As of this writing two Michigan cosplay events are winding to a close, JAFAX (Japanese Animation, Film, and Art Expo) and the Mid Michigan Renaissance Faire. This weekends theme at the Mid Michigan Renaissance Faire is “When Worlds Collide” with Steampunk and Cosplay mixed in with the typical renaissance fare and Tardis too! For $10 you can catch the music, food, cosplay chaos, and fantasy fun at the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival’s Enchanted Forest 7464 Frankenmuth Rd, Vassar, Michigan 48768 until 7 p.m. tonight!
The JAFAX 2.0 reboot is the reincarnation of the long standing Anime event that was held at Grand Valley State University over the past couple decades. The event has now graduated from the university with a degree in cosplay and has moved into the DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids. According to the website to shorten the lines they have reopened the online preregistration so you can get through the line faster. Thanks to the short lines it took less than 10 minutes to get a badge for the Weird Review’s attending press photographer, Aaron Robins. Over the weekend furry folk from the Great Lakes Fur Con invaded JAFAX and later Saturday evening went out for bowling and pizza at Spectrum Lanes. So for $25 you can go enjoy their panels and cosplay until 6 p.m. this evening.
Also in Grand Rapids over the weekend was the Sound of the City GR 2016, the launch event for the Radi8er music app. The sound of the City included local bands like Full Cat Astrophe, Lady Ace Boogie, and Lipstick Jodi. These and other bands were at the Harris Building in downtown Grand Rapids to celebrate the release of the app that plans to change the way you listen to music online and on your phone by opening your ears to new Indie Artists and let you hear what others are listening to on their earbuds around you and around the country.
Next weekend is the three day, 4th of July weekend and there will be events going on from coast to coast. Be careful with the fireworks folks! The weekend of July 9, 2016 the Summer fun will really start to heat up with the first weekend of the Blackrock Renaissance Festival at the Olde World Village in Augusta, Michigan and the Anime Midwest con in Rosemont, Illinois.
The Blackrock Renaissance Festival will have sword fights, jousting, music, acrobats, juggling, Pirates and Wenches, The Bluebeard, comedy, and belly dancing, on 5 stages and artists, exhibitors and food vendors in over 70 booths!
Anime Midwest is bringing anime and steampunk stars from across the country with New York’s Frenchy and the Punk, Philadelphia (via Phoenix!) Mega Ran and San Diego’s Steam Powered Giraffe headlining the weekends music performances. The dynamic duet, Frenchy and the Punk, wander the world with their fairy, folk, rock, fusion of steampunk funk and fun. Mega Ran is a world touring performer, educator, and videogame fanatic who is best known for his Mega Man video game tribute music that caught the attention of Capcom that made him one of the top stars of Nerdcore and Chip-Hop music. Steam Powered Giraffe is a vaudeville style band who perform their music in metallic makeup as steam powered robots that periodically break down in the middle of their performances. Anime video game voice actors such as Chuck Huber, DC Douglas, and Greg Ayres will be signing autographs, running panels, and, if folks are lucky, Greg will don the headphones and DJ at one of the dances. For Steampunk, Lolita and other fun fashions, Kinki Kitty, Victorian Angel and MossBadger will be be there to show their wares at the fashion show and other cosplay events. Over the weekend there will also be multiple raves, the Formal Fantasy Cosplay Ball, the infamous Dante’s Fabulous Date Auction, the Masquerade, Maid Café, video game and padded weapon competitions, and, of course, the awesome Samurai Dan and Jillian!
The same folks who put on Anime Midwest will wander across the state and pop up across the following weekend for a bit scaled down version of their event called Anime Zing! in the beautiful River Center in Davenport, Iowa. Scaled down doesn’t mean you will have time to be bored, but Davenport is a kinder, gentler place than the greater Chicago area and for those new to Anime Cons it is a great place to meet some top voice actors like Full Metal Alchemist’s Vic Mignogna. They will also have plenty of other guests, panels, dances, Dante’s Date Auction, and Samurai Dan and Jillian.
For more Steampunk fun catch the Motor City Steam Con July 22 – 24, 2016 in the Holiday Inn Livonia Hotel. Don’t let the Formal Teas and Beard and Mustache contests fool you. The Motor City Steam Con is an action packed weekend of music and mirth featuring performances by Frenchy and the Punk, Automaton, DJ Vourteque, Eli August, the Gabriel Brass Band, Tom Smith, Ague, Arlow Xan, and The Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle. After dark the teas tend to become diluted with other liquids and liquors and the events take a decidedly twisted turn. For those 21+, the Moonlight Caberet will have magic, music, comedy and burlesque.
