• Photo: Chris McGuire

News Releases

Welcome to our media page where past and present news releases, events, and articles about the South Haven area and Van Buren County are archived.

For media inquires, contact Lisa Marovec, Director of Marketing and Member Services

(direct line) 269-206-3101 or lmarovec@southhaven.org
 

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September 26, 2016

South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau Renovates Office Inside and Out

The Bureau boasts a newly-remodeled office this year with a fresh, welcoming look, which has been remarked upon by many residents and visitors alike this 2016 summer season.

 

As visitors stroll to the southwest corner of Phoenix and Broadway, they can observe the freshly-renovated exterior. The building has new roof and updated facade of cool, white stucco. The front of the building presents a new sign with front-lit channel letters with a halo effect presenting the new South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau logo. On the west side of the building, visitors can view the new color burst logo and beach scene window graphic.

 

As visitors step inside the door, they are embraced by a genuine feel of South Haven, with a freshly-painted sky blue reception area with nautical beach decor and open design. The front features a stone fireplace hearth seating area with a variety of tables for the comfort of guests as they peruse through travel information. Guests are  greeted by knowledgeable and pleasant support staff that assist them as they seek specific information on attractions, lodging, and events. The staff at South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau offers dedicated service to guests and members with summer operating hours seven days a week.

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A non-profit destination marketing organization, the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau enhances tourism and the economy by positioning South Haven and Van Buren County as a top travel destination.

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April 12, 2016

The South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau Expands Management Team, Announces New Position

To support the growing South Haven area tourism industry and growth of its lodging members, the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau is pleased to announce the addition of Lisa Marovec in the new role of Director of Marketing and Member Services. Lisa joins Scott Reinert, whose appointment to the Executive Director position was effective January 4, 2016.

 

Reinert’s corporate background includes various roles at Frito-Lay division of Pepsico, Inc., spanning 20 years including the position of Vice President of Operations and Research & Development. Some of his past experiences in tourism include roles as the Manager of South Haven Lakeshore office for Jaqua Realtors, former owner of the Carriage House at the Harbor Bed and Breakfast, as well as serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the South Haven Visitors Bureau.

 

Lisa has a diverse background with over twenty-five years strategic marketing experience including brand management, social media strategy, event marketing, and media relations, in addition to most recently owning her own marketing consulting agency. Lisa’s previous roles, such as a member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers, as well as the Director of Marketing Services for the National Restaurant Association, give her highly-applicable qualifications for this new position.

 

Marovec’s primary responsibilities will include assisting in the execution of an annual marketing plan, increasing awareness of South Haven as a premier travel destination, and developing programs to increase year-round occupancy levels for member properties. 

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A non-profit destination marketing organization, the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau enhances tourism and the economy by positioning South Haven and Van Buren County as a top travel destination.

 

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August 19, 2015

South Haven was recently featured in an article entitled: 'A Michigan Bucket List: 50 Things You Need to Do In the Wolverine State.' We are proud to have Cats Meow Cruises featured in an article about sailing on Lake Michigan. Enjoy the article . . . 

http://www.vacationsmadeeasy.com/TheBLT/AMichiganBucketList50ThingsYouNeedtoDoIntheWolverineState.html

We appreciate the great coverage! Thanks to Rebecca Potter for including us in your blog. 

Best,  Lisa Shanley

Executive Director

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The “Win a Piece of Paradise” Raffle Offers Lake Michigan Property for $100 per Ticket.

West Michigan Citizen’s Group Conducting Summer Fundraising Raffle to Support Construction of The Blue Star Trail

What could be better than owning a prime piece of land with private access to the Lake Michigan beach?

“The chance to win it for as little as $100,” says Jeanne Van Zoeren, head of a West Michigan Citizens’ Group that will sponsor a raffle this summer whose grand prize is a parcel of approximately 0.22 acres of land located in the Miami Park subdivision of Casco Township in Allegan County, Michigan. The property, located in the South Haven school district, comes with deeded access to 1400 feet of private Lake Michigan beach through the New Miami Park Stair Association.

 

Van Zoeren is the President of the Board of Directors of the all-volunteer Friends of The Blue Star Trail, a 501(c)(3) organization leading the construction of a non-motorized recreation trailway connecting communities along the lakeshore from South Haven to Saugatuck. The group is holding the raffle to raise additional community-based funding to support future phases of the project. As of this month, the first 2 miles of the 19.6-mile Blue Star Trail are completed or underway.

 

“The ‘Win a Piece of Paradise’ Raffle is really a once-in-a lifetime opportunity,” says Van Zoeren. “Every summer, visitors and nearby residents flock to our unique, pristine dunes and beaches. Now they have a chance to enjoy permanent private access year-round, and an appreciating investment, for as little as $100.”

