Northern Michigan Arts & Culture

Northern Michigan is a place with incredible natural beauty and varied landscapes. It is also home to Interlochen Center for the Arts and several other longstanding cultural institutions. Little wonder the region has been so attractive to artists and musicians of all types. Here we bring you those stories. 

Dave Mertz reaches for a spoonful of chili during The Downtown Chili Cook-Off at the Park Place Hotel.
Dan Wanschura

Last Saturday, nearly 1,600 hungry people stopped by the Park Place Hotel in Traverse City. It was the 28th annual Downtown Chili Cook-Off and this year visitors tasted 20 different varieties from local restaurants. 

Essay: Cleanliness

Jan 11, 2019

My mother was fond of saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” as she pointed me toward my bedroom.  It was years before I discovered this wasn’t one of the Ten Commandments, wasn’t even in the Bible. 

A new documentary remembers Interlochen's glacial history to the present.
Chris Hintz

When the lumber industry moved into northern Michigan’s forests, settlements popped up everywhere. But when the trees were gone, the lumber camps moved on to new areas and the communities left behind would often fade away.

A new documentary tells the story of why the village of Interlochen was different.

 


Essay: Circle of Light

Jan 4, 2019

I am walking in my neighborhood on a winter day and see a mother pulling a small child on a sled. As they cross the street, the sled bounces down a curb and suddenly I feel the jolt and it is my mittened hands gripping the wooden frame.

Essay: Chronic Illness

Dec 28, 2018

Sometimes when our family was on a trip, my father would start driving wildly and too fast.  We begged him to stop but he was ornery, rebellious.  My brother and I were terrified, my mother furious.  But Dad wasn’t drunk; he was having an insulin reaction—and needed something to eat. 

Essay: Tell Me

Dec 21, 2018

My mother loved Christmas. The decorating began early and covered every available surface:  holly on the banister, stockings on the mantel, candles on the tables. My father used to joke that the electric bill went down because we lit the house with candles.


Ludington has installed a new synthetic ice rink at the James Street Plaza.
Dan Wanschura

The city of Ludington recently installed a new synthetic ice rink downtown, right in the middle of James Street Plaza.


Nearly 100 people gather to hear the Benzie Central Chamber Choir perform at Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville on Saturday.
Dan Wanschura

A quarter mile into the woods at Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville, you’ll come across an outdoor amphitheater surrounded by tall trees. Around dusk on Saturday, the Benzie Central Chamber Choir filled the woods with Christmas songs.


Essay: Cat Person

Dec 14, 2018

Early on a Saturday morning I was pushing my cart around a grocery store, trying not to cry. Trying not to notice the aisle of pet food where just two weeks before I had bought a bag of cat chow, not knowing my cat would get sick three days later and die soon after. I still imagined her at home in the window waiting for my return.


Bill Church, theatre director at Interlochen Art Academy, performs a section of 'A Christmas Carol' at Interlochen Public Radio.
Dan Wanschura

The Traverse Symphony Orchestra performs its “Home for the Holidays” concert this weekend.

Bill Church, theatre director at Interlochen Arts Academy, will give a dramatic reading of a section from “A Christmas Carol.” 

National Writers Series: An evening with Diana Gabaldon

Dec 9, 2018
Nancy Castaldo

Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling “Outlander” series of novels begins by telling the story of a young nurse during World War 2. She travels back in time to 18th century Scotland. Diana has published eight “Outlander” books, and she says her ninth one, called Go Tell the Bees that I Have Gone, should be released in 2019. The books have been developed into a popular TV show on Starz. Diana talks this hour with Deb Leonard, a member of the board of directors for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, and a bookseller at Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor.

National Writers Series: An evening with Benjamin Percy

Dec 9, 2018
National Writers Series

Benjamin Percy’s writing could be classified as genre fiction, but with a twist. His book Red Moon is about werewolves, but it’s also a commentary on the war on terror. And his newest novel, The Dark Net, is a techno-thriller that imagines the sordid corners of the Internet as full of actual demons. Benjamin talks this hour with his friend and fellow writer, Jeremy Chamberlin. Their conversation was recorded at the Traverse City Opera House in September 2013. Percy started the discussion talking about his appetite for books as a child. 

