Local First Street Party, Festival, B93 Birthday Bash, Greensky Bluegrass, The Accidentals

Competition or the more the merrier?

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West Michigan fans of live music had more to choose from on the first weekend in June than anytime in memory. And with near-perfect meteorological conditions, there was absolutely no excuse for anyone to skip the festivities, from Grand Rapids to the lakeshore to Kalamazoo.

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In downtown Grand Rapids, the three-day Festival of the Arts kept up the pace on six outdoor stages on Saturday, continuing its blue-collar approach and the eclectic offerings that are the trademark of the 45-year-old event.

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“What’s best about Festival is the variety of performances, from singing to dancing to hip-hop,” said Festival-goer Fonda Williams of Grand Rapids. “Even getting to see the people of Grand Rapids who aren’t necessarily a part of the actual events, who are just performing all over the city.”

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Just a few blocks away, the Local First Street Party fired up in front of Bistro Bella Vita with a half-dozen bands — Nathan Kalish & The Wildfire, Root Doctor, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, Rick Chyme (with special guests Molly Bouwsma-Schultz, Edye Evans Hyde, Griff and AOK, Mustard Plug and Alexis) — plus Founders Beer enticing party-goers.

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“The greatest part about this year’s Street Party is the combination of two things: Founders beer and Mustard Plug,” raved Andrew Stevenson, a tattoo artist from Hudsonville. Ska fave Mustard Plug didn’t disappoint, unleashing one of its wildest shows yet, with the six-piece crew getting the crowd skanking, stage diving and demanding encore after encore.

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Electro-pop’s Alexis put a capper on the evening, performing tracks from the duo’s upcoming release, “Temptation,” and bringing its distinctive sensual sound, synthy keys, and hot and heavy dance moves to the street party.

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One observation: There were more people packing Festival on Saturday than there were on Friday, and folks waited until later in the evening this year to jam the Local First Street Party than in 2013.

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South of town, it was a country mecca as 50,000 or so folks flocked to the U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin for the B93 Birthday Bash. The nation’s largest free two-day country music festival got the Nashville vibe rolling for the boot-sporting throng with the likes of Dierks Bentley, Colt Ford, Jerrod Niemann, Parmalee, Eric Paslay and Lucy Hale. Take a gander at how the place filled up in photos below by Eric Stoike, who also survived Sunday’s exhausting lineup: Justin Moore, Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell, Chase Rice, Will Hoge, Danielle Bradbery and The Cadillac Three. Oh, and next year’s B93 bash will be held on a different weekend: June 13-14, so mark those 2015 calendars now.

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And speaking of calendars and country radio’s B93: Blue Cap Entertainment today announced that country star Craig Morgan would headline the first day of the three-day concert series kicking off at Fifth Third Ballpark on Aug. 26, sponsored by B93. Tickets, starting at $9.37, go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday at the box office, by calling 616-784-4131 or online at fifththirdballpark.com. Blue Cap earlier had announced that the Goo Goo Dolls, Daughtry and Plain White T’s would be playing the ballpark on Aug. 27. Morgan’s special guests and the lineup for the third day of the concert series haven’t yet been announced.

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In Kalamazoo, fans of Greensky Bluegrass had plenty of opportunities this weekend to cheer on their hometown bluegrass heroes, who played three straight nights at Bell’s Brewery on an outdoor stage, with special guests such as Seth Bernard, who performed on Friday.

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Meanwhile, Grand Rapids singer Hannah Rose Graves teamed up with blues guitarist Jim Shaneberger and other special guests at Billy’s Lounge in Eastown on Friday night for an inspiring performance that continued into the wee hours of the morning, and Ann Arbor singer-songwriter Jetty Rae and Traverse City’s The Accidentals made a splash at Spring Lake’s Seven Steps Up, drawing lots of fans who’d never attended a concert in the vibrant listening room.

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As usual, Local Spins was there to capture much of the action, with photographers Tony Norkus, Eric Stoike, Anna Sink, Tori Thomas, Eric Fischer and writer David Specht on the scene. Check out the images above and below.

