Trip on a Tank

So much to see and do in rural Western Michigan

Autumn is a beautiful time in Michigan. One of Michiganders favorite fall pastimes is simply taking a ride around the state and enjoying the beautiful color Mother Nature has created.

This fall take a trip north of Grand Rapids and find a lovely display of Michigan changing seasons – and so much more.

Breakout the red flannel and head just 20 miles north of Grand Rapids to Cedar Springs, a charming little town with a unique and historic festival the first Saturday in October. Known as the Red Flannel capital of the world, Cedar Springs celebrates Red Flannel Day, this year marking the 76th year Saturday October 3.

Red Flannel Day began back in 1936 when a feature writer from New York complained that “Here we are in the midst of an old-fashioned winter and there are no red flannels in the USA to go with it.” The news reached Cedar Springs and the local newspaper the Cedar Springs Clipper, owned and edited by “The Clipper Gals” Nina Babcock and Grace Hamilton. They answered the writer with red hot editorial stating “Just because Sak’s Fifth Avenue does not carry red flannels, it doesn’t follow that no one in the country does. CEDAR SPRINGS’ merchants have red flannels!” The story was picked up by The Associated Press and orders began pouring in from all over the United States. The first Red Flannel day was celebrated in 1939 and it is now the 15th oldest festival in the state.

Red Flannel Day features a Grand Parade, Western obstacle course, wine and micro brew tasting event, comedy review, bed races and car and tractor show. For more information visit www.redflannelfestival.org.

Get a taste of the Wild West in West Michigan with a trip to Deer Tracks Junction. Located on more than 100 acres in Cedar Springs, Deer Tracks Junction features a hands-on petting farm, wildlife tours and wild west playground structures. The hands-on farm allows visitors to pet and feed goats, mini donkeys and KuneKune pigs to name a few. Wildlife Safari tours are offered in the evenings in an enclosed climate controlled stagecoach and give visitors a chance to see whitetail deer, elk, reindeer and Tibetan yaks. If the animals are cooperating visitors can pet and feed these animals as well. Deer Tracks Junction is open in September Wednesday through Sunday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, and ticket prices visit deertracksjunction.com or like their page on Facebook.

Enjoy a variety of local artistry at the Rockford Area Arts Commission’s Art in the Park September 12. Located 20 miles north of Grand Rapids, the juried art exhibition is set in the city’s Garden Club Park along the Rouge River. Limited to 34 artists the events draws exhibitors from around the state featuring works in pottery, stoneware, sculpture, jewelry, glassworks, painting, photography, fiber arts and more. The artists are also on hand and sell their works. For more information visit the Rockford Chamber of Commerce at rockfordmichamber.com.

Take in the sights and sounds of nature on a quiet bike ride along the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail. The 45.8 mile trail runs from Greenville, about 30 miles northeast of Grand Rapids, north to Edmore and then east to Alma, as part of a rails to trail conservancy. The trail is completely paved and maintained and takes riders over rivers and streams, through meadows and wetlands and farms and quaint small towns. For more information or a detailed map visit www.traillink.com/trail/fred-meijer-heartland-trail.

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