 

Tickets for the “Win a Piece of Paradise raffle” are available throughout the summer at both the South Haven Visitors and Convention Center, 546 Phoenix Street, in South Haven (www.southhaven.org), and at the Saugatuck-Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau, 95 Blue Star Highway, in Douglas (www.saugatuck.com). Tickets can be purchased for $100 each, and there is no limit to the number that can be purchased. Volunteers of The Friends of the Blue Star Trail organization will also be selling tickets at various locations and events along the lakeshore. The drawing for the grand prize will take place on Labor Day, September 7th, at 1pm at the Casco Township Hall, 7401 107 Avenue, South Haven, Michigan. The winner need not be present at the drawing. Details regarding the raffle and ticket sales location information can be found at www.piece-of-paradise.org.

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June 11, 2015 from Western Michigan University Libraries:

South Haven, Michigan, Lighthouse Logbooks Digitized and Published.
 

Kalamazoo, Michigan: Western Michigan University (WMU) Libraries has completed the digitization of 3 logbooks, 1872 - 1889, from the South Haven lighthouse on Lake Michigan. They are now available to the public here: http://web.library.wmich.edu/digidb/lighthouse/  The link there will take you to an integrated image database where one can use the page-turner format to peruse any of the 3 books and zoom in to read the light keepers handwriting for yourself. The left of the screen contains metadata about the books and the digitization.

The main part of the collection consists of three volumes by James Donahue, also a civil war soldier who lost his leg in battle. His detailed daily entries are a rich grouping of the happenings and weather in this west Michigan port.

The Archives and Regional History Collections at WMU teamed up with the Libraries' Digitization Center to create high resolution, color-corrected, images with a high quality Hasselblad camera to bring a realistic experience to researchers and history buffs while digitally preserving the writings. These logbooks are challenging as each entry is written across 2 pages. Far left to far right of a 2 page spread is one days entry. Each spread averages 7 days. It is one of the highest quality lighthouse logbook collections to be found on-line.

An early news release about the project: http://www.wmich.edu/news/2015/04/23022

WMUK public radio interview with the creators of the digital collection: http://wmuk.org/post/wsw-glimpse-light-house-keeper-and-his-times

The digital collection in the LUNA book reader format: http://luna.library.wmich.edu:8180/luna/servlet/s/f49ic5


Please spread the news as desired. 
Thanks, - contact me with any questions.

Lou Ann Morgan
Communication Coordinator
Administration, University Libraries

Voice: 269-387-5202
Western Michigan University
1903 W. Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008-5353

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June 5, 2015
Contact: Kurt Maxwell, 269-637-2788

Van Buren State Park to host Step into Summer 5K and Kids Dash June 13

Dirt trail through the bright green forest at Van Buren State Park TrailSouth Haven Public Schools and the Maple Grove Elementary Parent Teacher Organization have announced the annual Step Into Summer 5K and Kids Dash at Van Buren State Park in South Haven, Michigan. The events are set for Saturday, June 13, with the 5K run/walk starting at 9 a.m. followed by the Kids Dash at 10 a.m. 

All race proceeds will be donated to the Maple Grove Elementary PTO to provide positive educational experiences, such as field trips and events, for students, families and educational staff. 

“The upcoming 5K race is a shining example of the Parent Teacher Organization’s commitment to making our school family-friendly,” said Maple Grove Principal Kimberly Cross. “I am absolutely delighted to have such an ambitious PTO group, and I am truly looking forward to the event.”

Race participants will experience a diverse and scenic course, traversing wooded trails, seeing spectacular views of Lake Michigan and even traveling down a sand dune as they transition from woods to the water's edge near the finish of the 5K course. 

“This course really takes you through the natural splendor of Van Buren State Park,” said Maple Grove PTO Co-President Melanie Ruppert after walking the course for the race. “I do not know of another race with as much natural excitement as this course.” 

“This partnership will not only help support the kids and teachers in the classroom, but also encourage young people to stay active, get outdoors and reconnect with nature,” said Van Buren State Park Supervisor Kurt Maxwell. “We’re proud to be part of what can turn into a lifelong love of fitness and an appreciation of Michigan's natural wonders for kids and adults alike."

Participants can preregister for the event online at www.runsignup.com or drop off or mail their registration at any South Haven Schools office. Registration costs vary from $10-$30. For more information or to request a paper registration form, please contact Stacy Maxwell at Maxwellhouse@i2k.com or Lindsay Haqq at lhaqq@shps.org.

Van Buren State Park is located at 23960 Ruggles Road.

Inside Michigan’s Great Outdoors subscribers are always the first to know about reservation opportunities, state park events and other outdoor happenings. Visit www.michigan.gov/dnr to subscribe now.

A Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry to Van Buren State Park. 

A Recreation Passport grants vehicle access to any Michigan state park, boat launch, state forest campground or nonmotorized state trailhead parking. Residents can purchase the Passport for just $11 ($5 for motorcycles) at the time of Michigan license plate renewal through Secretary of State. Forgot to check “YES” during renewal? Residents and nonresidents can purchase a Recreation Passport window sticker during regular business hours at state parks. Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports state parks and local outdoor recreation opportunities at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

/Editors’ note: An accompanying photo is available below for download. A suggested caption follows.