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And as a bonus, perhaps one of the most widely publicized performances by a band came from Grand Rapids’ The Outer Vibe, which played at Good Morning America meteorologist Ginger Zee’s weekend wedding at Petoskey’s Inn at Bay Harbor. The Rockford native’s brother, Sean Zee, is the lead singer for the rock/pop band, which was “very excited” to rock out at the reception for the wedding, which earned plenty of local and national media coverage. There’s a portrait of the band with the bride and groom below. For more photos by Chris Clark, visit MLive.com.

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For original news article, click here.

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Photo courtesy Anthony Norkus.

Local First realizará fiesta este sábado

Local First es una organización emprendida hace más de diez años para conectar a los negocios con la comunidad y de esa manera incrementar la compra dirigida a estos negocios. Local First considera que al apoyar a las empresas y negocios locales la economía del oeste de Michigan tiene más probabilidad de mejorar.
nEl sábado 7 de junio Local First realizara una fiesta de cuadra anual en la calle Grandville. 
nLa entrada al evento será completamente gratuita. Los participantes podrán disfrutar de música y actividades para toda la familia. 
nDurante la celebración se estará vendiendo cerveza, vino, y sodas acompañadas de comidas completamente locales.  Dentro de las actividades que se estarán realizando habrán bailes, presentación con tambores y música, y conciertos de bandas locales.
nEntre los actos, se presentara el grupo de bailarines de Hip Hop, 61Syx Teknique, un grupo de bailarines de alrededor de todo el mundo que tienen cierta relación con la ciudad. 
nKeegan “Seoul” Loye, dueño de 61Syx Teknique, comento que el grupo colaborara por segunda vez con la fiesta. 
n“Local First es una organización fantástica que ayuda a desarrollar el crecimiento de la comunidad al destacar los mejores negocios locales y actos de la ciudad” opino Loye. Según Loye, el año pasado la comunidad disfruto mucho del acto de los bailarines. 
n“Después de nuestro acto nosotros siempre invitamos a los presentes a compartir el piso y bailen con nosotros, hemos recibido muchas respuestas positivas” manifestó Loye. 
nLa fiesta iniciará cerca de las 3:00pm hasta la media noche del sábado, esta se llevará a cabo en la 44 de la calle Grandville SW. Por otra parte, entre los patrocinadores del evento estará el periódico El Vocero Hispano.

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Photo courtesy of Corriveau Photography.

Local First Street Party 2014

A “perfect storm of awesomeness.”

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That’s the forecast that Nate Cohn of Local First – a West Michigan nonprofit that promotes consumer support for locally-owned businesses – offered for Saturday’s annual Local First Street Party.

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With a stellar lineup of local musicians, including hip-hop’s Rick Chyme and ska punk’s Mustard Plug, food from local vendors such as What the Truck and Twisted Rooster, Founders beer on tap, no entry fee and stellar weather expected, Cohn’s prediction is likely on point.

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“The Street Party is one of the biggest highlights of our year,” said Elissa Hillary, executive director of Local First. “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.”

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Located in front of Bistro Bella Vita at Grandville Avenue and Weston Street near Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids, the free party kicks off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday with a performance by Nathan Kalish and the Wildfire, an American roots rock and roll band that plans to share a few tracks from Kalish’s upcoming release, “Alpine Way.”

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(Indeed, Saturday’s appearance is a de facto CD-release show for the new album, which will be available for sale at the street party when Kalish and the Wildfire – bassist Matt Ten Clay, guitarist Aaron Sandy and drummer Bradley Self – take the stage.)

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And while the street party lineup consists entirely of Michigan-based talent, it provides a spectrum of genres that is anything but all the same.

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“I think the theme is diversity, really,” said Cohn, a special events curator who books the street party bands. “We’re trying to bring in the best local artists of all different genres for one afternoon and evening. Grand Rapids is made up of a wide demographic, and we want to offer something for everyone.”

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A DIVERSE MUSICAL LINEUP ON THE SAME WEEKEND AS FESTIVAL 2014

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Ranging from electro-pop duo Alexis to powerful soul-blues quintet Root Doctor, with Grand Rapids Soul Club spinning R&B and funk tunes in between each set, it seems the festival will manage to reach its target audience, which is, well, everybody.

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Last year, Local First’s 10th annual Street Party drew about 12,000 people.