 

National Writers Series: An evening with John U. Bacon

Dec 8, 2018
Halle Meyers

John U. Bacon is a journalist, commentator and educator, and he’s written books on sports and business. His latest book tells the tale of a historical event that isn’t as well-known as it probably should be: the great Halifax Explosion. In 1917, a French ship carrying volatile explosives was hit by another ship in the harbor in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The resulting fire caused the ship to explode, which resulted in a disaster killing and injuring thousands.  John U.

National Writers Series: An evening with Richard Clarke

Dec 7, 2018
Halle Meyers

Over his long career in public service, Richard Clarke has been an adviser to presidents Reagan, Clinton, and both Bushes. His 2004 memoir Against All Enemies was critical of multiple administrations for their lax approach toward counter-terrorism before and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and of the Bush administration’s decision to wage war in Iraq. Richard has also written four fictional thrillers.

Essay: Better Than

Dec 7, 2018

No one used the term “sex education” when I was growing up; in fact, no one used the word “sex.” Whatever information we gathered about this mystery was from glimpses and whispers, from eavesdropping on adults and gossiping with peers.


Jeffrey Cobb leads the 40th Annual Messiah Sing at Central United Methodist Church in Traverse City on Sunday.
Dan Wanschura

For the past 40 years, people have been gathering at Central United Methodist Church in Traverse City to sing Handel’s Messiah. Last Sunday, about 600 people pushed through the doors for what’s become a northern Michigan Christmas tradition.


Essay: Being a Dog

Nov 30, 2018

When I was about eight years old, I decided I wanted to be a dog instead of a little girl.  I announced this to my parents and my father said, “Good for you.  That sounds interesting.”


Lee Erck smokes his pipe in the basement of his home just outside Marquette.
Dan Wanschura

Just off U.S. Highway 41 outside of Marquette, there’s an old man who lives alone in a small, one-bedroom house. Most days he's upstairs sitting at his desk or downstairs in his workshop. There he makes some of the best tobacco pipes in the world.

 


Weekly fishing report - 11/29/18

Nov 29, 2018

Doc Elliott of The Northern Angler in Traverse City, updates us on this week's fishing report for northwestern Michigan.

The Clinch Park tunnel in Traverse City will soon be home to new public art. The city commission unanimously approved the location and $10,000 in public funding for the project on Monday. Artists around the country will now submit designs for the tunnel walls.

Essay: School Bus Driver

Nov 16, 2018

When my daughter was in elementary school, we lived on a hill in the woods. The school bus picked her up at the bottom of the hill and in the afternoon I would watch for her to come home.

 


Changes are coming to The Bay Theatre in Suttons Bay. The Bahle family has decided to stop managing the theater at the end of this year.

Theater Manager Erik Bahle says they’re tapped out physically, financially and emotionally.

He says he hopes the community will take over management and eventually ownership, and there is already energy and enthusiasm around this.

"This really is the start of its life," says Bahle. "This isn't the end of anything."

Weekly fishing report - 11/15/18

Nov 15, 2018

Doc Elliott of The Northern Angler in Traverse City, updates us on this week's fishing report for northwestern Michigan.


National Writers Series: An evening with Tayari Jones

Nov 11, 2018
Tom Haxby

Tayari Jones has written four novels, including Silver Sparrow and The Untelling. Her latest book, An American Marriage, is a love story challenged by racial injustice. Tayari talks this hour with fellow writer Aaron Stander, author of ten crime novels and host of Interlochen Public Radio’s “Michigan Writers on the Air.” Tayari starts by telling Aaron why she prefers writing her books on a typewriter.

National Writers Series: An evening with Amy Goldstein

Nov 10, 2018
Tom Haxby

Amy Goldstein is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and a long-time staff writer at the Washington Post. Her book Janesville: An American Story is about the city of Janesville, Wisconsin, whose General Motors plant closed during the Great Recession. Amy talks this hour with Shannon Henry Kleiber, a radio producer for To the Best of Our Knowledge from Wisconsin Public Radio and PRX. Shannon asked Amy to start off by reading from her book Janesville.

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