Van Buren Trail.jpg: Van Buren State Park’s Step into Summer race will feature a diverse and scenic course through wooded trails, beside Lake Michigan and along sand dunes./

Van Buren Trail.JPG

 

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May 20, 2015
Contact: Tom Renner, tlrennersh@gmail.com

South Haven Performance Series Announces 2015 Concerts

The schedule of concerts for the 2015 South Haven Performance Series has been announced.

Founded in 2010, the South Haven Performance Series is an all-volunteer community based organization dedicated to providing a rich mixture of professional music for residents and visitors of South Haven, along with performance art education opportunities for youth thru free admission for students.

Performances are provided thanks to the generous support of the South Community Foundation, SHOUT for South Haven, corporate sponsors and individual donors. Admission for adults is $10.

The series will feature an eclectic collection of classical artists beginning Friday, June 26 with a performance by the Ann Arbor-based Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet. Named after renowned retired University of Michigan saxophone professor Donald Sinta, the quartet made its debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City this past fall. The group was the grand prize winner in the 2013 Coleman Chamber Music Competition and earned first prize in the 2013 CAG Victor Elmaleh Competition. Their diverse repertoire ranges from today’s emerging composers to standards from saxophone literature to transcriptions by master composers.

Returning to the Series by popular demand on Friday, July 31, will be internationally acclaimed pianist May Phang. She has been a prizewinner of several competitions including the Chopin Young Pianists' Competition in Buffalo, N.Y., the Canadian Music Competition, Concours d'orchestre symphonique de Montreal and Pontoise International Young Artists Competition in France. A Professor of Piano at DePauw University, Ms. Phang is also a teaching artist with Young Audiences of Indiana.

The summer sequence of concerts will conclude on Friday, Aug. 31, featuring the classical Merling Trio. The trio brings together musicians from Polish, Japanese, and Dutch backgrounds. The trio made its New York debut in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and was named a finalist for the Naumburg Foundation Chamber Music Award. The Trio members are on the faculty of  the School of Music at Western Michigan University. The Trio takes its name from the Danish violin maker, Paul Merling.

The summer concerts will be held at the First United Methodist Church of South Haven, 429 Michigan Ave. Each concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are sold at the door on the night of the concert.

The Series’ fifth season will conclude on Sunday, Nov. 15, with a concert by the Calvin College Alumni Choir in Listiak Auditorium of the South Haven High School beginning at 4 p.m. The choir’s members are alumni of Calvin College. Established in 1977, the choir promotes an awareness for choral music, both sacred and secular.

Further information about the Series can be found on the website -- http://southhavenperformanceseries.com/


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VAN BUREN COUNTY ROAD COMMISSION
NEWS RELEASE
BETTER HIGHWAYS: SAVE LIVES, SAVE TIME, SAVE MONEY
DATE: April 28, 2015
CONTACT: Lawrence B. Hummel, P.E. Engineer-Manager
Van Buren County Road Commission
Post Office Box 156
Lawrence, Michigan 49064
PHONE: 269.674.8011
RELEASE: Immediately 

Blue Star Highway Project Scheduled to Start May18th by Van Buren County Road Commission

THE COUNTY ROAD COMMISSION WANTS YOU TO KNOW . . .

Construction on Blue Star Highway from M-140 (BL I-196) to Phoenix Road (CR388) is scheduled to begin on May 18, 2015. Construction includes approximately 1.6 miles of asphalt surface paving, drainage corrections, curb repairs and new pavement markings. The prime contractor is Rieth-Riley Construction Company. The current schedule proposes work to be completed by June 30, 2015, with construction work to halt during the Memorial Day holiday.

The funds for this project were made available to the Van Buren County Road Commission through a grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation through Priority Road Improvement Program (PRIP) funds in the amount of $575,000. The Van Buren County Road Commission is responsible for additional project costs of approximately $87,000.

Van Buren County Road Commission officials state that construction will be accomplished without detouring traffic; however, motorists are urged to use an alternate route, if possible, as traffic may be temporarily delayed while specific work is being completed.

For any additional, or more specific information, the Road Commission urges you to call 269.674.8011, or to email for a reply message at vbcrc@vbcrc.org. Your patience is greatly appreciated for the safety of everyone!


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April 15, 2015

Contact:
Lisa Shanley, Executive Director
South Haven/Van Buren County CVB
lshanley@southhaven.org
(269) 637-5252

Our Lighthouse...Our Heritage

Historical Association of South Haven undertakes $300,000 capital campaign to preserve historic lighthouse 

 

The Historical Association of South Haven is pleased to announce that it plans to restore our town's 102 year-old, iconic lighthouse. 

The Association, which acquired the lighthouse in 2012 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has established a committee to oversee fundraising efforts to preserve the beacon that lures thousands of visitors to South Haven each year. 

During a ceremony marking the transfer of ownership, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan underscored the importance of preserving the South Haven lighthouse for future generations. 

