Page 1

July/August 2019

MICHIGAN

COUNTRY LINES Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association

Welcome To Our New Line Superintendent

Annual Meeting Highlights Superior Culture On Lake Superior

Tip Toe Through


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WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc. Š2019 WaterFurnace International Inc.


In This Issue July/August 2019 || Vol. 39, No. 7

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

michigancountrylines

FEATURED PHOTO FROM

#micoopcommunity

countrylines.com

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Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr Copy Editor: Heidi Spencer

Follow Us On Instagram!

Design and Production: Karreen Bird Recipe Editor: Christin McKamey Publisher: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. POSTMASTER: SEND ALL UAA TO CFS. Association officers are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Mark Kappler, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer. Craig Borr is president and CEO. CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com countrylines.com

CHANGE OF ADDRESS:

Please notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

The appearance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised.

Come share in the splendor of rural Michigan with us

michigancountrylines This capture of a wave breaking in Lake Huron is the most brilliant @lensball capture we've ever seen. #gorgeous :@chase_gagnon

ON THE COVER The Tulip Time Festival is dedicated to honoring Holland, Michigan’s Dutch heritage, showcasing millions of tulips and celebrating the community today. This experience is so much more than tulips. With national and local entertainment, world-renowned Dutch dancers, artisan markets, fireworks, breathtaking sights just off the shores of Lake Michigan and some of the largest parades in Michigan, Tulip Time is truly an experience you don’t want to miss. Photography by Tyler Leipprandt

6 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Guest Column Exploring The Frankfort Scene Christal Frost, Media Personality

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Festive Desserts To Celebrate Summer

@michigancountrylines

18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Guest Column

The Turtle Race Tradition Jean Alexander, Great Lakes Energy member

Win $150 for stories published! Guest Column: Country Lines invites members to submit their fond memories and stories. For guidelines and to submit your guest column go to countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab.

Christin McKamey & Our Readers

Enjoy a taste of the Old Country! This Dutch favorite recipe, Stamppot van Boerenkool: Curly Kale and Sausages, is shared with Tulip Time visitors from around the world.  Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

14 FEATURE Tip Toe Through The Tulips Emily Haines Lloyd

Best of Michigan CRAFT BEER: Give us your personal craft beer favorite. We will publish this member– recommended list in our September issue. Submit your favorites at countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab by July 20.

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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KEWEENAW

With Your Help, Everyone Stays Safe

HOUGHTON

ONTONAGON BARAGA

500 J.K. Paul Street Ontonagon, MI 49953

906-884-4151 800-562-7128 ontonagon.coop After hours: 866-639-6098 OFFICERS & DIRECTORS Calvin Koski, President Aura District 906-524-6988 cgkoski@up.net

George Rajala, Vice-President Chassell/Keweenaw Bay District 906-370-0416 rajgeo50@yahoo.com James Moore, Director, Secretary/Treasurer Boston District 906-482-0465 district6.keweenaw@gmail.com Wayne Heikkinen, Director Pelkie/Herman/Aura District 906-353-6496 mustipuppy@gmail.com Paul Koski, Director Ewen/Trout Creek/Lake Mine District 906-988-2593 pkoski@jamadots.com Frances Wiideman, Director Green/Firesteel/Toivola District 906-288-3203 fwiideman@alphacomm.net William Hodges, Director Lake Linden District 906-934-3743 mistermich52@gmail.com

PERSONNEL

Debbie Miles, General Manager Fay Hauswirth, Billing Clerk Mark Urbis, Line Superintendent

OTHER INFORMATION

Date of Incorporation: Sept. 30, 1937 Fiscal year-end: Dec. 31 countrylines.com/coops/ontonagon Ontonagon County REA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Join us on Facebook. facebook.com/OntonagonCountyREA

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Debbie Miles, General Manager

orking with electricity can be a dangerous job, especially for lineworkers. In fact, USA Today lists line repairers and installers among the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. That’s why for Ontonagon REA, safety is the number one priority. Over time, we have created a culture of putting our crews’ safety and that of the community above all else. Our mission is to provide safe, reliable, and affordable energy to you, our consumer-members. Yes, we strive to deliver affordable and reliable electricity to you, but equally important, we want our employees to return home safely to their loved ones. This requires ongoing focus, dedication, vigilance—and your help!

