Celebrate Local Food at This Year’s Street Party

Look forward to tasting a selection of local treats at this year’s Local First Street Party. The event that brings local restaurants, artists, bands, and community members together will feature Daddy Pete’s BBQ & Love’s Ice Cream.

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Prepare your taste buds for some Southern comfort food provided by Daddy Pete’s BBQ. Daddy Pete’s BBQ is a food truck owned and operated by Cory and Tarra Davis. This year’s Street Party will feature their delicious, Southern, slow-smoked meats basted with a sweet BBQ sauce! Their menu consists of locally sourced ingredients, which are prepared fresh daily, in its on-board commercial kitchen and rotisserie smoker. When Cory Davis won a local barbecue competition, he found that his recipes for rub and sweet BBQ sauce would be a combination people of Grand Rapids would come to love.

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Be sure to save some room for dessert with GoNuts and Love’s Ice Cream. Love’s Ice Cream started when owner, Chris McKellar, landed on an opportunity to make handcrafted, locally sourced ice cream for Grand Rapid’s Downtown Market. Love’s Ice Cream is committed to providing a high quality, organic product to their customers. Their ice cream and sorbets will be available at the Street Party this year. GoNuts will serve up mini-donuts hot off the press! Watch your donuts being made and then pick your sugar or powder flavor.

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Get excited for a variety of food – from tacos and BBQ to pizza and macaroni. Try it all at this year’s Local First Street Party!

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Click here to see the full list of Street Party vendors.

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G-Sync: What’s in the air?

If you have lived in Grand Rapids and ventured about as much as I have, then you know there are many wonderful vantage points from which to experience the city during summer. I remember the first time I dined at Cygnus in the Amway Grand Hotel at night and saw the lights shooting out in all directions. Once, while on a ride up to Lookout Park in the Belknap Hill neighborhood, I was able to experience a stunning sunset as I listened to Rachmaninoff: Symphony No 2on my Sony cassette Walkman.

nBut other favorite views are not driven so much by their height but by the perspectives they enable on our journey. I think of the bending of a roadway, like many of the highways that usher tourists, commuters, and new residents to the city. I think of  biking south on Grandville Avenue where, just before the curve to the west (and to a wonderful baker just steps beyond), there's a wonderful view of old storefronts.

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I even like that some unique views of our city have been carefully created, from our art centers in the city from UICA to the Public Museum to even my own studio in the historic Tanglefoot Building. And if you live long enough, you are able to watch these views of our city shift in many ways – some for the better and others with a head-scratching curiosity, like the chimpanzees I recently observed at the John Ball Zoo. 

nI experienced another view this spring. While observing the 360-degree projection art piece In The Air by T. J.  Wilcox (on loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art until August 30, 2015) at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, I became nostalgic for the wanderlust that only a city in summer can provide.

nIn The Air rises up like a cloud as you approach it. This time-lapse view, recorded from atop the artist's studio space in New York City, offers a rare view of the city over the course of a 24-hour day. Within the unique video presentation are a few of the artist's favorite views of New York, from the vision of the trans-Atlantic Zeppelin docking high atop the Empire State Building to Andy Warhol's silver balloon sculptures.

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To enter In The Air, a giant 35 feet in diameter and 7-foot-high world suspended in the middle of the gallery, nearly everyone will have to slightly bend over to reach the center. (It is also interesting to note that children can freely move back and forth barrier-free.)

nEveryone I observed on my afternoon at the museum had a silent but definite nonverbal different perspective to share about the work. Some lingered for the entire cycle standing in silence as the views gently shifted like the hypnotic spell cast by a summer breeze in a tree, others raced in, snapped a photo with their phones, and then raced off to the next selfie photo op. Like New York, our city is what it is.The attraction of Grand Rapids is that we are still a place where people feel they can create an impact or produce a new design upon a grid that was built long before any of us were even here on this planet. What stood out to me is that In The Air offers us a moment to think about our own city and our role in it. So why am I, a person who is very vocal about the trap of nostalgia, taking us down such a nostalgic path?

nThe answer is simple and complicated at the same time. Apparently Woody Harrelson once said his philosophy of living was based upon the knowledge that once we begin to look at our lives in terms of how many summers we have left on this planet, we can begin to truly appreciate living.

nComing from a man whom many equate with Los Angeles – a place of endless summer – it is easy to write this off as just glib press chatter. But he is correct: only once we understand that time is fleeting are we able to take our vantage points in time seriously.

