The Kalamazoo Wedding Affair sets brides-to-be and their fianc?s loose to explore, meet, and bounce ideas off some of west Michigan's most sought-after wedding experts. Dozens of exhibitors converge to create a buffet of possibilities that range from bridal fashions, cakes, and catering to gift registries and photographers. Couples can also scope out postceremony services, including reception halls and honeymoon destinations.
More than 2,000 animals populate John Ball Zoo, crawling, swimming, and flying from five different continents and more than 250 different species. The zoo has some other impressive stats: in 2013 alone, for instance, more than 500,000 visitors flocked to John Ball Zoo to marvel at its collection of creatures. Animal-lovers can spot critters big and small, from lions and bears to lizards and lemurs. In the North America section, they come nose-to-nose with grizzlies, and on the Far Side of the World Trail, they get close enough to smell the wallabies' cologne.
At some exhibits, the view is even closer. Visitors can pet stingrays and sharks, ride atop the humps of a camel, and stop by the petting zoo at Red's Hobby Farm. For an adrenaline fix, zoo adventures include the zip line, offering bird's-eye views of the farm from a four-story, 300-foot line.
As the sun dips below Coopersville Farm Museum and Event Center’s grain silo, local musicians gather in the high-ceilinged hall against the backdrop of patchwork quilts and antique farm tools. They sing gospel, country, and folk songs that have been passed down for generations. Events such as these are one facet of the museum’s mission to honor and uphold rural traditions. In addition to the monthly jam sessions, the 12,000-square-foot facility hosts quilting circles, line dancing, and other skill-swapping events. Curators spotlight the region’s agrarian past by recruiting antique-farming tools and folk art and freeing hopelessly lost scarecrows from corn mazes. In addition to shining a light on the region’s past, the museum strives to support current culture makers; The hall serves as a gallery space for local artists, and during the youth-led Kids’ Day local teens teach tykes creative skills.
The not-for-profit Forever Curious Children's Museum sprang from a simple philosophy: children learn best by doing. The museum?s labyrinthine series of exhibits embodies that philosophy with its myriad opportunities for interactive play, exploration, and experimentation.
Casual visitors, birthday-party guests, and students on field trips can huddle inside the life-size wigwam and wooden canoe at the First People exhibit, which introduces young ones to America?s earliest inhabitants. Science exhibits encourage children to suit up in doctors? coats and study the human body or take a wheelchair for a spin to better empathize with disabled people. Learning begins at an early age, and the museum?s penned-in toddler area fascinates the youngest of minds with mini home furniture such an easy chair and a bed, beneath which lurks a disarmingly pintsize boogeyman.
Art is both a passion and profession for Michelle Calkins, one of Four Corners Framing Company's experienced artisans. Michelle earned her full certification from the Professional Picture Framing Association after mastering its meticulous techniques for framing pictures, textiles, and memorabilia. The plethora of framing methods and materials—imported from more than 25 vendors—enables any artwork to find its match, be it in a traditional wood frame or a contemporary metal one. Unable to limit her creative talents to the realm of custom framing, Michelle creates vibrant artwork of her own inspired by still lifes, outdoor scenery, and police descriptions.
Skilled artist Regina Marie Johandes employs more than 30 years of experience working with fused glass as she creates original pieces and enlightens budding artisans. Regina's vibrant, full-service studio brims with chromatic creations including jewelry, home decorations, and celestial road maps. Informative workshops taught by Regina and a team of talented instructors bestow glass-fusion knowledge upon nascent creators, teaching each step from cutting and coloring to fusing and tossing into a wishing well. Students leave with a one-of-a-kind bauble, and local artists working at the studio are available to enhance custom pieces with their wire- or metal-manipulating prowess.