Distractions can be deadly. While we appreciate your kindness and interest in the work of our crews, we ask that you stay back and let them focus on their task at hand. Even routine work has the potential to be dangerous, and it takes their full attention and that of their colleagues—who are also responsible for the team’s safety. Distractions can have deadly consequences. If a lineworker is on or near your property during a power outage, for vegetation management or routine maintenance, please allow them ample room to work. These small accommodations help protect our crews and you. If you have a dog, try to keep it indoors while lineworkers are on or near your property. While most dogs are friendly, some are defensive of their territory and can’t distinguish between a burglar and a utility worker. Our crews work best without a pet “supervising” the job. We recognize that for your family’s safety, you want to make sure only authorized workers are on or near your property. You will recognize Ontonagon REA lineworkers by the service trucks with our name and logo on them. You may also recognize our lineworkers because they live right here in our local community.

Slow down and move over. In addition to giving lineworkers some space while they are near your property, we also ask that you move over or slow down when approaching a utility vehicle on the side of the road. This is an extra barrier of safety to help those who help all of us. Please help Ontonagon REA to keep its lineworkers safe during this busy summer season by doing your part. Together we can make a difference. 


Co-op Welcomes Mark Urbis

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ntonagon REA welcomes new Line Superintendent Mark Urbis. Mark, who was born and raised in Ontonagon County, began working for the co-op in April. He took over the reins from Bill Tucker, who retired after six years of service. After attending line school at Gogebic Community College, Mark worked in the pipeline industry for nine years, traveling to different job locations throughout the United States. He then worked for Asplundh Tree as a foreman for 13 years before taking the job with the co-op. The extensive travel for his job, and looking for a career that was closer to home, were what prompted him to apply for the line superintendent position. When asked how he likes the job so far, he quickly responded, “I love my job! Everyone in the office is helping me along and the linemen have been great. It’s easy working with such wonderful people.”

HOLIDAY OFFICE CLOSING Mark, his wife Holly and sons Gatlin (8), and Caymin (4).

When not at work, Mark, a typical Yooper, enjoys being outdoors. “We spend a lot of time camping with family and friends. I have a camp in the Ewen area which I own with five other friends, so I go there for deer season and a couple of times during the summer.” Please join us in welcoming Mark Urbis to the Ontonagon REA team.

Cooperative offices will be closed on Monday, September 2, in observance of Labor Day. Payments may be made at the drop box and will be posted on the next open business day. From our family to yours, enjoy the holidays!

PAY Your WAY

Ontonagon County REA provides several convenient methods for you to pay your electric bill. Pay Online, With A Mobile Device Or By Telephone • Pay online, at our self-service site ontonagon.coop. • Select the SmartHub logo from our home page then select “New User,” then “Sign Up”. • Enter a billing account number, last name or business name and email address. • Select Submit and follow remaining prompts. • To pay using your mobile device, download “SmartHub” on the App Store© or Google Play Marketplace. • To pay by phone, call 906-884-4151. Please have your bill available so you can provide your account number.

Automatic Payment Payments can also be made by automatic withdrawal from your checking, savings, debit or credit account. To use this method, call our office at 906-884-4151.

Pay By Mail Checks and money orders can be sent to: Ontonagon County REA, 500 J.K. Paul St., Ontonagon, MI 49953 Please include the top stub of the bill to assure that your account is properly credited. Please do not send cash.

Pay In Person During normal business hours, members can make payments at our office, located at 500 J.K. Paul St., Ontonagon, MI 49953 After business hours, payments can be dropped off in the night deposit box located at our office outside of the main entrance. Please do not deposit cash into the night deposit box.