JK’s Bakehouse and Deli Making Series Debut

Jodi Rademaker and Kathleen Timmer of JK’s Bakehouse and Deli will make their debut appearance at the Holland Farmers Market Chef Series, sponsored by Local First, this Saturday, June 6 at 10 a.m. As part of the free weekly cooking demonstration, Rademaker and Timmer will instruct the audience how to prepare a vegetarian entrée that could also be used as a starting point for a meat entrée in order to please an array of palates. They will be using fresh ingredients from the market in the preparation of their dish, including beans, goat cheese and a variety of vegetables.

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Rademaker finds it ironic that she started her career in food and beverage when she was 15 in a small-town deli in Rochester, New York. Since then, she attended Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, and has managed fine dining restaurants all over the country. Rademaker returned to Holland in 2002, and purchased Till Midnight restaurant, which she consequently closed seven years later to concentrate on raising her daughter. She remained close friends with Till Midnight’s pastry chef and bread baker Kathy Timmer, however, and in October of 2013 they both found themselves in a position to pursue a new endeavor. Together, they opened JK’s Bakehouse and Deli, where they offer a variety of baked goods, ready to eat lunches and dinners, packaged food items and catering services, just steps away from the Holland Farmers Market and across the street from Kollen Park.

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The Chef Series is held at 10 a.m. each Saturday at the Holland Farmers Market  through Sept. 12 and is free to attend.

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The Holland Farmers Market, located in Downtown Holland, features more than 90 local vendors selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to plants, baked goods, floral arrangements, dairy products, and more. The market also features a food court with dining options for breakfast and lunch, as well as street performers who entertain the crowds. The Holland Farmers Market is open 8 a.m.-3 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday through mid-December, rain or shine. No pets of any kind are allowed at the market. Bridge cards are accepted and an ATM is located onsite.

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Read original article here.

Twisted Rooster— A New Way to Think About American Fare

Summer days in the Midwest conjure up feelings of nostalgia for all things American like watermelon on the patio and grilled chicken on the back porch while you bask in the heat. If you crave classic American dishes to make your summer complete, look no further than this years Street Party. We are featuring a variety of  local vendors to wet your appetite and make your summer one to remember.

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Twisted Rooster, a vendor with a mission to “commit to the mitt,” and bring you a local twist on traditional American Fare is the perfect example of your favorite American dishes produced locally. Hatched in 2010 to replace an O’Charleys franchise, Grand Rapids wanted to try a more local model of running a business, and their renewed fidelity to the community paid off. “Twisted Rooster has become a staple in the community, providing customers with locally sourced signature dishes, created by their Executive Chef and Culinary Team,” said Brittany Wakefield of Meritage Hospitality Group & Twisted Rooster.

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But what does “commit to the mitt” look like for Twisted Rooster? “We pride ourselves on being active members of our communities,” Wakefield continued.“In addition to supporting local vendors and suppliers, we also stimulate the economy through participation in local Chambers and extensive involvement with community organizations such as Local First. In the past year, our restaurants have donated our time and resources to over 50 local events that directly support the community with organizations such as Kids Food Basket and Van Andel Institute among others.” Twisted Rooster strives to stay ahead of menu trends to create some of their best recipes which are inspired by awesome local products.

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Additionally, their scratch-menu boasts over 60 local Michigan suppliers to help create their signature seasonal menus. This year’s Street Party enables you to enjoy the outcome of Twisted Roosters mission while enjoying delicious Soda Pop Pork Lollipops and famous Twisted Mac & Cheese. Mark your calendar, head over to the Twisted Rooster tent, and get your fill of American fare at this year’s Street Party.

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Pizza brings a community closer

We're hosting the 12th annual Street Party on Saturday – and this event filled with live music and family activities just wouldn’t be complete without Grand Rapids Pizza & Delivery (GRPD).

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GRPD has been involved in Street Party since its first year. Owner, Michael Raymond says, “[Street Party] is a great opportunity for exposure within the community to gain recognition, it is positive for business and our community.”

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Grand Rapids Pizza & Delivery is located on 340 State Street Southeast and is the first established pizzeria of Heritage Hills. When choosing their location to set up shop in 2004, owners Michael and Paula Raymond saw a community in need of a pizzeria, or a common meeting area for local folks, business professionals and college students.

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GRPD participates in community events year round supporting local businesses and organizations. Following the Local First Street Party, GRPD hopes to participate in various summer events in support of local organizations as well as serve as an art exhibit location for ArtPrize in the fall.

