Still Searching for Sugar Man? He’ll Be at the TC Wine & Arts Festival!

In the Wine Tent at the TC Wine & Arts Festival

In the Wine Tent at the TC Wine & Arts Festival


Dear friends and readers,

“Loving Traverse City” now has a new address. (It’s a lot easier to remember, too)  You can reach it easily by going to Or just follow this link.




I know June is a long way off, but this really can’t wait any longer.

Folk musician Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, whose life story was told in the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” will be the star performer at the 2013 Traverse City Wine & Arts Festival on June 22.

“We’ve already sold more advance tickets than we did last year, especially after ‘Sugar Man” took best documentary at the Oscars,” says festival organizer Andrew McFarlane. “People need to get their tickets now, because this is going to be a sellout.”

Now in its fifth year, the popular celebration of “wine, culture & cuisine” features tastings & full glass pours from 30 of the region’s best wineries, paired with food created by local chefs, artworks by local painters, potters, weavers and other artists, and a diverse slate of musical performers.

Over 4,000 people attended the 2012 festival, which takes place at one of Traverse City’s most scenic venues: the wide tree-shaded lawn of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons – a former mental asylum whose tawny castle-like buildings have become a hub of Traverse City’s bustling culinary scene.

Sixto Rodriguez

Sixto Rodriguez

Rodriguez, a Detroit-born singer-songwriter, released two albums in the early 1970s and then faded into near obscurity, earning his living as a construction worker and manual laborer until it was discovered that his music had achieved cult status in South Africa. The story of how two of his fans searched and eventually found him is the subject of “Searching for Sugar Man,” which was the opening film at the 2012 Traverse City Film Festival.

“When Rodriguez came to Traverse City last summer, there weren’t a whole lot of people talking about him,” explained festival director Laura Herd. “We knew right away that Rodriguez was the perfect musician to anchor our fifth annual festival, and we’ve been so happy to watch the world discover him.”

Rodriguez will be joined by The Crane Wives, an indie-folk band from Grand Rapids, the Ben Daniels Band of Chelsea, and Blake Elliott and the Robinson Affair from Traverse City.

Checking out the Wine & Arts Festival

Checking out the Wine & Arts Festival

Another new feature in this year’s festival will be an exclusive Friday evening “winemakers party,” where attendees get to try some of the area’s best wines while chatting with the winemakers who created them.

Over the past decade, Traverse City has acquired a sudden reputation for its fresh, imaginative cuisine and its excellent wines.  In recent years the region has been attracting and retaining a great many talented young chefs. Some are recent arrivals, and an impressive number are graduates of Traverse City’s own Great Lakes Culinary Institute.

Recently, superstar chef Mario Batali touted Traverse City in Bon Appetit, calling the area a “modern gastro-paradise.”

But the original spark was undoubtedly provided by the area’s thriving wine industry. Traverse City’s wines have become world contenders, outscoring California and even European labels in major international competitions for their clear, fresh taste. Notable for Rieslings, Chardonnays and Pinot Grigios, Traverse City area vintners are even receiving high praise for their red wines.

Traverse City’s wine country is located on two long peninsulas – Leelanau and Old Mission — that extend out into Lake Michigan, each with its own AVA designation and growers’ association. It was the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association that first saw the potential of a festival to showcase local wines and foods. This year’s festival is the culmination of that vision, said Matt Gregory, president of the Leelanau Wine Trail.

The end of the evening....

The end of the evening….

“It’s the mission of the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival to bring rare and wonderful performances,” said Gregory. “Offering our fans the chance to see a budding superstar like Rodriguez on the big stage in a beautiful outdoor setting here in Northern Michigan is exactly why we created the festival.”

Tickets, packages and information about the entire weekend’s activities including the new Friday night Winemakers Party are available at

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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