My Town: Local First Street Party is ready to rock on June 7

Local First will hold its 11th annual Street Party on Saturday, June 7 outside Bistro Bella Vita from 3 p.m. to midnight.

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This year's event is presented by Founders Brewing Company with stage sponsor Celebration Cinema. Last year, more than 12,000 attendees attended the 10th anniversary Local First Street Party and enjoyed Founders beer, local food  and food trucks, family art  and sidewalk chalk art, interactive music, and a great music set. The Local First Street Party is free and open to all ages; there will be music and entertainment for everyone to enjoy at this event.

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“The Street Party is one of the biggest highlights of our year. Local First puts on this event to showcase local businesses and talented individuals, celebrate the diversity and vibrancy of our community, and kick off the summer right!” said Elissa Hillary, executive director of Local First.

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This year's food vendors include food trucks, some old favorites, and new businesses. A Moveable Feast and What the Truck are local food trucks. On the dessert side, GoNuts will be serving mini doughnuts and Love's Ice Cream will have delicious organic ice cream. For the entrees, Montello Meat Market will be cooking up bratwursts, Grand Rapids Pizza & Delivery will have several pizza options (including the “Local First” – a margarita-inspired specialty pizza), Twisted Rooster will be serving up its famous mac 'n' cheese, Bandit Queen with ramen (try it here first – they haven't opened their restaurant yet!), and LINC Up Soul Food Café will be making chicken and waffle sliders (you will want to try this).

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Founders Brewing Company will be returning with the Local Hive Honey Wheat, created for last year's event and hugely popular, selling out in the early evening last year. They will also have a selection of other beers. St Julian is providing wine again, and cider for the first time at this event. Faygo soda and free water will also be available.

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During the event, there are plenty of bands and street performers to entertain. Families will enjoy making recycled art with local artist Reb Roberts, playing with sidewalk chalk with Marco Riolo, and writing their local treasure on the giant Local Treasure shopping bag. New this year, The Rapidian will be at the event from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., sharing stories  in a story fort;  people will also have the opportunity to tell stories about our community.

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This event is free to attend. Food and drink tickets will be available for purchase at the event, with cash or card.

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Entertainment lineup:

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3:30 p.m. -4:30 p.m.  Nathan Kalish and the Wildfire (rock country)

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5:00 p.m. -6:00 p.m.   Root Doctor (soul/blues/jazz)

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6:30 p.m. -7:30 p.m.  Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers (indie folk/pop)

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8:00 p.m. -9:00 p.m.  Rick Chyme (hip-hop/rap)

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9:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.  Mustard Plug (punk-influenced ska)

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11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.  Alexis (electro-pop)

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Between sets:

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The Grand Rapids Soul Club (spinning R&B and funk tunes between sets)

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Audria (professional hula hoop dancer)

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61Syx Teknique (breakdancing group)

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WaZoBia (African & Afro-Cuban drumming with attendees)

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For original article, click here.

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Photo courtesy of Jonathan Stoner Photography.

Great Food and Free Entertainment at Local First Street Party

One of the largest downtown events of the year is gearing up for a big celebration. The Local First annual Street party is inviting the entire community out on Saturday June 7 outside Bistro Bella Vita from 3:00 p.m.-midnight. Last year, more than 12,000 attendees came out to the party and enjoyed Founders beer, local food & food trucks, family art & sidewalk chalk art, interactive music, and a great music set. Street Party is free and open to all ages. Plus, there will be local music and entertainment for everyone to enjoy.
n“The Street Party is one of the biggest highlights of our year. Local First puts on this event to showcase local businesses and talented individuals, celebrate the diversity and vibrancy of our community, and kick off the summer right!” said Elissa Hillary, Executive Director of Local First.

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This year’s food vendors include food trucks, some old favorites, and new businesses. A Moveable Feast and What the Truck are local food trucks. On the dessert side – GoNuts will be serving mini donuts and Love’s Ice Cream will have delicious organic ice cream. For the entrees, Montello Meat Market will be cooking up brats, Grand Rapids Pizza & Delivery will have several pizza options (including the “Local First” – a margarita-inspired specialty pizza), Twisted Rooster saving up their famous mac’n’cheese, Bandit Queen with ramen (try it here first – they haven’t opened their restaurant yet!), and LINC Up Soul Food Café will be making chicken and waffle sliders.
nFounders Brewing Company will be returning with the Local Hive Honey Wheat, created for last year’s event which were hugely popular. They will also have a selection of other beers. St Julian is providing wine again, and for the first time at this event, cider. Faygo soda and free water will also be available.