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In recent months, GRPD has expanded the catering side of their business, which operates out of a food truck. They proudly serve award-winning, traditional, gourmet or stuffed pizzas and over 23 subs, a menu that has grown due to local customer input. Looking forward, Raymond says, “We hope to develop our catering business more and maintain our relationships with the community.”

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Expect to see their food truck at this year’s Local First Street Party! According to Raymond, “if people want to learn more about what buying local is all about, come down to the event to get an idea of its importance and how it helps and benefits not only our business and the Grand Rapids community, but also the state of Michigan as a whole.”

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June Events & Volunteer Opportunities

Are you interested in learning more about gardening, cooking, or food justice? Do you want to get your hands dirty and volunteer with some incredible local organizations? Then you are in the right place! I have searched high and low to highlight a few great ways to get involved in our local food movement. Below are events and volunteer opportunities being put on by organizations that impact the food movement in West Michigan. Hopefully you can find one or two that appeal to you!

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Baxter Community Center

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Strawberry Jamboree

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Thursday, June 25 / 4:00p-7:00p

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Located at Joe Taylor Park – Baxter St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

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Join Baxter Community Center as they celebrate the new season alongside several community partners! This event will have music, kids activities, food samples, and more!

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Volunteer

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Interested in helping Baxter with their greenhouse, community gardens, and neighborhood raised garden bed program? Stop by any Tuesday between 9:00a-12:00p to seed, weed, plant, and work alongside some incredible community members who are focused on improving food access through sharing gardening knowledge and resources.

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For more information click here.

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The Downtown Market

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Cooking Your CSA: Summer Harvest

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Thursday, June 25 / 6:00p-8:30p • $45

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June’s harvest means plenty of kale, turnips, strawberries and garlic scapes. If you’re not sure how your CSA basket makes a meal then join us as we puzzle piece together tonight’s dinner from this week’s harvest.

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Pressure Canning

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Wednesday, June 17 / 6:00p-8:30p • $45

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If you have a pressure canner but want to build a little more confidence before you use it, this hands on class is for you! Learn about basic canning safety and foods that must be pressure-canned, including: beans, meat, soups, and low-acid fruits and vegetables.

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Container Gardening

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Thursday, June 11 / 6:00p-7:30p • $20

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Container gardens are great if you don’t have much space or if you want to test your green thumb before investing in a full-scale garden. Learn what to plant and how to create beautiful container gardens! Join  greenhouse experts and learn what works for you!

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Composting and Mulching

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Thursday, June 18 / 6:00p-7:30p • $20

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Learn why composting and mulching is so important for your landscaping and your garden. With this composting 101, you'll explore alternative mulching materials that won’t break the bank.

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For more information click here.

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Heartside Gleaning Initiative

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Members of the Heartside Gleaning Initiative (HGI) came together to empower the Heartside and surrounding communities to develop food systems that can redirect, or glean, unused healthy food to residents in need. They educate community members on the importance of healthy eating and give them the tools to prepare their own nutritious meals.

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HGI is currently looking for volunteers to fill spots for their Saturday summer gleaning from June 6th to October 10th.

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For more information click here.

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Holland Farmers' Market

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June 6, June 13, June 20, & June 27 / 10:00a

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Every Saturday, the Holland Farmers Market holds cooking demonstrations where area chefs demonstrate how to use fresh, seasonal, and locally grown ingredients to prepare a simple and healthy meal straight from the Market.

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For more information click here.

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Our Kitchen Table

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OKT seeks to promote social justice and serve as a vehicle that empowers our neighbors so that they can improve their health and environment, and the health and environment of their children, through information, community organizing and advocacy.

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Cook, Eat & Talk

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June 8 / 6:00p – 8:00p

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Join for a cooking demonstration & light meal.

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Brown-Hutcherson Ministries – 618 Jefferson SE, 49503

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Women of Color Convening

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June 25 / 6:00p-8:00p

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Danielle Atkinson, founding director of Mothering Justice, hosts a dialogue on Paid Sick Days.

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Brown-Hutcherson Ministries – 618 Jefferson SE, 49503

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For more information click here.

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Southeast Area Farmers’ Market

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Market Begins:

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June 19 on Fridays, 4:00p-6:00p at Garfield Park, 334 Burton St. SE 49507 & Saturdays, 12:00p-2:00p at GR Ford Academic Ctr., 851 Madison SE, 49507

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Special Dates:

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Cooking Demos – June 26 & 27

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Summer Celebration DJ & fun activities – June 27

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For more information click here.

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Urban Roots

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Volunteer at Urban Roots: a permaculture and urban farming company in Grand Rapids. 

