Why can’t every day be a wine festival?

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Seriously, I would love to spend every single day just like I spent it on Saturday, when I attended the 4th Annual Traverse City Wine & Art Festival. I’ve been wanting to go ever since the festival’s inception, and now that I’ve been to one I am already making plans to go next year… and the year after… and the year after that!

I was originally supposed to go with my husband, but his work schedule for the weekend would have made the trip feel rushed so he decided to stay home. Instead, I brought along my friend Christina. Every woman needs a Girls Weekend once in a while, right?

In addition to 27 wineries (all under one massive 10,000 square foot tent), there were vendor booths featuring artisans of all kinds and phenomenal gourmet food. Oh the food! But we’ll get to that later.

First, let’s talk about the most important part of the festival: the wine! If you didn’t know already, you might be surprised to learn that Michigan’s northwestern lower peninsula is one of the best wine regions in the world. And I’m not just saying that because I live here. I’ve tried a lot of different wines from a lot of different parts of the world, and I’ve got to say that nothing holds a candle to the delicious varieties I’ve tasted here.

I should have kept a list of the wines I tried. By the end of the day I’d sampled so many it was difficult to keep them straight. But I do know that everything I tried was delicious! I can tell you for certain, though, my favorite wine of the day. (It was already my favorite wine long before this weekend!) If there is only one Michigan wine that you ever try in your entire life, it should be the Peach Cremant from 45 North Winery. 75% sparkling white wine, 25% cold-pressed peach juice, 100% incredible. With the hundreds of wines there to sample, it was the first thing I drank when I walked into the festival and the only one I went back for a second time later in the day. When I drink this stuff I don’t even need a glass – just give me the whole darn bottle! It’s almost too good to share. Almost. If you ever see me drinking some and ask really nice I’ll probably let you try some. As long as you say please.

The food at the festival was incredible. There were nine or ten of Traverse City’s finest gourmet restaurants on hand, each selling a selection of small plates. I tried the veggie sushi from Poppycocks and a Thai skewer (vegan!) from Om Cafe. They were both so yummy! Christina had some baked ravioli that looked incredible too! If I’d had a bottomless stomach and a bottomless wallet, I could have spent the entire afternoon grazing the food booths. The whole area around the food was full of so many incredible smells!

But the thing that made me go this year, the deciding factor in purchasing a ticket, was the entertainment. Every minute of the day was filled with dazzling sights and sounds! I shot videos of a few of the acts, but for most of the day I was busy with a glass of wine in hand while dancing around, so managing the camera was difficult. So I didn’t end up with any footage of The Naughty Neighbors or Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk. Sigh.

I did get some footage of Orpheum Bell, one of my very favorite bands EVER (and the reason I bought tickets!), but my camera’s battery decided to have weird issues during their set so none of them turned out very well. Bummer. But since they are so high on my list of bands I love, I really need to share a song. This video is of their song “Skinny Bird” – this is the song that they closed their set with. Maybe next time I see them I will get some good footage of my own! (See why I love them???)

So what did I end up with footage of? A few really fun things! In between the bands that played there were various other performances, which ended up being some of my favorite parts of the day. I was especially excited about the Northern Starlets Burlesque Troupe! I’d never seen burlesque before (unless watching “Cabaret” counts). It was so.much.FUN! The girls were all sexy in a 1950s pinup way, with curvy bodies that they weren’t afraid to show off. Most of the numbers ended with them all wearing nothing but fancy underpants and pasties (nipple covers!), yet it was a very tasteful performance. They performed several times during the day, and during one of those performances there was a little old lady standing next to me. I would guess her age somewhere around 75 or 80. She was having a rollicking good time, enjoying every moment of it!

The piece from the burlesque troupe that I got on video is much more PG than most of their show. It depicts a pair of puppets defying their master. It was so cute to watch!

There were also a couple of performances by belly dancers from Crystal Bindi Studios. Honestly, it made me want to take belly dancing lessons! There was another dancer who did a solo performance later in the day, and she was incredible, but at that time I had a glass of wine in one hand and a plate of food in the other, so the camera stayed in my purse. You’ll have to just take my word she was AMAZING!

While it’s not generally my “thing”, I also enjoyed the performance by the Urban Elements Dance Crew. These folks can seriously MOVE – especially considering that they were out dancing for over 10 straight minutes on a black dance floor in the beating sun on a 90+ degree day. I have the utmost respect for that!

The culmination of the festival was a headlining performance by Rusted Root. Remember them? Their sound totally takes me back to my high school and college days in the 90s! This isn’t the best video I’ve ever shot, but when you consider that shooting it entailed holding the camera elevated over my head for nearly 15 minutes, it’s not that bad. (Hey, you try doing that and then get back to me, k?)

It turned out to be one of the most fabulous days of my summer! Christina and I will definitely be there again next year. If you’re anywhere near Traverse City, Michigan, you should go too!

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