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Families can enjoy making recycled art with local artist Reb Roberts, playing with sidewalk chalk with Marco Riolo, and writing their local treasure on the giant Local Treasure shopping bag. New this year, The Rapidian will be at the event from 3-6 pm doing story sharing in a story fort, and people will have the opportunity to tell stories about our community.

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This event is free to attend. Food & drink tickets will be available for purchase at the event, with cash or card.

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Entertainment lineup:

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3:30-4:30 pm Nathan Kalish and the Wildfire (rock country)
n5:00-6:00 pm Root Doctor (soul/blues/jazz)
n6:30-7:30 pm Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers (indie folk/pop)
n8:00-9:00 pm Rick Chyme (hip-hop/rap)
n9:30-10:30 pm Mustard Plug (punk-influenced ska)
n11:00 pm-12:00 am Alexis (electro-pop)

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Between sets:

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The Grand Rapids Soul Club (spinning R&B and funk tunes between sets)
nAudria (professional hula hoop dancer)
n61Syx Teknique (breakdancing group)
nWaZoBia (African & Afro-Cuban drumming with attendees)

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For original article, click here.

On the Move: Electric Cadillac Sandwich Shop

Electric Cadillac is on the move.

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A few months ago, it was fixed in place on Beechtree Street in Grand Haven.

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Now, it has spread to Holland, and starting this summer, their food truck will be at the Grand Haven State Park beach every day.

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As it turns out, sandwiches this good can’t stay in one place.

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“Most on my crew are culinary school grads, so we know what we're doing when it comes to making good food,” said co-owner Nicholas Mika. “People know quality when they see it, you know?”

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According to Mika, their placement along the Lakeshore is no coincidence. When he and Matt Varley first opened up shop in September, they did so in hopes of bringing a new kind of sandwich shop to the area.

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“I started Electric Cadillac to provide a better sandwich for the Lakeshore,” he said.

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So what makes a better sandwich? At Electric Cadillac, sandwiches are made fromBoar’s Head meats and cheeses, local and organic vegetables, and fresh bread from Spring Lake’s The Village Baker. What’s more, the staff at Electric Cadillac makes their own hummus, sauces, and guacamole in-house.

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“We're a small company which allows us to make everything from scratch at the shops,” said Mika.

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In both locations in Grand Haven and Holland, the Lakeshore atmosphere is an important part of their business.

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“There's something about being seaside that seems to make everyone happier,” said Mika.

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And being “seaside” just took on a whole new meaning for the Electric Cadillac crew: starting this summer, they will be making their sandwiches and smoothies for patrons right on the beach. The State of Michigan is launching a pilot program for food vendors, with Grand Haven State Park as its first beach trying out the new system. Electric Cadillac is one of only two food truck vendors chosen to operate at the park.

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“It’s the first program in the state to allow established brands to run a food truck on the beach instead of offering concession stands,” said Mika. “That means healthier and more affordable options for beachgoers. I think it'll be really successful.”

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The food truck business is nothing new for Mika and Varley, whose past culinary entrepreneurship includes Righteous Cuisine, a popular Mexican food truck operated out of Muskegon. The Electric Cadillac truck won’t be hard to find—just look for the retrofitted school bus amid the sand dunes and beach umbrellas.

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“We thought that'd be something fun and different,” said Mika.

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“Fun” and “different” seem to be Electric Cadillac’s main descriptors. They are known for using a blow torch to melt the cheese on their sandwiches, and with menu items ranging from “Not Your Grandma’s Reuben” to “Get That Meatball Sub Dude,” the folks at Electric Cadillac clearly like to have a little fun with their food. But one thing they don’t mess around with is their high-quality products.

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“Unprocessed foods always taste better,” said Mika. “Making a great sandwich is simply making every ingredient that goes into that sandwich superb on its own. That requires a ton of behind-the-scenes effort that large chains aren't willing to implement.”

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For Mika, being a good local business means taking the opportunity to make a superior product.

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“I advocate supporting local shops that do it better than their corporate alternatives,” he said.

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Every aspect of Electric Cadillac is geared toward that goal: their ingredients, staff, and customer service combine to make an excellent dining experience you won’t find anywhere else.

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If finding a great sandwich on the Lakeshore is not reason enough to visit, there is an added benefit of stopping by during the month of June: the first annual Local Treasure Hunt. When you visit a participating business, all you have to do is send a text to Local First with that location’s code. Each time you visit one of these shops, you are entered into a drawing for prizes from the individual businesses and a grand prize as well.
nElectric Cadillac is one of ten lakeshore businesses joining in this treasure hunt. Other places include Bowerman Blueberries Farm Market, Second Floor Bakery, Toys Are Used, and Velo City Cycles, among others. This treasure hunt will help community members rediscover established businesses that have been around for years and to find some new favorites as well, such as Electric Cadillac.

