Microbrews, Music and Moomer’s: I Could Get Used to This

I have no idea what she sees on this guy’s shirt. But there is beer involved, too….

By MIKE NORTON

Whew! It was quite an athletic weekend, between the five-mile Dune Dash and the TC Waterman Challenge on Saturday and the Fourth Annual Traverse City Triathlon on Sunday.

Traverse City has become a very health-conscious community in recent years, with dozens of races and contests of strength, endurance and skill. (Not that I competed in any of these events, you understand. But boy, my fingers are tired from typing about them.)

This coming week, however, brings a competition much more in line with my own personal talents and aptitudes: it’s the Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival, which will be held Friday and Saturday on the Front Lawn of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

It’s probably no news to you that in addition for its growing fame as a place to enjoy great food and wine, Traverse City has been carving out a national reputation for its imaginative beers and ales. This year Draft magazine named us one of Americas’ three newest Emerging Beer Towns (along with St. Louis and Oklahoma City) and the Travel Channel called us one of North America’s Seven Top Beer Destinations. Craft brewers are suddenly multiplying across the Traverse City landscape. Last time I checked, we had nine microbreweries, brewpubs and craft brew taprooms – three of them added in the past year – with three more scheduled to open this fall.

The Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas, already renowned for their acres of fruit trees and vineyards, are now sporting a third cash crop: hops. Grown on enormous 15- to 20-foot trellis systems, the fast-growing vines provide one of the key flavorings in beers and ales and are being snapped up by eager brewers.

So it only made sense four years ago, when the indefatigable Sam Porter announced that he was putting together the area’s first Microbrew & Music Festival, bringing together brewers and brew-lovers from around the state to sip, taste and mingle on the immense tree-shaded lawn of Traverse City’s former mental asylum. I remember how amazing that first festival was – my son Jacob happened to be home on leave from the Navy, and it was a wonderful way to spend some bonding time together.

Maybe we should rename it the “Traverse City Microbrew & Shirt-Inspection Festival.”

The fun starts Friday evening at 5 p.m. with “Pint Night” and a concert featuring country star Dierks Bentley – we loved him at the Cherry Festival Bayside Stage several years ago, and he TOLD us he’d be coming back somedayas well as Rachel Holder and The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. (Bentley has been banging out the hits for almost a decade now, ever since his “What Was I Thinkin,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts, with over 5 million album sales, 10 Grammy nominations and nine number-one singles.)

Saturday is more for the serious brewophile, with what they call an “expanded brewery experience” from 4-10 p.m. with over 50 breweries and more than 200 flavors of beer, cider, mead and wine, live local and national music acts,  $1 tasting tokens (5 tokens are included with admission), a variety of local food vendors and brew-friendly pub grub, the festival’s popular Hop ‘N Brew tasting shack, a silent disco tent and special partner activities and events.

It’s a huge amount of fun in a wonderful setting — but hey, these are adult beverages, so if you’re under 21 don’t even think about trying to get in.

But if you want to combine athleticism with self-indulgence, Tuesday features an event that might be more to your taste. It’s the Ice Cream Mile, a “running ice cream social” at the Traverse City Central High School track sponsored by Moomers Homemade Ice Cream. It’s not your ordinary race, since the idea is to eat a pint of ice cream while running four laps on the high school track. This is another event where I’d rather be a spectator than a participant.

“It’s almost more fun to watch, seeing runners of all ages and abilities try to overcome both the agony of an ice cream headache, and the intensity of running or walking a mile at the same time”, says Central track/cross-country coach Lisa Taylor, who’s in charge of the event.

The race starts at 6 p.m., and there are individual races for different ages – from “half-pint” youngsters all the way up to adult men’s and women’s events. (And if you just want to sit in the stands and cheer, yeah, there’s still Moomer’s available for purchase.) To register, go to https://events.bytepro.net/The2012AnnualIceCreamMile

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About mikelovestc

These days, I’m the media relations guy for the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, but before that I spent 25 years as a reporter and columnist at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, a job that frequently took me out into the most remote backroads, forests, beaches and islands of the beautiful Grand Traverse Region. My strategy was pretty simple — just drive, paddle, ski or walk until you’re certain you’re lost, and then find somebody to talk to. It was a great job! I never intended to live in Traverse City. I grew up in Grand Rapids, spent four years in the Coast Guard in places like Miami Beach, Monterey and San Francisco, and when I finally graduated from college I took a summer job at the Miami Herald. To my surprise, I discovered I didn’t like the tropics nearly as much as I thought I would — and when the Record-Eagle offered me a job I took it, figuring I’d put in a year or two and head off to someplace like Seattle or Portland. What I discovered very quickly is that this place gets to you in a variety of unexpected ways. The beaches here are as lovely as anyplace else I’ve ever been, the weather is mild all year round — warm enough for swimming in September and cold enough for skiing in December — and just about the time you’re getting tired of one season you get another one every bit as pleasant. The people are laid-back and friendly, the music and arts scene is awesome, and the place still hasn’t gotten so sophisticated that a guy like me feels out of place.
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