Summer events worth stepping out for

Courtesy Photo /
Founders Fest 2009

Courtesy Photo / Founders Fest 2009

Elijah Brumback

Put on your best slacks, tip that hat and don’t forget your dancing shoes because the best of the summer is surely on its way. With plenty of art, music and entertainment, Grand Rapids and the surrounding areas aren’t letting anyone down, no matter the taste. Here is an early line-up of some of the events to be featured this summer:

Founders Fest:

June 19 will mark the third annual Founders Fest celebration. Founders has distinguished its brand among other microbreweries across the country and their specially-crafted beers have the awards to prove it. With a huge selection of ales to choose from, everyone’s parched palette should be able to find something to his or her liking. Not only will there be enough beer (and food) to rival the Dionysian orgies of Greek lore, but there will be music too. The band line-up features Lotus, Frontier Ruckus, The Wildfire, The Riley Brothers, DJ Spydre Murphy, Larry & his Flask and the FBC All-Stars. The event will take place from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m at 235 Grandville Ave. Go to to purchase tickets now.

Local First Street Party:

The seventh annual Local First Street Party is June 12 and Founders Brewing will co-sponsor the festivities. With more than 10,000 attendees last year, the celebration is sure to draw an even larger crowd. Local First supports locally-owned businesses and this is their premier event of the season. There will be food, drinks and free music from 4 p.m. to midnight. Bands slated to play this year include: AB! Conconut Brown, Chance Jones, DJ Super Dre, Four Finger Five and acclaimed Grand Rapids-natives The Verve Pipe will headline. You might remember them from their radio hit “The Freshman” or their 1996 release Villans. The party will take place outside Bistro Bella Vita, 44 Grandville Ave.

Grand Rapids Chalk Flood:

Last year this event brought more than 5,000 people to the streets of downtown Grand Rapids and for one day people were legally allowed to tag the streets and alleyways with the vibrant colors of chalk. Rob Bliss, the man behind the idea, will once again bring more than 20,000 pieces of chalk to Rosa Parks Circle for everyone to enjoy. Bliss is a local artist known for his creative concepts. Last year Bliss was also one of the lead creative minds behind the “Reassembling the Bracelet Collaborative,” which took pieces of a large canvas painting and sold them, with some pieces eventually making their way to places overseas with the idea to later reassemble them at Art Prize. The focus for his work has been revolving around community initiatives and getting recognition for the arts in the city, no matter the form. The Chalk Flood is a prime example of that effort. The flood will rush in June 13 at noon.

UICA’s Final Exhibitions on Sheldon Boulevard:

On June 11, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art will display the art of Rebecca Murtaugh, Bryan Leister, Justin Webb, Nicole Vruwink, Chritopher Gauthier and the group exhibition The mediums stretch from installation work to painting, each with its own theme. Liester’s piece, titled “Transit”, explores landscape and combines projection animation, sound and 3D print sculptures. With Colorado as his focus, Leister depicts layers of representation. Vruwink’s piece, titled “To you. From me. Love Nicola”, explores the ephemeral nature of things in society with interest in being alone in the urban landscape. Her work is comprised of crocheted cassette tape. is the work of more than 30 artists in a effort to rouse emotional and physical displacement in broad contexts including social, economical and political ideas. The exhibit will be open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free and food and drinks will be provided.

Weekends at the GRAM:

The Grand Rapid Art Museum will host a slew of events each week and weekend all summer long. This week starts GRAM on the Green. The museum encourages everyone to come downtown and spend some time at the Downtown GR Bazaar. Every Friday night on the GRAM terrace there will be live music, outdoor sketching, games for all ages and food and drinks. Merchants will also sell a variety of unique items around Rosa Parks Circle.

Summer reading at the Grand Rapids Public Library:

June begins the GRPL summer reading program. The 10 chosen books this year either feature Michigan as the setting or are by Michigan authors. The titles were selected by the staff and should offer a varying degree of insightful reading. The program will also feature a multitude of activities inspired by the books. On June 17 New York City-based teen author Kekla Magoon will speak at the GRPL. She is the author “The Rock and the River” and several other volumes. She will host a writing workshop on the day as well. To register visit:

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