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You can volunteer every Wednesday night beginning June 10 from 5:00p-7:00p.

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Meet at Urban Roots – 1059 Wealthy Street SE for instruction and brief orientation.

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Bring a water bottle! Work may include weeding, harvesting, building beds, construction and development of lots, etc.

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For more information click here.

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Wellhouse

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Volunteer with Wellhouse: a local nonprofit that provides safe, affordable housing to the homeless.

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You can volunteer on their urban farm and gardens every Wednesday from 10:00a-3:00p.

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Meet at Wellhouse – 600 Cass SE Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

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Over the next month Well House will be cultivating, planting and maintaining their properties to promote a healthy growing season.  

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For more information click here.

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Have volunteer opportunities or food events for July that you would like me to highlight here? Feel free to send them my way at dana@localfirst.com!

Local First Street Party, Festival of the Arts, Temples, Eli Young Band and More

THE BIG LIST: June 2-7

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It’s here: Summer concert season. This is the week that the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park kicks off its annual series and Festival of the Arts commences in downtown Grand Rapids, along with the Local First Street Party. And there’s even more on The Big List…

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TEMPLES
nFEVER THE GHOST, HI-KER
nWhen: 7 p.m. Tuesday
nTickets: $18
nWhere: The Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids

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This British rock band, Temples, creates wondrous Beatle-esque psychedelic pop-rock that’s insanely catchy, which is probably why its 2014 album, “Sun Structures,” soared to No. 7 on the U.K. charts. The Kettering band – James Bagshaw, Thomas Walmsley, Samuel Toms and Adam Smith – is nearing the end of a North American tour that takes them later this week to Detroit (Saint Andrew’s Hall), Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toronto (Field Trip Music and Art Festival). I’d say catch this New Millennium version of the Fab Four before they really explode. Get tickets and details online at pyramidschemebar.com. Grand Rapids’ own hi-ker opens the show with L.A.’s Fever the Ghost also on the bill.

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GRAND FUNK RAILROAD
nMATTHEW CURRY
nWhen: 7 p.m. Wednesday
nTickets: $52 ($50 Meijer Gardens members)
nWhere: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids Township

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Michigan’s own Grand Funk Railroad (without singer-guitarist Mark Farner) launches the 2015 Meijer Gardens season with their familiar hit train from the 1970s: “Closer to Home,” “Feelin’ Alright,” “We’re An American Band,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and, of course, “The Loco-Motion.” Original members Don Brewer (drums) and Mel Schacher (bass) are part of the Grand Funk package, along with Max Carl, Tim Cashion and Bruce Kulick. Soul-blues singer-guitarist Matthew Curryopens the show. Gates open at 6 p.m.

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LOCAL SPINS WEDNESDAYS:
nJESSE RAY & THE CAROLINA CATFISH
nWhen: 8 p.m. Wednesday
nAdmission: Free
nWhere: SpeakEZ Lounge, Grand Rapids

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This riveting local music series has been on quite the roll lately, with hot bands such as The Accidentals, The Crane Wives and Nathan Kalish & The Lastcallers playing the mid-week shows last month.That impressive run continues this week with up-and-coming rockabilly duo Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish, who won a Jammie Award for their debut album earlier this year and who continue to rattle the rafters with their hyper-energetic live shows.

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They’re certain to do the same in their debut at the cozy SpeakEZ Lounge, with Jesse Ray liable to do his share of table-hopping, alligator-ing and unleashing his typical, fun-loving rock ‘n’ roll mayhem.

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Photo by Anthony Norkus. To read the full article, click here.

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Local First Street Party to Celebrate Local Businesses for 12th Year on Saturday

Local First will hold their 12th annual Street Party, presented by Founders Brewing Company, on Saturday, June 6 outside Bistro Bella Vita from 3 p.m. to midnight. In addition to a long and varied music set, there will also be Founders beer, local food trucks and booths and interactive family activities. The Local First Street Party is free and open to all ages; there will be music, food and entertainment for everyone to enjoy. Over 12,000 people attended last year’s event.

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New this year for families, Local First will have giant Jenga and Connect 4 to play with. Returning for a third year, families can decorate the streets with sidewalk chalk and create recycled art with local artist Reb Roberts, hula hoop with Audacious Hoops and watch 61Syx Teknique break it down between music sets.

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For beverages, Local First will be serving Founders Brewing Co. Pale Ale, Red's Rye and All Day IPA along with St. Julian’s red wine, white wine and Gunga Din hard cider. Faygo pop will be available for purchase and free water will be provided as well.