"Michigan's lighthouses have long been an unmistakable marker of Michigan identity", Levin said. "Although they are no longer used as navigation tools, they are a testament to our state's maritime history and important sources of tourism.'

To ensure that South Haven's lighthouse can continue to be enjoyed by future generations, the Historical Association needs to raise $300,000 in the next year to restore the red beacon that marks the entrance to the town's harbor.

Work will include stabilizing the century-old structure, removing hazardous materials- including lead paint and asbestos, repairing and replacing the interior metal lathe/plaster walls, repairing extensive corrosion on the inside and outside of the lighthouse, replacing corrodes windows and putting a new coat of paint on the structure's interior and exterior walls.

The project will be costly because it must meet preservation guidelines set forth by the U.S. Secretary of Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

To date, the Historical Association has raised nearly $90,000- a quarter of the fundraising goal. Further fundraising efforts will include canvassing businesses and organizations for donations, a mail campaign to area residents and visitors, fundraisers in conjunction with local businesses and fundraising partnerships with a number of organizations, including the Michigan Maritime Museum. To celebrate National Lighthouse Day, the Historical Association will host a "Lighthouse Sit", on Aug 7, in which community and governmental leaders will take turns sitting atop the lighthouse to raise funds to restore the monument. 

As part of the year-long fundraising activities, the Historical Association also plans to present programs highlighting and educating people about the important role lighthouses have played over the years. Dianne Stampfler, a historian, will lead the program, "Ladies of the Light" on Aug. 4, at the historic light keeper’s house in South Haven. She will return on Oct. 30, 31 to present her popular program, "Haunted Lighthouses", at the Michigan Maritime Museum. 

 

To learn more about the lighthouse preservation campaign or to donate, visit www.southhavenlight.org

 

 

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 March 12, 2015

Waterfront Film Festival Announces Collaboration with ArtPrize in Grand Rapids in 2015,
and hopes to return to the Lakeshore in 2016.

    “It was announced today that the Waterfront Film Festival is going to partner with ArtPrize in Grand Rapids this year, which is a very unique and exciting collaboration for them. It is our understanding that they will not be holding the event in South Haven June 11-14, 2015 and according to an official Waterfront Film Festival press release, ‘will be focusing 100% on their new opportunity with Art Prize in Grand Rapids.’ We wish them the best of luck in 2015 and hope for their return to the lakeshore,” said Lisa Shanley, Executive Director of the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention & Visitors Bureau. 
 
    “The reality is that the community of South Haven and the South Haven Convention & Visitors Bureau really rolled out the red carpet to support and host this event the past two years, and our hope is that the festival will strongly consider that commitment as they plan for the future.” 
 
    As the official marketing arm for South Haven and Van Buren County, The Convention & Visitors Bureau allocates a tremendous amount of resources to promote this and other events that drive visitors to our destination. As many visitors plan vacations around these festivals and events, it is important that accurate information be disseminated to visitors so they can plan or adjust plans accordingly. 
    
    With the popularity of South Haven as a premiere, walkable waterfront destination, it just makes sense to align ourselves with festivals and events that capitalize on our relaxing, laid-back lakefront location. 
    


The South Haven/Van Buren Co. Convention & Visitors Bureau, a 501(c)(6) represents over 1000 lodging rooms and is the official destination marketing agency for Van Buren County and part of Allegan County.  Countywide, tourism spending exceeds 100 million dollars annually, represents over 1400 jobs and accounts for over two million visitors a year.

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August 13, 2014

PURE MICHIGAN RANKS SOUTH HAVEN VISITORS BUREAU IN TOP 12 MOST AMAZING INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS IN THE STATE!

South Haven, MI – The South Haven/Van Buren County Convention & Visitors Bureau has recently been recognized by Pure Michigan, the state’s tourism office, as having one of Michigan’s Top “Twelve Amazing Instagram Accounts That Will Make You Want To Visit Michigan Immediately!”

“At the state level and nationally, the trends in destination marketing are moving to a more digital, interactive platform,” says Lisa Shanley, Executive Director. “So much of the CVB’s efforts are focused on building relationships with visitors from all over the world, essentially. One of the ways we do that is to focus on social media.”

“Working closely with the state’s tourism office, we were fortunate to have the director of social media here for some staff training last year,” Shanley says. “From there CVB marketing assistant and staff photographer, Jamie Garvison, has done a great job ramping up our social media efforts.”

From the time the Instagram account, @southhavencvb, was launched in June of last year until now; the number of followers has increased to almost 1200. Also, the number of times visitor photos have been tagged with #southhavencvb has skyrocketed from 9320 to 33359.

In addition to Instagram, the CVB has an ongoing presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and has developed an e-newsletter that is very popular with visitors.