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This year, however, the event falls on the same weekend as another annual gathering in downtown Grand Rapids, Festival of the Arts, which could prove to boost Street Party attendance to new heights. Festival has drawn as many as 500,000 people in a weekend to its festive celebration of all things artsy in Grand Rapids.

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“We are really hoping that with Festival of the Arts, people will go back and forth between the two during the day and create a bigger impact between both,” said Samantha Vanderberg, communications coordinator for Local First.

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Risking potentially conflicting performances and the inevitable, frustrating battle for parking spaces, might Local First Street Party organizers have aimed for any weekend but Festival weekend?

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It’s actually quite the opposite.

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“It was intentional, and we’ve talked with the organizers at Festival of the Arts and worked things out,” she said. “Both events are going to shout each other out and, that way, people check out both.”

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For original news article, click here.

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Photo courtesy of M + K Photography.

Top 5 things to do in Grand Rapids include Festival of the Arts, Local First Street Party

The biggest names in country music and conservatism are in West Michigan as Dierks Bentley and Justin Moore take the B-93 Birthday Bash stage and Dennis Miller and Bill O’Reilly perform at DeVos Performance Hall this weekend. It’s a busy one. Here are five more options for your social calendar.

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Festival of the Arts 2014

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Three days of art, performance, activities, and food are scheduled as the 45th annual Festival of the Arts opens at noon on Friday, June 6, and runs through Sunday, June 8. Six music stages, dozens of food vendors and numerous art vendors are stretched across the city blocks along Ottawa Avenue from Michigan Street south to Monroe Center and west on Monroe Center to Rosa Parks Circle.

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Kids' favorites, like the Paint-In, Glue-In and Mad Hatter, are back along with Swing-n-Art that relies on gravity and motion to create artwork. A full list of activities and more is available at www.festivalgr.org. Admission is free.

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The Kendall College of Art and Design, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, and Grand Rapids Art Museum will all host special art and film exhibits. All three will offer free admission during the festival.

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Local First Street Party

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Local First, the nonprofit organization that fosters the development of an economy grounded in local ownership, is holding its annual one-day street party on Saturday, June 7. Ten diverse bands, musicians, and artists will play the all-ages event held in front of Bistro Bella Vita, 44 Grandville Ave. SW #100, from 3 p.m. to midnight.

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Local food trucks, Founders beer, and family art and activities will all be available. Over 12,000 people attended the 2013 celebration. Admission to the event is free. More info at www.localfirst.com/events/street-party.

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Mad Hatter Days in Holland

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Another street party is taking place in Holland as New Holland Brewing's Mad Hatter Days returns to celebrate local music, food and craft beer (and spirits) at and around the brewery, 66 E. 8th Street, 3:30-11:30 p.m. Saturday, June 7.

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Each year, New Holland Brewing brews, bottles and releases a family of seven IPA-inspired craft beers and spirits based on the beer that put the brewer on the map – Mad Hatter IPA. This year they will also celebrate their collaboration with local T-shirt company, Michigan Awesome with the re-branding of – Michigan Awesome Hatter, a pale ale featuring hops and barley grown in Cascade.

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The street party takes place on College Avenue between 8th and 9th streets. That area will be closed to traffic. Admittance is free and includes live music from bands like STEPDAD and Soil & the Sun. Guests can also enjoy all-day acts from Daredevil Circus and more. For a full schedule of events and times check outwww.newhollandbrew.com.

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The Market on First Fridays

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Avenue for the Arts is merging its First Fridays and The Market events into one as The Market on First Fridays debuts on Friday, June 6, from 5 to 9 p.m. An outdoor market and a gallery and shop-hop are combined with sidewalk vendors, performance artists and entertainment along South Division between Cherry and Fulton.

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The event, free and open to all ages, offers patrons the opportunity to check out the shops, galleries and restaurants in the growing South Division corridor. Local artists and businesses are showcased with art and handmade goods available for purchase. 
nMore information is at avenueforthearts.com'streetmarket. You can follow Avenue for the Arts on Twitter or Instagram (@avefortheartsGR) or check out theirFacebook page for more.

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“Don’t Dress for Dinner” at Circle Theatre

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“Don’t Dress for Dinner” – the sequel to the hilarious French farce “Boeing, Boeing,” debuts at 7:30 tonight at Circle Theatre, 1607 Robinson Road SE.

