one stage, why miss a chance to relieve these classic albums performed for our modern era?

Friday's 1968 Tribute Show benefits the Well House.

Movies on Monroe: Double your fun with The Greatest Showman & Big

It used to be when Movies in the Park was debuting in the area, the social media spaces would be filled with folks debating what flick they felt should be included in the summer lineup of films screened free for the public.

But this year, the questions has shifted from talk of movie titles to whether one would sit or not on pavement as the popular event moves kitty-corner across the river to the site of a new park in the process of being developed.

Personally, I am used to events shifting over time in the city, so while I will miss the old location, I understand that this is a leap to a new location that will, with time, become a more solid choice for a host of developing reasons. (See GR FWD Plan. LINK) 

Sure, we will miss the cushy grass under our butts, but with an extra blanket or a portable chair, you should be back in the spirit of the night as you and thousands flock to catch a film with friends and fellow citizens.  (Hint: This year you can rent an affordable chair for watching the featured film from Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.)

As with every year’s series, you can expect plenty of pre-movie entertainment with photo booths, food trucks, balloon animals, musical entertainment, and even special guest hosts. 

Kicking off the summer 2018 Movies on Monroe (formerly known as Movies in the Park) series is a true blockbuster of a double feature with “The Greatest Showman” (sponsored by The KnottyBits Sideshow) and “Big” (from Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc.) debuting at the new location on the banks of the Grand River. 

Movies on Monroe Star Partners include Linc Up, the Latino Community Coalition, Disability Advocates of Kent County and the Grand Rapids Pride Festival 2018.

The #MoviesOnMonroe series is produced by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. in partnership with MSU Gran Fondo, Studio C - Grand Rapids, Driving Change - Grand Rapids, Mobile GR, The City of Grand Rapids, The Rapid, Local First West Michigan, Monroe North Business Association - Grand Rapids, MI, Grand Rapids Community Media Center, Charlesbrook Protection Services, Grand Rapids Food Truck Association, Kent County Health Connect-Tobacco Free Parks, WYCE and LiveSpace. 

And remember: if it rains, the show is cancelled. There are no rain dates. For a complete list of the films being screened this, summer please visit this link.

Creston Brewery Street Party: Local neighborhood gone to the dogs

Forgive me, but the Creston area is going to the dogs as the Creston Brewery presents the first of a series of summer events geared towards celebrating in the streets the joys of urban living via communal gatherings. But on Saturday they invite the community to celebrate the joy of dogs at the Creston Brewery Street Party: Doggos.

For one day only, they will close down Quimby Street to welcome you and your fuzzy friend to join you for a day devoted to drinking, entertainment, and all things dogs.

While the event will feature area businesses and organizations who work with our furry friends, this new event, hosted by the Grand Rapids dog walking company Nature of the Dog, will be inviting folks to join them later in the day on a neighborhood dog walk starting at 4 p.m.

Highlights of the day include Fido & Stitch offering a"fur friendly" tattooing station at 2:00 p.m.; A Pleasant Dog will teach your pup tricks and host a kissing booth; and Greendog Photography will capture all the fun with stellar candids. You can even learn more about the area’s popular Shaggy Pines Dog Park—one of the top ten dog parks in America.

You can even dress up your four-legged canine and enter them in a costume contest at 3:30 p.m. First and Second place prizes total more than $200!

This street fair vibe will include live music starting at 2:00 p.m. from Sailing Weather complete with local DJ's spinning serious classic vinyl to keep you and your pet dancing throughout the evening.

See you out in the streets …with treats this Saturday!

39th Annual Homecoming of the Three Fires Traditional Pow Wow

With the mighty Grand River in sight, the 39th Annual Homecoming of the Three Fires Traditional Pow Wow returns to Grand Rapids Riverside Park, offering an opportunity to experience and learn about the rich, cultural heritage of our first people's lives.

And while you will have plenty of opportunities to mingle and query folks about the meaning and cultural impact of our local Pow Wow, nothing is more visually compelling visually than watching the awesome pageantry of the Grand Entry. 

During this portion of the program, an Eagle Staff guides the Grand Entry, which is leads to the presentation of flags, dancers, as well as drumming. 

This year’s Pow Wow will once again feature three Grand Entries with two on Saturday ( 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.) and one on Sunday (noon).

In addition, the Three Fires Traditional Pow Wow booths provide space where folks can grab a bite to eat or purchase something from an approved Native American vendor.

If you have missed this riverside Pow Wow in the past and had hoped to attend, please set aside time this weekend to learn just a bit more of the history of this place from the people who have been telling our region’s story long before most arrived here.  