To connect with the CVB on social media, just log onto our home page at www.southhaven.org

 

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The South Haven/Van Buren Co. Convention & Visitors Bureau, a 501(c)(6) represents over 1000 lodging rooms and is the official destination marketing agency for Van Buren County and part of Allegan County.  Countywide, tourism spending exceeds 100 million dollars annually, represents over 1400 jobs and accounts for over two million visitors a year.

 

SOUTH HAVEN VISITORS BUREAU LAUNCHES PURE MICHIGAN CAMPAIGN

South Haven, MI – The South Haven/Van Buren County Convention & Visitors Bureau is launching a $160,000 Pure Michigan ad campaign today in the markets of Cincinnati, Ohio, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and Lansing.  Michigan native Tim Allen narrates the 60- second radio spot that feature references to walking on beautiful beaches, biking on timeless trails and shopping at weekly farmer’s markets. The new radio ad entitled, “A Good Book” was created by McCann Advertising of Detroit and concludes with the line, “. . . So let’s dive into the story of South Haven where the next chapter in summer memories is Pure Michigan.”

“For South Haven it is a natural fit to be a part of the enormously successful Pure Michigan campaign,” says Lisa Shanley, Executive Director. “So much of what is promoted in the Pure Michigan campaign is right in our own back yard. From beautiful beaches to and award-winning wineries, from championship golf courses to fabulous farmer’s markets; we have it have it all!”

The South Haven Pure Michigan ad will be launched at the South Haven CVB’s Annual Dinner and Tourism Awards scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. tonight at the South Haven Yacht Club.

In addition to the official launch of the campaign, there will be a number of legislative and tourism awards presented, including South Haven area Restaurant, Retailer and Attraction of the Year. 
 

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April 15, 2014
 

Kick start Spring at the SHCA with

Impressions of South Haven & Local Treasure?

What better way to start Spring than enjoying a variety of views of South Haven. The South Haven Center for the Arts will open the 64th Annual Members’ Show on April 25 with a reception from 5-7 p.m. Then the fun keeps rolling on Saturday with Local Treasure?, South Haven’s version of Antiques Roadshow.

The exhibition will feature approximately 50 works by more than various members of the SHCA with the theme of Impressions of South Haven. The exhibition will look beyond the general commercial images of South Haven that we see every day and show beloved, personal views of South Haven by many of its longtime members.

“The exhibition reminds us how beautiful our environs are throughout the seasons as well as how fortunate we all are to have so many talented artists living among us,” said Thea Grigsby, Executive Director at the South Haven Center for the Arts. “It’s sure to put a smile on your face.”

Impressions of South Haven also segues well into our summer exhibition, From Coloma to Covert, the striking imagery of the important photographer Barbara Crane, who grew up in this area.

The SHCA will be hosting Local Treasures? upstairs on Saturday, April 26, from 1-4 p.m. Local Treasures? is styled after the television program “Antiques Roadshow,” with South Haven Center for the Arts inviting attendees to bring antiques, heirlooms and curiosities to be reviewed by a team of local experts.

Expected to be on-hand are furniture, art, and weaponry specialists, local restoration professionals and an expert in Dutch Art. Bring in that painting or knickknack you’ve been wondering about!

If you want to know about a piece of furniture, bring a picture and a drawer (if it has one). Review sessions with experts will cost $10 per item, with the second at $5 for members.

The South Haven Center for the Arts is free and open to the public! For hours or more information, call 637-1041 or visit southhavenarts.org. 
 

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April 1, 2014
Contact:  Kathy Sicard at 269.637.7405


National Day of Prayer - Thursday, May 1, 2014


Thursday, May 1, 2014 marks the 63rd Annual National Day of Prayer and will be celebrated locally at Dyckman Park, Phoenix Street, across from South Haven City Hall, from 12:20pm to 12:45pm.  This year’s theme is “One Voice United in Prayer” and is taken from Romans 15:6 “so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

All citizens of South Haven and its surrounding areas are welcome to gather and offer prayers for our government, country, military, youth, family, media, churches and businesses.  Local clergy, schools and public officials are involved in the program.  In the event of rain, the program will be moved into the City Hall Chambers.

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation.  It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the Untied States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.  For more information, please call Kathy Sicard at 637-7405 or visit www.nationaldayofprayer.org.

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February 19, 2014
West Michigan Environmental Action Council
Grand Valley State University 
Williams and Works 
info@westmichiganwatertrail.com
www.westmichiganwatertrail.com