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Check out localtreasure.org to see who else is participating and to download your treasure hunt guide. For more information about Electric Cadillac, visit their website atelectriccadillacdeli.com.

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Originally published in May-June 2014 Urban St. Shore West.

Calling All Party Animals

Street Party is our biggest celebration of local food, local beer, local music, and local art of the WHOLE year!

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Here's what you will experience at Street Party:

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1. A seriously cool band line up

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2. Chalk art with Marco Riolo

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3. The return of Founder's Brewing Local Hive Honey Wheat

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4. Recycled art with Reb Roberts

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5. Roaming street performers, like 61Syx Teknique

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6. Delicious local food

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Are you coming to the Street Party? Help us spread the word! 

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  • Invite your friends on Facebook
  • Tweet about it using #LFStreetParty
  • Send this blog post or the event page to everyone you know!
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It’s Farmer’s Market Season!

April showers bring May crops, so it’s time to head to the farmers market.

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You may have these questions: Where are they located? When are they open? What will I find there?

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Before you go scouring the internet for the answers, check out this information we’ve compiled about some of our favorites.

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Fulton Street Farmers Market

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Where: 1147 E. Fulton Street, Grand Rapids, 49503

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When: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 am—3 pm. The Artisans Market at Fulton Street is open on Sundays from 11 am—3 pm, the second Sunday in June through the last Sunday in September.

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What: The Fulton Street Farmers Market works with over 200 vendors throughout the year to bring you the freshest fruits and vegetables as well as breads, baked goods, flowers, and meats.

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Why: In addition to the Artisans Market (which features jewelry, stonework, sculptures, and more), Fulton Street has a “Farmin’ Flavor” each month, where a local chef uses ingredients from the market to make a new menu item.

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Downtown Market

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Where: 435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, 49503

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When: May Hours: Saturdays 9 am—2 pm; June through September: Tuesdays 9 am—2 pm, Thursdays 4 pm—7 pm, Saturdays 9 am—2 pm; October through November: Saturdays 9 am—2 pm

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What: The outdoor portion of the Downtown Market is your one-stop destination for fruits, vegetables, poultry, meats, plants, specialty products and more.

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Why: While the outdoor market features standard farmers market fare, stepping inside the market hall offers a whole world of coffee, ice cream, Thai food and more.  Open year-round seven days a week, there is always something new to try inside. Also at the Downtown Market you might find musicians, dancers, or jugglers for your entertainment.

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Holland Farmers Market

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Where: 150 W 8th Street, Holland, 49423

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When: Wednesdays and Saturdays 8 am—3 pm (starting May 14)

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What: The Holland Farmers Market has everything from fruits and vegetables to jewelry and home décor, including “hot crops” such as raspberries, cilantro, spinach, and peppers.

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Why: The events at the Holland Farmers Market are plentiful: their chef series brings in area chefs to do demonstrations using foods from the market; they have activities for kids each Wednesday morning in the summer; special events include the Salsa Showdown (with both salsa-making and jalapeno-eating competitions).

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West Michigan Co-op

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Where: Pick-up location: 1475 Michigan Street NE, Grand Rapids, 49503

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When: The shopping cycle begins on the first Saturday of each month. Shopping is open until the Friday of that week. Pick-up night is the second Wednesday after the shopping week (don’t worry, there is a calendar.) Pick-up is from 5:45 pm—8 pm on that Wednesday.

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What: The West Michigan Co-op is the area’s first online farmers market. It allows producers and consumers to connect throughout the year. Shopping with the co-op requires a membership, but perks include direct access to farm products with the convenience of shopping online.

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Why: The Co-op offers the most convenient option, especially for those who already most of their shopping online. It balances this practicality with a bit of personality, as producers and consumers interact at pick-up night. The Co-op also provides information about each producer to encourage shoppers to be more conscious consumers.

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Muskegon Farmers Market

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Where: 242 W Western Ave., Muskegon, 49440 (new location!)

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When: May—December Hours: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 6:00 a.m.—3:00 p.m. After Thanksgiving, Saturdays only 7:00 a.m.—3:00 p.m. Artisan vendors: Wednesdays 5:00 p.m.—8:00 p.m. June 11—August 20. Flea Market: Wednesdays May 7—October (at old location: 700 Yuba Street, Muskegon, 49442)

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What: The Muskegon Farmer’s Market is dedicated to showcasing the best in locally-grown foods, flowers, nursery stock, handicrafts and baked goods. The Market also hosts a giant Flea Market where everything imaginable is sold.

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Why: They participate in the nationally-recognized Power of Produce Club, which empowers kids to make healthy food choices.