Kalamazoo Summer Festival Lineup for 2013

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Cue the music:

Remember Sly and the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime?

End of the spring and here she comes back

Hi Hi Hi Hi there

Them summer days, those summer days

That’s when I had most of my fun, back

high high high high there

Them summer days, those summer days …

Hot fun in the summertime!

Maybe, like me, you’re longing for those summer days.  Or maybe, also like me, you’d just be satisfied with some perfect Spring weather first.   Either way, I predict Summer will eventually come, and the festivals that make up Kalamazoo’s own “Hot Fun in the Summertime” will soon be upon us.

You don’t want to wait too long to start planning for a trip to Kalamazoo this Summer if you’re looking for Festival fun.  We do only have the 10 rooms, you know!   The Arcadia Creek Festival Place is right downtown, just a few blocks from the Kalamazoo House B&B.  That means you can walk to the festivals, walk to dinner, walk to shopping….you get the idea.

You can plan ahead now for Greek Fest, Island Fest, Rib Fest, R&B/Funk Music Fest, Blues Fest, Irish Fest, Taste of Kalamazoo and more.  We’ve recently updated our website’s “Upcoming Events” page to give you dates and links for all the annual festivals in downtown Kalamazoo.  There’s something fun happening nearly every weekend all Summer long.  Why not click on over and check it out?

frontporch

It’s certainly been a long winter, but Summer will come—I’m almost sure of it.  Don’t miss out on the chance to stay at the Kalamazoo House, enjoy our delicious breakfasts, relax on the porch, and then enjoy the music and food of all the best Festivals of the summer.

Terry and I are looking forward to welcoming you to our own special part of Southwest Michigan!

Cheers,

    Laurel

PS—  Oh, and about that song that’s going to be running around in your head all day?  You can thank me later.

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“Wine Not?” enjoy a glass or 2 during Michigan Wine Month?

WineMonthPoster1

April is Michigan Wine Month, all official and declared by Governor Snyder and everything!  And “Wine Not?” celebrate Michigan Wine?   It’s an important — and growing — (not to mention FUN) — segment of the state’s economy.  Here are a few facts not everyone knows:

  • Michigan grape-growing regions are similar in climate and land characteristics to the best wine-producing regions of France and Germany.
  • As of 2012 there were 92 commercial wineries in Michigan with the last 11 added just since 2011.images
  • Michigan is the 4th largest grape producing state in the country.
  • Most of those grapes grow within 25 miles of Lake Michigan.
  • And the largest of Michigan’s 4 major wine trails is the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail right here in southwest Michigan.

All of this bodes well for visitors to Kalamazoo and SW Michigan because it means you’re never far from a vineyard, a winery, or a tasting room.  Here are some of the closest tasting rooms to the Kalamazoo House B&B:

Tempo Vino Winery:

  Tempo Vino Winery of Kalamazoo     Tempo Vino Winery, right nearby in downtown Kalamazoo, is a fun spot to taste a menu of 20 wines, including their “In the Mood Merlot”, “Alla Terra Barolo”, and “Alex’s Amore Amarone” and their popular  “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo” house red and white wines, to name just a few.  They feature seasonal wines too, like this Spring’s “Green Apple Riesling” and this past Winter’s especially yummy “Chocolate Raspberry Port.”

Make wine at Tempo Vino WineryEspecially fun is the chance to make your own wine at Tempo Vino.  Bring a group of friends and schedule a private wine tasting & wine-making party.   Alex will help you create your own batch of wine.  Then come back in a few weeks for a bottling party.  They’ll even help you  design special labels.

Lawton Ridge Winery:

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A short drive from the Kalamazoo House brings visitors to the production facility and the tasting room of Lawton Ridge Winery.  All of the wine produced by Lawton Ridge comes from grapes grown either in their own vineyard or in neighboring vineyards in the Lake Michigan Shore AVA

imagesSome of my Lawton Ridge favorites include the “AZO Red” and “AZO White” (AZO is the airport code for Kalamazoo).  Besides being tasty wines, they sport beautiful labels  featuring paintings of local artist Rick Herter.  I also especially like their “Two-Handed Red”, Lawton Ridge’s award-winning “Sweetheart Red”, and their fabulous “Vidal Ice Wine”.

Cody Kresta Vineyard & Winery:

UnknownIn an idyllic setting in the beautiful SW Michigan countryside near Mattawan, Marylou and David Butkovich are living the dream with 3-year-old Cody Kresta Vineyard & Winery.  According to an MLive article when they opened to the public in June of 2010, they actually met in 1986 at a barndance on the property.  After buying the place, they’ve spent years remodeling the 1882 homestead and barn, planting acres of vineyards, and making wines first as a hobby and now as a respected boutique winery.

