Arts & Entertainment

Wild west captured in deer farm turned agri-tourism resort

October 4, 2012 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA When you have over 200 beautiful white tailed deer fenced adjacent to a major road, people will stop and want to see them. That’s the experience of the Powell family, who opened their working deer farm in 2003. Located at 7850 14 Mile Road (M-57), their 80-acre business has received a lot of attention from passersby. They tried to accommodate curious visitors to the best of their ability, but the farm wasn’t really set up for tours. Now it is. Deer Tracks Junction is now open for business as a family destination with hands-on live animal interaction, a stage coach ride through the pens of hundreds of live and spectacular deer, a chance for kids to touch a real reindeer or baby yak, a play train with cars for climbing, crawling and exploring a three-level maze car, plus an indoor facility featuring spectacular mounts of caribou, Musk ox, wolves and an auditorium for live education shows featuring actors in costume. “Once you buy your ticket, you can just enjoy the day here,” said owner Kelly Powell, who operates Deer Tracks Junction with his wife Hilary and 16-year-old son Tyler. At just $10 a ticket, from the play train, the Stage Coach Ride, live shows, and life sized animal mounts to the different old-fashioned, Wild West stations within the Deer Tracks Junction building, the price is a great buy. He said he wants his working deer farm shows and tours to be affordable for families and believes visitors will support his vision. Other business people in the area believe the farm will add to the reasons people come to the area. The family made the decision to expand into what is called Agricultural tourism because it made sense to them on many levels. They hope to bring something unique, exciting and valuable to the area as a legacy and as a living. “It’s hard in Michigan right now,” said Powell. “I don’t want my son to have to leave the state to find a job.” Deer Tracks not only will be the future livelihood for Tyler, but offered the family the chance to hire others who help in the business. The work is seasonal, but at a recent job fair at the ranch […]

Rockford to host 30th marching band invitational

September 20, 2012 // 0 Comments

The Rockford High School Marching Band is proud to host its 30th annual Marching Band Invitational on Saturday, September 22, 2012. This year’s event is slated to be one of the most exciting ever, with 17 bands performing in competition and the Rockford Marching Band providing the finale with their exhibition performance of this year’s show entitled Calls from the Masai Mara. For those who may not be familiar with what a Marching Invitational involves, each band performs their 2012 show and are scored by professional judges on how they look, sound, and move. It is a great event for those who enjoy watching marching bands with other patrons who share their enthusiasm. Rockford’s band is expansive this year, with 262 dedicated members who are multitalented, and is under the exceptional leadership of director Brian Phillips. The Rockford Invitational begins at 3:25 p.m. with the playing of our National Anthem, continues throughout the afternoon with Rockford’s performance at 8:35 p.m. signaling the end of the event. The order of performances of the visiting bands will be posted on the Rockford Marching Band’s website, The cost for admission to the Invitational is $7.00 for adults, $5.00 for seniors 60+ and students. Children 4 and under are free! You can purchase a Family Pass for a family of 4 or more for $20. Visitors will receive one Invitational program with each paid admission (Family Pass counting as 1). Extra programs can be purchased for $2.00. No Golden Age passes will be honored at this event as it is a fundraiser for the Rockford Marching Band. Gates open at 1:45 and the Concession Stand will be open all day! The students and parents of the Rockford High School Marching Band hope to see you there!

Rockford group to submit entry, perform at ArtPrize

September 13, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER A Rockford woman is working to turn her dream into reality with an ArtPrize performance that will feature 90 area singers as well as a song entry the public can vote on at the event. ArtPrize, which runs this year from September 19 to October 7, was founded in 2009 and has been restructured over the last four years but still features the world’s largest art prize along with being the largest art competition to decide its awards by public vote. There will be 16 prizes totaling $550,000 that will be distributed in 2012. Of this amount, $350,000 will be decided by a direct vote of attending visitors and $200,000 by a panel of jurors. The top public vote awards will be for $200,000 for first, $75,000 for second, $50,000 for third and $5,000 for fourth through 10th places. For more information on ArtPrize, visit “It is my dream to organize a 90-voice choir from the Rockford community to perform at ArtPrize 2012,” said Renee Vande Wege, Rockford Community Choir director. Members of local church choirs, professional singers, high school choir members or individuals who have a singing talent but are not currently involved in any group all are welcome to join the Rockford Community Choir for the performance. “We’re excited. We’re probably a little nervous. We’re feeling all the things you feel before you perform,” she said. The choir that is being put together features a gamut of voices from a fifth-grader through a 75-year-old area resident. Vande Wege took over conducting the Rockford Community Choir from Kayle Clements, a local composer. The ArtPrize entry the public can vote on will be a piece that the Rockford Area Arts Commission commissioned Clements to write. The vote code is 53416. Two Roads is a four-part a capella piece that will be performed at St. Cecilia Music Center at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22. A four-person recording will showcase the entry so the public can vote when the group is not performing. Two Roads uses the text of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” Vande Wege said. “The idea for this song evolved out of my life journey this past year and my desire to draw together the multitude of […]

