Featuring more than 140 miles of beachfront, charming beach towns, and attractions for all interests, Southwest Michigan is perfect for your next big adventure. Warren Dunes State Park is ideal for outdoor lovers and anyone in search of beach-themed fun. The Park covers more than 1,900 acres of Lake Michigan shorefront, and contains massive dunes, three miles of beachfront, and more than six miles of trails. Visitors looking for unique things to do are in the right spot. The Silver Beach Carousel (St. Joseph) features a visually stunning carousel with 48 hand carved figures, Harbor Shores Golf Club (Benton Harbor) is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course with public tee times, and the Box Factory of Arts (St. Joseph) has three art galleries and a variety of live performances.
The Makers Trail Festival is entering its first year, and it will take place June 9 at Weko Beach. This event is a celebration of Southwestern Michigan's top winemakers, brewers, and distillers. Attendees can sample a variety of beer, wine, and libations while mingling with fellow enthusiasts and producers. From craft IPAs to merlots, people won't have an issue finding something to suit their palate. A collection of favorite beach music artists including Billy Strings, James Neary & The Bevy Blue, and more will perform throughout the event. Patrons will also have the opportunity to sample cuisine from some favorite local vendors including Woodstock & Grill Food Truck, Lake Street Eats, Classic Catering, and The Ice Machine Food Truck. Tickets are $10 if purchased in advance and $15 if bought at the door. The event’s proceeds will go to Bridgman Area Chamber and Growth Alliance, which provides community development and chamber services to the region. We interviewed Event Representative, Katie White, to learn more about the initial run of this unique event.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
KW: This is the first annual event!
RAL: How many annual attendees do you draw?
KW: We expect thousands of attendees.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
KW: We expect a large percentage to be 21+, but families are welcome. It's a great time to get away as a couple or group of friends!
RAL: What makes this event unique?
KW: There are many wine and beer fests, but this is special because it highlights the makers of beer, wine, and spirits. It's not just a celebration; it's a tasting of their unique product offerings in the area they produce them. All makers are from Berrien County, so you're sampling only products made locally.
RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?
KW: Here is the live music schedule:
1:00-2:00 pm - The Undertakers Blues Band
2:30-3:30 pm - The Andrew Fisher Quartet
4:00-5:00 pm - StarHeart
5:30-6:45 pm - James Neary & The Bevy Blue
7:30-9:30 pm - Billy Strings (headliner)
RAL: Tell us about the overall atmosphere?
KW: It's laid back, but full of energy with the live music performances. Billy Strings is known to break his guitar strings regularly from playing with such vigor!
RAL: Our travelers seek out unique and boutique accommodations, where can they find these in your area?
KW: We offer a wide range of options for any budget. We have many of the chain hotels people know and trust, plus local boutique hotels such as the Inn at Harbor Shores and The Boulevard Inn.
RAL: Are there any lodging specials or special promotions that are set up for the event?
KW: We are offering transportation to and from the festival from the following hotels:
America’s Best Value Inn
Comfort Suites Stevensville
Fairfield Inn & Suites
Hilton Garden Inn
Holiday Inn Express Benton Harbor
Holiday Inn Express St. Joseph
Inn at Harbor Shores
Patrons don't have to worry about a designated driver, we'll pick up from the hotel lobby and drop you off at the end of the day!
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
KW: The area was one of the first in the state to have a winery scene, but in past years we've become home to such unique wineries, breweries, and distilleries. This is a source of pride for people in the community. On top of that, we have the beautiful beaches, which we are showcasing in this event as well!
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
KW: Absolutely, wineries, breweries, and distilleries provide a massive economic boom to the area. The more people who come to visit the city, the better.
RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?
KW: The event benefits the Bridgman Area Chamber and Growth Alliance.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
KW: Summer is special in Southwest Michigan, and this event showcases the best of what we have to offer. If you book at one of the local hotels, you'll get transportation too, so we'll make the planning easy for you. Just make your reservation, show up and see the best of what summer has to offer.
For more information about the Makers Trail Festival, please visit the event website.