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The Street Party also has a focus on sustainability. Last year, the Street Party was nearly a zero waste event with an 85.7{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} diversion rate (zero waste events are classified as 90{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} – and events the size of the Street Party are typically at 50-60{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de}). While in 2015 Local First is striving to increase this rate, sustainability isn’t just about how much is recycled and composted- it’s about how much can be prevented from being wasted in the first place. That’s why Local First is asking that people bring empty, refillable water bottles to the event. In addition, Local First is encouraging attendees to use alternate transportation: carpool with friends and family, ride the Rapid, bike or walk to the event.

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New this year, Local First has teamed up with Uber to provide an Uber pickup station at the event. First time Uber users will receive a free ride.

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The event is free to attend. Food and beverage tickets will be on sale at the event – cash and credit will be accepted. More information about the Local First Street Party can be found on the Local First website.

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For original story click here.

Founders Brewing Co. – deeply rooted in West Michigan

Founders Brewing Co. has been a Local First member since 2007 and been the presenting sponsor of the Local First Street Party for 8 years. The Detroit Free Press called the brewery “a downtown Grand Rapids institution that grew from two hopeful co-founders into a major beer influence” and the brewery was recently recognized as the 17th largest craft brewery in the nation. Regardless of its growth and distribution footprint across 32 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and a handful of international markets, Founders continues to deeply value its West Michigan community.

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“It's important to us ultimately to stay downtown, to stay in Grand Rapids,” says Co-Founder and CEO Mike Stevens. “Grand Rapids is where we started our business. We've been growing in Grand Rapids. My partner and me were born and raised in Grand Rapids.”

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Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers both had steady jobs in the late 90s when they decided to chase their dreams and open a brewery–which meant writing a business plan, quitting their jobs, and taking out giant loans. They figured if you’re going to live life, you ought to live it hard, without regrets.

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After some initial challenges, due to making well balanced but unremarkable beers, they were on the verge of bankruptcy. It was at this point that the original Founders team decided to brew the kind of beer that got them excited about brewing in the first place: complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics, bigger body, and tons of flavor. And they haven’t looked back.

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Founders is currently undergoing a facility expansion that will take them to 900,000 bbl of annual capacity—capacity that will be built up over time as new equipment gets installed. This expansion will include a new brewhouse, increased cellar space, splitting out the canning and bottling lines so both can run at the same time, new office space and more.

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The brewery currently employees almost 300 people, referred to as members of the Founders Family. Founders 1700 Mug Club Members, who keep their mugs behind the taproom bar, are considered the extended Founders Family.

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Fun fact: find out more about the Founders phrase “Brewed for us” here.

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A huge thank you to Founders for their support of the Street Party and for partnering with us to celebrate all things local every summer! Find out more about this year's Street Party (and see what Founders beers will be on tap) on our event page.

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Street Party Volunteers – we couldn’t do it without you!

As the Local First Street Party enters its 12th year, we’d like to take a step back and appreciate the community members who’ve made (and continue to make) the event possible. The Street Party, our largest fundraiser of the year, would not be possible without the help, support, and dedication of our nearly 100 volunteers. There are a few people that we would like to thank personally:

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James Berg, Brad Teachout, Doug Berg, & Julie Wise support Local First in a myriad of ways, including running the beverage tents, the sponsor deck, and hosting the event space. The Essence Restaurants team is an essential partner – the Local First Street Party literally wouldn’t exist without them!

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Without the work of Nate Gillette, we wouldn’t have any volunteers! Thank you, Nate, for recruiting and organizing 100+ people!  (And thanks to his former counterpart, Roxanne O’Neil, for coordinating volunteers before him.)

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Rob McCarty, Craig Clark, and Emily Loeks are longtime sponsors and event strategists – they can be counted upon to come up with a new ways to engage greater portions of the Grand Rapids community.

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Nate Cohn and Josh Dunigan are our entertainment gurus. These two help select bands and performance artists, and they coordinate the sound stage.

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Guy Bazzani and Doris Drain have managed the ticket tent for nearly eight years. This high stress and much needed job is crucial!

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Todd Tofferi seamlessly coordinates all of the logistics within the City, helps us attain our stage, event permits, etc. 

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Local First is about celebrating community – and it takes a community of people to make that possible. Without the help of these terrific localists, the Street Party wouldn’t be nearly as amazing as it has grown to be! A huge THANK YOU to everyone involved!  We look forward to celebrating with you on Saturday!