West Michigan Water Trail Public Meeting

West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Grand Valley State University and Williams and Works are collecting input for a Lake Michigan Water Trail connecting Benton Harbor to Ludington. The year-long project will build on existing community relationships in Lake Michigan coastal communities and engage the public in conversations about the economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the initiative. Community involvement will be made possible through a series of community meetings in the seven primary coastal population centers (St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, South Haven, Saugatuck/Douglas, Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon, Pentwater/Ludington). The West Michigan Water Trail is an historic effort to catalyze the various governmental, economic and cultural institutions that benefit from our globally unique freshwater coastline. By developing the water trail, and with the education and documentation of this vast resource inherent to the process, the partners hope to create an undivided voice for investment in, and protection of, this ecological, cultural, and historical resource for future generations. The project will actively engage West Michigan coastal communities and students while documenting the revenue generation potential of the water trail, culminating in detailed implementation plans for the development and marketing of the West Michigan leg of the Lake Michigan Water Trail, tentatively called the West Michigan Water Trail. Of particular interest within the initiative are cultural and historic maritime resources such as lighthouses, shipwrecks and other Great Lakes maritime heritage features which contribute to the tourism potential of the region. The West Michigan Water Trail initiative is made possible through support from the Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program, Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce. Learn more at westmichiganwatertrail.com
What is a Water Trail?
Water trails are designated routes on navigable waterways such as rivers, lakes, and canals that are designed and implemented to foster an interactive historical education experience. These are intended for recreation involving non-motorized watercraft such as kayaks, canoes, paddleboats, windsurfing, kitesurfing and surfing. There are existing trails at various locations on the Great Lakes, as well as on inland waterways in Michigan and neighboring states. Some of these are well established, such as the section of Lake Michigan near Sleeping Bear Dunes in Northwest Michigan and the Pictured Rocks area of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula. The West Michigan Water Trail initiative is complementary to a series of similar DEQ-funded projects occurring along the length of the Lake Michigan shoreline this year where Regional Planning Organizations are documenting inland and lakeshore assets and recommending potential enhancements to local governments for the Lake Michigan Water Trail. For instance, the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission is surveying potential Lake Michigan access points and amenities on inland lakes and streams throughout Muskegon, Oceana, Mason and northern Ottawa counties. To learn more about water trails and the Lake Michigan Water Trail initiative:
Michigan Water Trails: michiganwatertrails.org
Lake Michigan Water Trail Association: lmwt.org
Michigan Heritage Water Trails: wmich.edu/glcms/watertrails
West Michigan Water Trail Objectives
• Comprehensive plans for local and regional coastal trails, including research, surveys, and mapping to
support the planning process.
• Assessments of existing water trails to identify and analyze gaps, identify best practices, and recommend
improvements.
• Assessments of best practices in the promotion of coastal water trail recreation with the objective of
developing and/or enhancing existing websites and other prioritized media that promotes coastal trail
recreation opportunities.
West Michigan Water Trail Strategies
• Promote stewardship of coastal resources.
• Interpret cultural and historic maritime resources such as lighthouses, shipwrecks and other Great
Lakes maritime heritage features.
• Conduct educational and outreach activities to improve public understanding and stewardship of
coastal water trail access to the Great Lakes and connecting waters and its importance to communities
and the economy.
• Conduct training events to provide coastal decision-makers with knowledge and tools to comprehensively

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February 3, 2014
Blue Coast Artists
Dawn Soltysiak
269.236.9260
fernwood1891@gmail.com

Blue Coast Artists Celebrating 25 Years in 2014!

Along the southwest shoreline of Lake Michigan, between South Haven and Saugatuck, US Route 31 meanders through a pastoral scene of small towns and farms.  Each autumn, for the past twenty-five years, tourists from nearby cities and towns take to the highway for the annual Blue Coast Artists’ Fall Tour of Studios.  Founded in 1989 by three local artists, the association is dedicated to the preservation of the culture and heritage of the region, through the enhancement of public appreciation of hand made craft and fine art.   Over the years, the Blue Coast Artists have worked independently and together to create arts and crafts and to provide a forum for education in the arts for the local population.  In the process, they have emerged as a resource for the community in promoting local tourism through a virtual grass-roots effort that stands as a model for integrating the arts into the public economy and culture.

In the late 1980s, three artists happened to schedule weekend open houses at their studios on the same weekend.  As visitors perused the ceramic pots, paintings, and jewelry at the studio shops, the artists overheard chatter about visits to the other studios.  Impressed with the turnouts, the artists realized the value of a cooperative effort in bringing people to their studios.  The next year, the studio tour was born.  Within a few years, the group grew to include more artists and coined the name, Blue Coast Artists.  The tour has remained the primary joint venture of the member studios, and draws over 2,000 visitors to the area over the two-day event each year.  

Potter Dawn Soltysiak, owner of Khnemu Studio, has been a member of the organization for twelve years and is actively involved in the group’s activities.  “One thing I have come to realize as an artist,” she explains, “is that people can’t fully respect and appreciate your work unless they can see what is involved in making it.  They need to see it in the context of a whole lifestyle.”  The Blue Coast Artists’ efforts in bringing people to the area are aimed at reinforcing this concept.  Although the Fall Tour is the pinnacle of the group’s efforts, the summer tourist season is filled with opportunities for urban dwellers to explore the slower pace of a life devoted to craftsmanship in a rural setting.  In recent years, the group has expanded to include a cooperative of local farms and businesses.  Each spring, they publish a brochure for the region that highlights the member artists and the affiliated farms and businesses, detailing studio hours and locations.  The region claims over 85 B&Bs, where the Blue Coast Artists brochures are displayed.  Soltysiak says that local businesses support the group’s efforts and appreciate their involvement in the local Chamber of Commerce and Tourism office.  The recent trend toward interest in organic lifestyles, community supported agriculture, and conservation has opened a window for tourism opportunities.  Blue Coast Artists recently joined forces with the Lakeshore Harvest County Farm Tour, promoting a complete survey of the area’s offerings.  Whether for a day trip or a weekend get-away, the area offers many options for exploration.