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The philandering Bernard takes center stage once again with plans to rendezvous with another mistress. As those plans go awry, his best friend, Robert, wife Jacqueline, and a couple of women named “Suzy” are caught up in the marital mess where finding an innocent isn’t as easy as it seems.

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Performances are June 5-21 on Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 616-456-6656 or online at www.circletheatre.org. The box office is open Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to curtain on days of weekend performances.

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For original article, click here.

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Photo courtesy Chris Clark, MLive.com.

Take Your Kids of a Local Treasure Hunt!

FIND YOUR VERY OWN WEST MICHIGAN TREASURE

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Did you know there are dozens of local treasures in West Michigan just waiting to be discovered?

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Perhaps you already know about some – After all, places like the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market, the Children’s Museum and Schuler Books have been around for a long time. But there are more to be discovered!

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To help you start your adventure, LocalFirst  has put together a local treasure hunt complete with prizes! The treasure hunt is designed for families – so get your gang together and head out!

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TREASURE HUNT YOUR WAY ACROSS THE REGION THIS SUMMER

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How It Works (full rules here)

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1. Take your kids and your mobile phone to any of the participating vendors (choose either the Grand Rapids or Lakeshore treasure hunts.) Once there, you will text in a special code from your mobile phone to be entered to win.

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2. Collect and text as many unique codes as you can – up to 11. The Grand Prize Winner in Grand Rapids will receive a one night stay at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel for their family, family tickets to the Whitecaps and passes to AJ’s Family Fun Center, plus  a $100 gift card to Twisted Rooster! The Grand Prize Winner for the Lakeshore Treasure Hunt will win a one night stay at CityFlatsHotel, tickets for the whole family to BAM!, and $100 gift card to Salt & Pepper.

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3. You have until June 30 at 11:59 p.m. to text in your entries.

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April says: “I am totally doing this with my girls. I’ve been looking for an excuse to stop in at Hopscotch Children’s Boutique. Now I’m going to shop for a birthday present for my niece and text my entry to LocalFirst while I’m there. If I get to 3-6 vendors by the month’s end, I’ll be entered in the main drawing, and if I can manage 7-10 of the business, I’ll be entered to win their grand prize: a stay at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, tickets to the Whitecaps & passes to AJ’s Family Fun Center, and a $100 gift card to Twisted Rooster.”

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GET A BONUS ENTRY AT THE LOCAL FIRST STREET PARTY THIS SATURDAY WHILE YOU ENJOY CHALK ART FUN!

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Don’t miss out on the LocalFirst Street Party this Saturday, June 7, starting at 3:00 pm.

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Oodles of local food vendors (What the Truck, Twisted Rooster, Love’s Ice Cream, to name a few!) will be on hand with drinks and great eats, while entertainment and family activities like

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Wazobia
nChalk art with Marco Riolo
nRecycled Art with Reb Roberts
nStory Matters story sharing with The Rapidian
n…and more keep you entertained.

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We live in a wonderful community. Take this opportunity to embrace where you live and make great memories with your kids while you TREASURE HUNT WEST MICHIGAN.

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For original article, click here.

The Bandit Queen to provide taste of ramen at 11th annual Local First Street Party

The 11th annual Local First Street Party, presented by Founders Brewing Company, will be kicking off summer this Saturday. The festival of local food, drink, entertainment and music will begin at 3 p.m. outside of Bistro Bella Vita.

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Small business owner, Torrence O’Haire, will be providing East Asian cuisine from his newest business, The Bandit Queen.

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“Our focus is on a traditional Japanese ramen,” says O’Haire. “We’re setting it up like a traditional Japanese ramen bar but we’re using local and seasonal ingredients.”

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Though The Bandit Queen will be serving food at the Street Party, the location is not yet open. O'Haire plans to open early this summer next to his other business, Propaganda Doughnuts.

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The Bandit Queen is expected to provide a unique atmosphere for visitors.

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“We’re setting up the design as sort of a turn-of-the-century, shipyard saloon,” says O’Haire. “[Imagine] this trade route that circumnavigates East Asia and follows the spice trade back to Western Europe: it brings back all of these traditions and all of these really interesting flavors.”