Pow Wow organizers remind Rapid Growth readers that this is a strict drug- and alcohol-free event, so arrive sober please. They also ask that you do not bring your dog(s) to the event and under no circumstances should you leave them in the car. Service dogs are always welcome at the annual Homecoming of the Three Fires Traditional Pow Wow.

Realm of Flight: Crowd favorite migrates back to Grand Rapids zoo

Opening Saturday, May 26 (through Sept. 3, 2018)
Migrating back to the city this summer is the return of the exciting crowd-favorite exhibition, The Realm of Flight. This live bird show returns to John Ball Zoo for a second summer starting on May 26 and will run until September 3, 2018.  

Realm of Flight is exciting live bird theatre and features 10 incredible bird performers who will showcase their distinct talents at this zoo summer series. 

Folks who attend will be treated to a story-telling parrot, a recycling raven, and even an eagle that will fly over your head.  

Added to the show this year will be an Eurasian Eagle Owl, a green-winged macaw, and an Abdim’s stork. 

The Realm of Flight bird show comes to the Zoo from the World Bird Sanctuary, known internationally as a first-class bird conservation organization. The WBS is dedicated to the propagation, rescue, rehabilitation, and preservation of birds—especially birds of prey.  

“I hope guests take away a new appreciation for birds and how to help the environment,” says Realm of Flight supervisor, Kate Burkman. “A big point of our show is conservation and we want to make sure people know how easy it is for them to help the environment at home.” 

Realm of Flight is presented three times a day in the amphitheater in the Forest Realm (and close to the Amur tigers.). Tickets for this special show are just $2.00 with each paid general zoo admission. For more showtime info, please visit the zoo's website for performance dates/times.

Egyptian Lover: From mixtapes to center stage, a legend of electro and hip hop arrives in GR

Like many teens of his era, Egyptian Lover (aka Greg Broussard) started his early days in electro and hip hop by creating mixtapes. His love for remixing spanned across many techniques from his early days of live rhythming over radio broadcasts that he would turn into recordings to his triumphant hit singles “Egypt Egypt” (1984) and “Freak-A-Holic" (1986).

"Growing up in the 'hood, the first thing you want to do is to get out of there. In my mind, I took myself out of there, just took myself to any place I could find, which was probably Egypt at the time," he says. Egyptian Lover used the name long before he started DJing. "All my friends were gangsters, and they had their names on the backs of their jackets. You had Mr. Guns and you knew that he was the guy with the guns. I had Egyptian Lover on the back of mine. I ain't no gangster, but the women liked Egyptian Lover, so I stuck with the name.” (from "7 Things You Should Know About Egyptian Lover.")

Once Egyptian Lover joined famed Los Angeles Uncle Jamm’s Army, an American hip-hop crew, his years of touring with this icon act would go on to solidify his reputation as one of the greats from this era of music.

On Friday Egyptian Lover, one of dance music’s most innovative performers/producers from that (now) classic, old-school/electro era, will roll in to The Pyramid Scheme for Grand Rapids Soul Club (GRSC). This show is sure to kick off your Memorial Day Weekend with a real bang.

“Egyptian Lover is a pioneer in Electro from his early days with Uncle Jamm’s Army to present day he keeps the freaks moving,” says Mike Saunders of GRSC, “We are fortunate to see him perform [locally].”

Purchase tickets in advance here.

Festival of the Arts: Music, dance, art, and meat on a stick

Festival of the Arts arrives back into downtown with all the boldness of Alexander Calder’s La Grande Vitesse that inspired it.

However, it was not always love at first sight. In 1969 when La Grande Vitesse was installed in front of City Hall in downtown Grand Rapids, it was thought by many to be a waste of money or ugly. 

This 43-foot-tall, vibrant red stabile over time would melt locals’ hearts as the city would come to adopt the symbol, adhering it everything from street signs to taxi cabs, and even the city flag. 

In fact, I am fairly certain that this warming up to love “the Calder” (as locals call it) has a lot to do with Festival organizers, whose labor each year centers on the sculpture. They even produce an annual event poster that is beloved by many visitors and residents ever since. (The poster pays homage to Calder each year by including a reference to the artist or his work.)

This three-day community event features several stages of performances for music and dance, a juried Regional Arts Exhibition at KCAD, and too-many-to-mention food booths run by non-profit organizations, with a few offering meat on a stick.

As an added bonus, while the main outdoor aspects of this weekend event happen June 1-3, the juried Festival Art Exhibition opens early on Wednesday, May 30, from 5 to 9 p.m. at The Fed Galleries at KCAD. The opening night artist reception will feature all the winning and juried artworks on display as well as a chance to meet the artists attending. This special art exhibition will run through June 23.
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