Today, Blue Coast Artists functions as a limited licensed corporation.  As the group grew, criteria for membership were established and the jury system was set up.  Geographic boundaries were agreed upon.  Membership in the group varies by year, with applications exceeding available spots.  New members are selected through a juried process.  Annual dues support the costs of advertising, both for the spring brochure and for the fall tour promotion. Members agree to minimum business hours during the summer tourist season.  The artists share a lifestyle in which the annual cycle begins with solitary creative work in the cold months, building inventory.  As the days grow longer after the winter solstice, attention turns to planning for the upcoming tourist season.  Members review applications from potential new artists and begin work on the spring brochure that serves as a driving guide for visitors to the area.  The first weekend in May marks the opening of the season when each member’s studio is open for business.  The artists continue their creative labors, welcoming visitors into their studios to observe.  

During the summer, brochures for the Fall Tour of Studios are distributed locally and through the mail.  Generally held the first weekend of October, the tour marks the culmination of the season’s work for the artists.  Many plan special events for that weekend, such as demonstrations and workshops.  In 2013, Blue Coast artist Jeff Blandford of Volmod Studio showed off his work made from clay discovered in his own backyard.  Potter Mark Williams, one of the original founders of Blue Coast, demonstrated his salt kiln, with a kiln opening scheduled for each day.  Rural hospitality thrives, with many studios serving snacks and local specialties to visitors.  Soltysiak’s Khnemu Studio enhanced tours of its solar-powered kilns, with Raku firing demonstrations, a locally grown pumpkin sale, and samples of farm-grown popcorn.

The upcoming 2014 season at Blue Coast Artists features twelve studio artists, working in a variety of media.  Ceramic artists include Solstysiak, Blanford, and Williams, along with Lee McKee from Lake Effect Pottery, Sandra Schneider from Reverie Design & Craft, and Ellie Dietrich from Aspen Glenn Studio.  Visual artists Suzie Lattner Zwissler and Anker Richert-Korioth paint in pastels and acrylics at their studios, Lattner Studio and The Frontdoor Studio and Gallery, respectively.  The group includes two jewelry artists: silversmith Christine Russell Bruno, of Town Hall Studio, and jewelry maker Michelle Clark, who also builds custom furniture at her Brazilian Shack.  Wood and glass artist Barb Hogarth, of Blue Star Studio, works in glass and wood.  Metal artist Terry Thomas rounds out the group at his studio, Whispering Pines.  Thomas also runs an Arabian Horse Farm, which features several gates that he fabricated.

Blue Coast Artists’ success in providing an informative and pleasant experience for tourists is only part of the group’s influence.  Many of the studios offer classes and workshops for the local community.  Many residents of the county utilize the tour map to discover new treasures in their own backyards that they did not know existed.  The area itself has come to be known as “the Blue Coast,” taking its lead from the artists.  The wider community has transformed, taking on a new character, a character defined by its people’s connection to the arts.  Each of the member studios is a place where the artist incorporates his or her work into a complete lifestyle that is marked by living in harmony with the geography of the region and utilizing the resources of that geography.  The affiliated farms from the Lakeshore Harvest Country agri-tourism tour likewise support this ethos.  The story of the Blue Coast Artists is a story of a small group of artists simply looking to sell their pots, who evolved into a powerful cultural and economic force that stands as evidence of the power of art to transform human lives.
 

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Waterfront Film Festival Press Advisory Oct. 23, 2013
waterfrontfilm.org
ph. 269.767.8765
PO Box 904
South Haven, MI
49090
Contact: Patrick Revere
reverewriter@gmail.com
(616) 308-7573


Waterfront Film Festival lured back to South Haven
16th annual independent film festival to be held June 12-15