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This will be O’Haire’s second time participating in the Local First Street Party.

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“[The Street Party] is so much fun, such good energy [and] such a good crowd. It’s just such a cool day out. It’s a neat cross-section of ‘the best people in Grand Rapids,’” says O’Haire. “Local movers and shakers, families, students, artists… The uniting factor is that they’re just super interested that there’s cool stuff happening downtown.”

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Local First, established in 2003, is an organization that promotes local business and educates the public about what local business can do for a thriving community.

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“We are an economic development organization,” says Hanna Schulze, Program and Events Coordinator for Local First. “Our goal is to promote and educate the community about local businesses and what community grounded and local business can do to promote a vibrant community. We exist to bring together local businesses.”

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For original article, click here.

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Photo courtesy of Jonathan Stoner Photography.

GRPD returns to the Street Party with crowd favorite: the unofficial Local First pizza

The Street Party has a lot to offer in the way of food – but one staple business that returns every year is Grand Rapids Pizza & Delivery. They've been in business on State Street for over 10 years, and they've been a vendor at Street Party for about as many years. I interviewed Mike Raymond, owner of GRPD and long time Local First member, about his business and why he keeps coming back to Street Party.

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LF: You have a themed pizzeria – how do you come up with your pizza combinations and pizza names?

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GRPD: My sons come up with a lot of the pizzas, but we also like our staff to be creative and have a hand in it. They put together different bases & toppings and then run it by our customers as a litmus test.

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I’m a fan of the old murder mysteries and cop shows, so our pizzas are named after classic TV shows and movies. Right now we have names like the Columbo, the .357, the Serpico, and the Dick Tracy. I’m sure in the future we’ll see stuff coming like the Jackie Chan, or Lethal Weapon 2, or Die Hard.

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There’s also a lot of good will and humor between us and the Grand Rapids police department – a lot of our clientele are police officers. When we first became GRPD, an officer actually pulled our vehicle over citing the fact that he didn’t think it was appropriately named. We told him it was trademarked and jokingly asked him to remove it from his car. Since then, that police officer has become one of our better customers and is a big proponent of ours.

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LF: Why do you keep coming back to the Street Party?

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GRPD: We’ve been part of the Street Party since the second year it was around. We are particular about the types of festivals and community events that we participate in, but we really like this event because we support the local community and kids – kids are a big part of who we are. I try to do any type of event that promotes family or kids. Plus theentertainment down there is really outstanding.

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The Street Party really showcases what Grand Rapids has to offer. There’s a lot of great food vendors down there that are utilizing local ingredients and produce. It all kind of ties together with what we do.

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And you know, every year my staff fights to work the booth at Street Party. It probably doesn’t hurt that there’s beer there either.

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LF: So talk to me about this Unofficial Local First pizza.

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GRPD: If you know anything about me or GRPD, you know we’re not the typical pizza place. We always try to do things outside the box. But we also like to color inside the lines too.

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I took a throwback to ancient times when there was a pizza created for the royalty in Italy at the time. It was called the margherita pizza and it was an homage on behalf of the community. So I thought, wouldn’t it be neat to create a pizza that’s an homage to our local community and Local First. So we created this pie called the Local First. It it aspinach, tomato, aged cheese, & aged feta pizza.

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It was kind of a flukey thing, we didn’t think we were going to sell a lot of them. What happened was, the first year that we did it, our staff went absolutely out of their minds because it just took off like a rocket. It’s a really flavorful pizza and people really like it. The second year, people were asking for it, and by the third year it was just a given that we had to have it there. It’s something we started as a novelty for Local First, but this year we decided to put it on our new menu because people love it.
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nLF: What will you be bringing this year?

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GRPD: Small personal pizzas as usual. We might bring the Barney Fife – which is not your mama’s cheese pizza. It has an alfredo base, amazing cheeses, and it almost tastes like macaroni. We’ll definitely have pepperoni pizzas there, and, of course, the Local First – there will be something for everyone.

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You can try the Local First or other GRPD pizza’s at Street Party this Saturday, June 7, from 3 pm to midnight. This event is free to attend, and you can buy food and beverage tickets at the event.