Walk through history at encampment

September 6, 2012 // 0 Comments

The West Michigan Living History and Educational Association would like to invite the public to the 26th Annual Grand Rogue Living History Encampment on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15-16. Every year on the second weekend after Labor Day, visitors can view first hand what life in early America was like at the annual Grand Rogue Living History Encampment. This is a timeline event featuring military and civilian living historians demonstrating our country’s history from colonial times to the present. The event is supported by generous local citizens and businesses, and is open to the public at no charge. At the Encampment, historical re-enactors will be wearing authentic period clothing and living in period shelters. Traditional artisans will demonstrate their historic skills, including blacksmithing and woodworking throughout the weekend. Activities will also include musket and cannon firing and multi-period military tactical demonstrations. The average participant has invested upwards of $1,000 in authentic clothing and equipment, and countless hours of research to perfect their historic portrayals. Many of them have participated as consultants and extras in historical films and documentaries, including “The Last of the Mohicans” and the award-winning History Channel series “Frontier: Legends of the Old Northwest.” On Friday, prior to the main event, about 400 children—fourth-grade level, from several schools—will be arriving for an all-day event (invitation only) to participate in a historical educational program. Eight stations are set up, such as Jacques LeBlanc, period surveyors, music and storytelling, blacksmiths, colonial woodworkers, French and British soldiers, French voyageurs and an Indian camp. The day’s activities will be culminated by the firing of an authentic six-pound British field gun. The Encampment is held at the Grand Rogue Campground, 6400 West River Road, Comstock Park. Hours for the public are Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, you may visit the website at Handicapped parking is available.

Local theatre group reaches higher level

September 6, 2012 // 0 Comments

The curtain is opening on a whole new approach to community theatre in Rockford, with the debut of the Rogue River Community Theatre Company (RRCTC). “The nonprofit corporation, formed this summer, is taking local theatre to a higher level of professionalism and community engagement,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Homrich, head of an 11-member board overseeing the new group. “We’ve enjoyed tremendous support over the years and I am confident this change will improve local theatre and ensure it’s around for many years to come,” Homrich said. “We are building on a foundation of success and integrity established more than a decade ago.” The Rogue River Community Theatre Company will be led by a board of directors, including a four-member executive board consisting of Homrich, Vice President Mike Jonkman, Treasurer Stephanie Gamble and Secretary Shannon Rop. Board directors are John Bagin, Kirsten Bagin, PJ Bevelacqua, John Hogan, Tracy Strome and Brian Thomas. The 11-member board is rounded out by Director of Theatre Patricia Rose. “Having this level of the performing arts in Rockford is a real community treasure,” said Jonkman. “Everyone in the Rockford area should take advantage of this unique asset.” Rogue River Theatre started in the late 1990s as a fledging group of Rockford residents offering stage productions once or twice a year. Beyond traditional spring and fall plays, the all-volunteer cast expanded its mission to include Reader’s Theatre productions for adults and Actors del Arte’ Ensemble, which performs dinner theatres in the Grand Rapids area. The three ensembles collectively present about eight productions a year. In 2003, Rogue River Theatre launched an annual Summer Theatre Arts Camp for school-age children grades K-12. This year’s weeklong summer camp had 62 participants. The theatre group has been under the umbrella of the Rockford Area Arts Commission (RAAC) and in recent years has been a key contributor to its annual income. “We don’t look at it as a defection, but a cause to celebrate,” said RAAC Chairman Jeff Lewis. “We’re ecstatic to have community members who are excited to take the helm and expand the arts one audience member or one actor at a time.” RAAC was founded in 1975 to encourage and sponsor programs and services promoting the arts and cultural activities in […]

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