In my opinion, July is the most “American” month of the year! Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet, right? The heat of summer is upon us and I love it…turn it up (those that complain are typically those that are also surprised when it snows in winter…we live in MICHIGAN, remember)!
There are plenty of cool things to do in Michigan in July – which is good, considering it is “National Anti-Boredom Month,” July is also National Picnic Month AND National Culinary Arts Month – which means we’ve been given permission to celebrate the art of eating (and drinking) outside, preferably. Let’s get started!
Michigan Craft Beer Month (www.mibeer.com) – The Michigan Brewers Guild celebrates each July with the Summer Beer Festival at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti’s Historic Old Town District. More than 60 breweries will be serving up samples of 400+ beers at this year’s event – July 27-28. This year, the Guild is also celebrating its 15th Anniversary!
National Hot Dog Month – Michigan is home to a handful of major hot dog manufacturers! ConAgra Foods operates an Armour hot dog plant in Quincy, which is where Hebrew National products have been made since 2004. Koegel was founded in Flint in 1916 and Kowalski has been operating in Hamtramck since the 1950s. As a footnote…the original chili sauce used on Coney Island hot dogs was founded in 1914 by Richard Todoroff of Todoroff’s in Jackson, Michigan.
National Pickle Month – Michigan ranks #1 in the national in the production of pickling cucumbers – the fourth most cultivated vegetable crop in the world. Michigan, pickling cucumber production is relatively stable, with an average of approximately 330,000 pounds per year. Pickling cucumbers are mainly produced in Van Buren, Gratiot, St. Joseph, Allegan and Arenac counties. In 1897, the Heinz company opened a pickle factory in Holland and today it is the largest such facility in the world!
Vlasic Pickles originally grew out of a Detroit creamery begun by Croatian immigrant Franjo Vlasic in the 1920s. Initially the pickles were sold in large barrels, but according to the official Vlasic Pickles website, Joe and his son Bob invented the concept of packaging pickles in small glass jars in 1942 when the Vlasic Pickle brand was officially born. The company was bought out by Pinnacle Foods in 2001. A factory still operates in Imlay City.
National Baked Bean Month (www.michiganbean.org) – Michigan is known throughout the world as a top producer of dry edible beans – with more than 2500 bean growers, contributing over $120 million to our state’s economy. Among the most prominent beans grown in Michigan are cranberry beans, black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and the great northern bean – the main variety of beans used in baked beans!
National Blueberry Month (www.blueberries.com) – Michigan is #1 one in highbush blueberry production in the country with almost 600 farms and over 19,000 acres. Michigan grows up to 100 million pounds of blueberries each year. Most of the acreage is located in five southwestern counties along the Lake Michigan shore: Berrien, Van Buren, Allegan, Ottawa and Muskegon, where some 20 varieties are grown – contributing more than $130 million to the state’s economy. Each August, the community of South Haven (the “Blueberry Capital of the World”) hosts its annual Blueberry Festival – this year, celebrating its 49th year.
National Ice Cream Month – Michigan ranks #5 nationally in annual ice cream production. On a national scale, the US is the top country in the world for ice cream consumption – making it an $11 billion retail industry. Vanilla is the #1 flavor sold, but given that it’s used to make many other flavors that makes sense.
Michigan his home to many notable ice cream manufacturers, including (but not limited to) Sherman’s (South Haven), House of Flavors (Ludington), Original Moose Tracks – created by Denali (Wayland), Deans & Plainwell Ice Cream (Plainwell), Moomers (Traverse City), Country Fresh (Grand Rapids) and Stroh’s (Detroit).
Of note is Holland’s Hudsonville Ice Cream – manufacturer of the Pure Michigan Caramel Apple flavor! This flavor was created after a statewide contest in early 2012 – a partnership with the Michigan Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources and Travel Michigan. As part of the “Passport to Summer RV Tour” residents and visitors to Michigan can sample this tasty flavor. The RV Tour schedule is available online >>here<<.
Michigan Camping & RV Month (www.michigancampingandrvmonth.com) – Did you know that camping is the #1 outdoor activity in the country – and that here in Michigan, it’s a major contributor to the state’s $18 billion tourism industry. Michigan is home to more than 950 licensed private RV parks and campgrounds, with more than 111,000 licensed camp sites. There are more than 160 county or government operated campgrounds, with more than 14,700 sites. There are 98 state parks and recreation areas in Michigan, as well as 133 state forest campgrounds. The US Forest Service offers 15,000 sites on state and federal lands in its even forests, parks and lakeshore areas in Michigan.