Now Cody Kresta welcomes visitors in their lush Tusk0612cody2jpg-2781a44a2dfda591_smallcan-inspired tasting room with a patio that overlooks the vineyards.  Their wine is sold only in the tasting room, which is open every weekend and other days during the summer months.  Taste all their wines, including their “Mystique Red” and their “Chambourcin”and their “Cabernet Franc”, which won 2013 Best of Category at the 6th Annual Lake Michigan Shore AVA  Wine Evaluation.  And don’t miss an opportunity to try their several late harvest whites and their ice wine!

The wineries of the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country:

I could go on and on about the many wineries and tasting rooms within an easy afternoon of the Kalamazoo House, but for all the details you need, visit the website for the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail.  You can visit 13 wineries and tasting rooms within an hour or two of Kalamazoo in the beautiful SW Michigan countryside:

Lake-Michigan-Shore-Wine-Trail-Map.mediumthumb

For the entire state of Michigan Wines, get the magazine:

For a free copy of Wine Country – Wine & Touring Guide, a terrific annual guide published by the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, click the photo:

winecountry

And the best part about staying at the Kalamazoo House during Michigan Wine Month– or anytime?

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After an afternoon enjoying the wines and wineries of Southwest Michigan, you can park your car and refresh yourselves in the luxury of our beautiful B&B in downtown Kalamazoo.

Room #7's decadent bath

Soak in a jetted tub or enjoy a rain-shower, and then venture out to restaurants and nightspots of this vibrant small city.

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After a terrific night’s sleep on luxury linens, followed by Chef Terry’s delicious breakfast, you’re ready to find the rest of the tasting rooms you missed the day before!

“Wine Not” call me and reserve your room today?

Or book online at http://www.thekalamazoohouse.com.   We’re looking forward to seeing you!

                                                                       Cheers,   Laurel


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The “Kalamazoo Gals”, the Fretboard Festival, and the Kalamazoo House connection

Some B&B guests come and go, and we only meet them once, while others return again and again and become like part of the family.  All of them have interesting stories, and some of them make interesting stories while they’re here.  This tale involves one of our earliest guests and a fascinating story he has uncovered about the “Kalamazoo Gals” who made special “Banner” guitars for the Gibson Guitar company during World War II.

Kalamazoo Gals book cover

The book jacket

The story begins five and a half years ago, a few months after Terry and I bought the Kalamazoo House.  We were riding our bikes along the Kal-Haven trail on a perfect Sunday autumn afternoon when my phone rang.  A fella by the name of John Thomas told me he wanted to hold a special “afternoon tea” at the Kalamazoo House a couple of weeks later.  That phone conversation was the beginning of a fun and rewarding relationship that is coming full circle next weekend.

John with Buddy's Guitar 1
Besides being an attorney and a law professor in Connecticut, John happens to be an accomplished finger-style guitar player who loves Gibson guitars which, as any guitar aficionado knows, were made only in Kalamazoo until the company moved to Nashville in the 1980‘s.  (This photo shows him playing Buddy Holly’s Gibson, but that’s a whole other story.)

Now, for this tale to make sense, you need to know that during WWII the Gibson company put the banner on their guitars that said  “Only a Gibson is Good Enough.”  You also need to know that these “Banner Gibsons” are very high-quality instruments which have become collectors’ items.  And you should know that the factory had converted to make war-related products and the company claimed not to be producing guitars “until the boys come home.”

Gibsonbanner2

The thing was,  John knew they had produced many guitars during the war years.  He was particularly intrigued when he saw this photo of the company’s workers taken during the “Banner Years” showing that the “craftsmen” were almost all women:

John smelled a good story and he was hooked.  He found company records that showed Gibson actually produced over 20,000 guitars during that time.  He wanted to meet as many of the women who had worked for Gibson in those years as he could find.  By the time he called me, he had already tracked down some of the women (who were by then in their 80s and 90s), and he was coming to town to interview them.  He wanted to hold a tea for them and their family members as a way of honoring them and thanking them for agreeing to trust him and talk to him about their work at Gibson.

(Between you and me, I think most of the ladies thought he was a bit nuts for thinking there was anything particularly remarkable about their work at Gibson Guitars because it didn’t seem particularly remarkable to them — but John was persistent and good-natured and he won them over.  In the process, he got the good story he was looking for.)