South Haven, Michigan, Oct. 23, 2013 – Following an outpouring of community support and a successful inaugural year in South Haven, Waterfront Film Festival organizers are announcing the Festival will return in 2014 to the beachfront town for a 16th year of independent film on the waterfront.
Nearly 90 documentaries, dramas, comedies and film shorts showed on seven screens throughout the four days in South Haven. A record number of filmmakers were in town to talk about their films before and after the screenings, and many actors and filmmakers participated on Q&A panels.
Festival organizers have been approached by many new sponsors and volunteers who are committed to helping with Waterfront Film Festival’s second year in South Haven.
“Through a partnership of financial donors, the City government, the South Haven Center for the Arts, CVB and Chamber, Waterfront Film Festival will expand to be bigger and better in 2014,” festival Co-founder Hopwood DePree said.
A local philanthropist stepped forward with a significant financial commitment to underwrite the hiring of a Director of Development who will focus on fundraising and handle day-to-day, year-round operations of putting the festival together.
“This has been one of our goals since the beginning. It is wonderful to finally be at this point. Having a full-time staff member dedicated to development is a crucial step in taking the Waterfront Film Festival to new heights and to achieve long-term success for the non-profit organization,” DePree said.
Organizers say the long-term goal for the festival’s growth is to encompass more of the West Michigan region, eventually hosting screenings up and down the lakeshore.
Waterfront Film Festival Co-founder Dori DePree commended the South Haven community for its enthusiastic response to the festival and continued support.
“We are thrilled with the support of the residents, city officials and the mayor,” she said. “Mayor Bob Burr was instrumental in bringing the festival to South Haven, and his enthusiasm to inject more art into the community is inspiring.”
Film submissions for the 2014 festival will be accepted beginning Nov. 1.
Visit www.waterfrontfilm.org for more information on film submission guidelines, the job posting, and how to become a sponsor or volunteer for 2014.
About Waterfront Film Festival Now in its 16th year, Waterfront Film Festival celebrates independent film and filmmakers in a non-competitive environment. Located along the Michigan lakeshore, WFF is one of the leading destination film festivals in the Midwest, regularly hosting Midwest premieres of Academy Award-winning and nominated documentaries. Recognized as a top five film festival, WFF is a non-profit event committed to creating a “middle coast” venue for independent filmmakers while further enhancing the cultural draw of West Michigan. For more information on the coming festival June 12-15 in South Haven, Mich., visit www.waterfrontfilm.org, “like” us on Facebook at facebook.com/WaterfrontFilm and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/#!/WaterfrontFilm.

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June 18, 2013

 

Laura’s Little Burger Joint in Decatur, Michigan Named Michigan’s Best Burger!

 

South Haven, MI – After six days of traveling 1,700 miles and visiting 33 restaurants, John “Gonzo” Gonzalez, statewide reporter for MLive Media, revealed Michigan's Top Burger Winner. Drum roll please! The winner of the Best Burger in Michigan is . . . Laura’s Little Burger Joint in little Decatur in Van Buren County, Michigan.

Lisa Shanley, executive director of the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention & Visitors Bureau Director, first nominated Little Burger Joint as a serious “Best Burger in Michigan” contender when she met with “Gonzo” earlier this year.

“Little Burger Joint owner, Laura Green was so excited when I called to deliver the news and congratulate her this morning,” Shanley said that she was nearly speechless.  

 “I don’t even know what to say . . . This is awesome . . . I can’t believe it!” Laura’s brief remarks said it all.

“With such heated competition from all around the state,” Shanley said. “This award is a big deal. It represents so much more than a cool little burger place winning an award. As exciting as that is, it also shows that Van Buren County and small businesses in towns the size of Decatur, Michigan population: 2188 can compete and win as a top travel destination.”

According to Shanley, CVB Director since 2006, “There’s a trend toward travelers returning to nostalgic places, and Laura’s Little Burger Joint is just that. A place that you went to as a kid and now you want to go back to share it with your own children and grandchildren. That’s about as Pure Michigan as it gets!” 

For more information about Laura’s Little Burger Joint, call (269) 423-9300. They are open April through November. Hours are Monday & Tuesday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday – closed, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Find them on Facebook at facebook.com/LaurasBurgers 

                

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June 17, 2013                                                   

 

HARBORFEST CELEBRATION IN SOUTH HAVEN THIS WEEKEND!

South Haven, MI— Summer in South Haven is not the same without HarborFest, an annual event that will take place June 20th-23rd this year.  Celebrating South Haven’s maritime heritage, the marinas, and the beautiful award-winning harbor are what makes this festival along the Black River and Riverfront Park so special.

HarborFest kicks off with opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. Thursday. On Friday, there is a full schedule of fun! Enjoy outdoor concerts along the river, a craft fair, food tents, a Beer Garden, vessel salute, harbor walk tour, and kids’ activities galore!  American Idol Finalist Matt Giraud will take the stage Friday night and Bill Branch & the Sons of Blues will entertain crowds on Saturday night. One of the main attractions is the ancient sport of dragon boat racing beginning on Saturday with race finals on Sunday.  A pancake breakfast will be served both weekend mornings.

The focus of the festival is to celebrate the many outstanding attractions and features the harbor offers visitors and residents alike.

The Harborfest committee was formed in 1991 and is comprised of a volunteer staff.  The non-profit’s mission is “to organize a continuing annual festival and extend the summer season.”

For more information, contact the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau at 1-800-SO-HAVEN or check out our website at www.southhaven.org
 

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The National Blueberry Festival Celebrates 50 Years!

South Haven, MI – June 14, 2013 – This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the National Blueberry Festival in South Haven, MI. The festival runs from August 8-11, and brings in approximately 80,000 visitors annually.