For more geeky fun make sure to set some time and money aside for the best four days of gaming at GenCon in Indianapolis August 4-7 and comics and celebrity action at Wizard World Chicago August 18-21.
Michigan has a lot to offer residents and visitors to step outside of their normal routine and escape into some fantasy fun. This weekend you can step back in time and enter two realms of fantasy at The Olde World Village in Augusta, Michigan (13215 M-96, Augusta, MI, just north of I-94 between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek) and the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival in Vassar, Michigan (west of I-75 at 7464 Frankenmuth Rd.)
The Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival started last weekend and will continue on Saturdays and Sundays through June 26, 2016 with music, fun food, and fairytail fun. This weekend’s theme is “Pillage the Village” with Vikings and Pirates. In addition to their regular crew of pirates, Vikings, and scalawags, special guests include The Crew of the Pirate Ship Crysta, the Dread Pirate Roberts, The World of Swimming Mermaid School and Andromina The Mermaid.
At the Olde World Village they are having their Steam Dream Expo, Michigan’s longest running Steampunk Convention, this weekend. For those who are unaware, Steampunk is the science fiction genre of the 1800’s, the era of steam engines, dirigibles, clockwork contraptions, with dapperly dressed, dashing gents and gorgeous gals in corsets and other Victorian era finery.
The Olde World Village is decked out for the steampunk crowd which includes an invasion from Lansing’s Capitol Steam, Performances by Eli August and the Abandoned buildings, Bell, Book and Canto, and many others. DJ Vourteque will slinging the steamy tunes when he isn’t doing his duties as MC. If you enjoy things a bit more on the steamy side, make sure you get the VIP pass and hit the more adult orient and after dark events that will go through 10 p.m. and beyond. For a few free samples, check out some past performances from the Olde World Village.
After this weekend the Olde World Village takes a couple weeks off to retool and then returns on July 9th for the BlackRock Medieval Fest and other events through the December so you may want save their event schedule.
Next weekend, in addition to week three of the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival, an old favorite is being resurrected in Grand Rapids, Michigan as JAFAX 2.0 (Japanese Animation, Film, and Art Expo) at the Amway Grand and DeVos Place Conference Center. Anime and Cosplay fans will be hitting downtown Grand Rapids and enjoying the riverfront ambiance.
For those of a more historical bent, check out Michigan’s Civil War Musters where the Living History reenactors will don more traditional Civil War era wardrobe, roll in the canons, powder up the rifles, mount their steeds and maybe even cut loose later at the Emerald Pheasant. Hastings’ Charlton Park hosts their muster over the weekend of July 16-17. If you have never been to Charlton Park, you are in for a treat as they moved historic buildings to the park instead of tearing them down and it is a beautiful piece of history. Add the canons, costumes and live action history and you will be blown away! Down in Jackson the Jackson Civil War Muster happens on the weekend of August 20-21 and you can expect more guns, canons, horses and soldiers.
With Spring comes the return of song birds, flowers blooming and the budding of the fruit trees. For many, Spring also brings the budding of romance and for those further along, the planning of weddings. After hearing about the Crater of Diamonds State Park it seemed worth checking out as a potential place to take your beloved and even to propose. Imagine digging up a diamond and then dropping on your knee and proposing it be used in your engagement ring.
The Crater of Diamonds State Park is just outside of Murfreesboro, Arkansas and is run by the Arkansas State Park Service. Visitors can play in the water park, visit the Diamond Discovery Center, mine for diamonds, have lunch at the Kimberlite Cafe, and enjoy the parks free while camping there.
For those expecting to delve into the depths along with seven dwarves singing, “Hi Ho!”, you will be sorely disappointed. Diamond mining at the Crater Lakes Diamond Mine is great for those with claustrophobia as it is an open field of dirt. You dig in the dirt, shake it through screens, run it through water, or sift through it however you want as long as you don’t use devices that are battery or motor operated.
While many do find diamonds and other gemstones in the park, the average is less than two diamonds found per day. So after spending a few, fun hours digging, raking, shaking, and squinting in the sunlight looking for diamonds it is important to note that the gift shop also has very pretty, diamond-shaped glass that you can stick in your pocket should the search prove unrewarded with a diamond worthy of your beloved. Perhaps pulling one of them out of your pocket before dropping to your knee? Telling her, “I was hoping to find a real diamond but my love for you is real. You are far more valuable to me than any gem could ever be. Will you marry me?” might just do the trick.
For some added fun, grab some historical or steampunk garb and gear and have a photoshoot! The park is open throughout the year with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years day but check their site as the hours vary by the season.