And now, 5-1/2 years later, John is coming back to town with his newly published book Kalamazoo Gals: The Story of Extraordinary Women & Gibson’s “Banner” Guitars of WWII (American History Press, 2013).   When he told me a few months ago that the book was at the presses and he was looking for a good time to come back to Kalamazoo to see the “gals” again and to introduce the book, we were delighted to realize that the Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival (March 23) might make the perfect launching pad.

fretboard

During his upcoming Kalamazoo visit, John will hold a book signing at Bookbug, and he’ll present his book in a lecture at the 2013 Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival.  He’ll host his “Gals” at one more afternoon tea at the Kalamazoo House.   And maybe most rewarding for us, he has promised to find time to sit with us and play his vintage Gibson one more time for the innkeepers and our guests.   We can’t wait for next weekend!

John Thomas and Terry, Fall 2007 - Version 2

Here are some links to recent interviews and news reports about the “Kalamazoo Gals” project:

Voice of America

NW News Network

NBC New York
NPR program Soundcheck
Fretboard Journal video
Guitarkadia

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Kalamazoo House’s Hot Glass package was perfect for a girlfriends weekend

Do you know what makes an innkeeper’s day? It’s when she sees her guests making the most of their time and truly enjoying each other.

Sheena & Naeemah, friends since college, came to the Kalamazoo House B&B to catch up, relax, and have fun.  They took advantage of our “Warm Hearts, Fine Wine & Hot Glass” package and had a terrific time trying their hands at glass blowing.

Sheena and Naeemah

IMG_3500 Sheena and Naeemah and their beautiful creations

It’s pretty obvious from these photos that they created lovely vases and that they were tickled pink with how they turned out.   Many thanks to the folks at West Michigan Glass Art Center for once again showing folks who’ve never blown glass before that they can do it!

                                                                      Cheers,

                                                                                  Laurel

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Skiing, anyone? Kalamazoo area ski slopes are white!

ski

This winter blast that we’ve been having has opened the door to winter sports in a big way.  If you like to ski, check out two ski facilities convenient to the Kalamazoo House Bed & Breakfast that are open and ready to give you a wintry good time.

Bittersweet Ski Resort has 20 runs for skiing and snowboarding, and you can view a web cam on their website.bittersweet

Timber Ridge Ski Resort has 15 trails for skiing and snowboarding, and they offer tubing as well.

timberridge

And then after a day of winter fun, what would be nicer afterwards than a beautiful room with a fireplace and a jetted tub, cookies & milk before bed, and a delicious fire-lit breakfast?

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Give us a call while the weather’s perfect!

Cheers,

    Laurel

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Hurry to enjoy Les Miserables LIVE

Les Miserables

Word on the street this morning — and by that I mean in our Breakfast Room — is that the national production of “Les Miserables” that rolled into Miller Auditorium last night is not to be missed!  And this morning’s MLive review agrees.

A few interesting facts.  Our guests last night who saw the opening show came from Chicago to see it here rather than when it played in the big city with the same cast.  They decided the lower ticket prices at Miller made it a good bet for a night away and helped pay for their room and dinner in Kalamazoo.  They were stunned by the size and quality of the theatre.

Guests coming tomorrow are coming all the way from Green Bay for this show.  Maybe they had the same thought.  Hmm.  Others from central Indiana and Ohio.

This is an extremely limited run, from now through Sunday.  As of this morning when I checked, there are still seats available for all shows, and we actually still have at least one room available every night they’re here.

So if you’re in the mood for a last-minute theater treat, you’ll want to plan quickly!

Cheers,

        Laurel

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Warm up with Kalamazoo House B&B’s glassblowing and wine package

As the temperature bottomed out this morning at -1 Farenheit, I was thinking about nominating the inventors of Cuddlduds and other really thin long-johns for an award, because I can wear them without looking like a polar bear who’s bulked up for the winter.   Then I started thinking about the other best ways to stay warm, and I came up with a few good ideas to share.  Here’s the first:

Kalamazoo House B&B’s “Warm Hearts, Fine Wine and Hot Glass” package starts with a two night-stay in one of our beautiful fireplace rooms (where you might also have a jetted tub if you choose wisely).  That’s the “warm hearts” part.  Once you’ve picked your room, adding on the package adds:

Tempo Vino Winery of Kalamazoo

Enjoy wine tasting and get $20 of merchandise as well as mulling spices.

Wine tasting for two at downtown Kalamazoo’s own Tempo Vino Winery.  You’ll taste their lovely wines and ports, and you’ll receive complimentary mulling spices and $20 in merchandise.  That’s the “fine wine” part.  And for the “hot glass” part….

West Michigan Glass Art Center

It’s impossible to be cold when you’re working with molten glass at a 1600-degree glory hole!

A 3-hour glass blowing session at the West Michigan Glass Art Center.   The talented instructors there will show you how it’s done and then help you each create a beautiful bowl or plate or glass to take home.  You’ll be amazed at how much fun you’ll have creating a work of art, and believe me….you won’t be chilly any more!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of keeping warm in Kalamazoo….

Cheers,

           Laurel

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