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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GUEST COLUMN

MI CO-OP Community

Road pin’ Trip With Christal Frost

THE BEST OF FRANKFORT

E

very time I travel back to my Benzie County roots, I marvel at how everything feels both exactly the same and somehow very different. I graduated from Benzie Central High School 21 years ago and as I drive through the hilly terrain toward Frankfort, I can’t shake the notion that, although the route hasn’t changed, everything along the way seems to have grown up—including me. Downtown Frankfort is just waking up as I make my first stop at Crescent Bakery for a welcomed cup of coffee, delicious breakfast panini and the bakery’s world-famous fritters. Fueled by caffeine and sugar, it’s time to journey to Frankfort’s pride and joy, the Point Betsie Lighthouse. With views of the Manitou Passage, the Point Betsie Lighthouse is rumored to be the most photographed lighthouse of all time. The views are unparalleled, and it still stands today as a beacon of beauty and direction. Although Point Betsie still functions as a navigation aid, the majestic lighthouse also regularly hosts museum tours and weddings. Curious visitors can even rent the Keeper’s Quarters— available from late May through October. No visit to Frankfort is complete without a stop at Crystal Gardens. Crystal Gardens has been the source for gardening supplies for more than 40 years. However, Crystal Gardens has evolved to give visitors more of an experience, including a rock shop filled with unique gifts made with Petoskey stones and geodes, the Barn Swallow antique store—and even the Nature Exhibit which boasts peacocks, butterflies, a fairy garden and a gigantic stone turtle. My absolute favorite at the Gardens, though, is an entire greenhouse, called Mom’s House, which is fully dedicated to the hardy geranium.

Rolling through town, I spot the A&W Restaurant, in addition to hot dogs, burgers, fries and root beer, A&W

6 JULY/AUGUST 2019

sells nostalgia; and I am definitely buying! I pull up to a drive-in spot and am served by a friendly waitress. Staying in the car, I turn on ‘50s music and pretend I’ve gone back in time. The next stop is Main Street. I marvel at the historic Garden Theatre, the gem of downtown Frankfort. I then make my way into Frannie’s Follies, a must-stop shop for tourists and anyone looking for a t-shirt or trinket. Sunbeams of Promise catches my eye next, and there I find a huge variety of local stones, including the elusive Leland Blue. Our final stop leads us to Elberta, Frankfort’s port city sister, just two miles away. In fact, this tiny town was once known as South Frankfort. My tour ends at the Cabbage Shed, a building that has more history and character than any other place in the county. First built in 1867, the shed offers over 70 varieties of Irish whiskey and the longest running open mic night in Benzie County. If you leave the Cabbage Shed without trying the Drunken Beans, you will never forgive yourself. Only a 45-minute drive from Traverse City, Frankfort has managed to hold on to its small-town charm. And, it welcomes you, like a hug from an old friend you haven’t seen in years. Christal Frost is a media personality who can be heard on Today’s Country MusicWTCM, The Christal Frost Show on NewsTalk 580-WTCM AM.


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See Frankfort In Action

Christal Frost filmed her Frankfort adventure, now available on countrylines.com. For behind-the-scenes footage, see the “Road Trippin” story highlight album on our Instagram @michigancountrylines.

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• Garden Theatre • Frannie’s Follies • Sunbeams of Promise

A& W

Nearby on Main Street:

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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Invest in ENERGY STAR®!

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re you shopping for a new appliance or electronic? Look for the blue ENERGY STAR label! Outdated appliances and electronics are wasting energy and costing you extra each month. ENERGY STAR products are tested and certified to use less energy and meet higher standards of quality and performance. Invest in quality today and you could be eligible for cash incentives from the Energy Optimization program!

What is ENERGY STAR? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced ENERGY STAR in 1992 to help consumers identify energy-efficient products. The ENERGY STAR label can now be found on major appliances, lighting, electronics, and even new homes and commercial buildings. Since the early 1990s, ENERGY STAR has helped consumers save $362 billion in utility costs. Did you know? ENERGY STAR products can use up to 75% less energy than standard models!

To earn the ENERGY STAR label, a third-party certification process ensures that all products: • Contribute significant energy savings. • Deliver the features and performance consumers demand, plus greater energy efficiency. • Back up energy savings claims with comprehensive testing.

Save Now With Energy Optimization Program Rebates! Product

Efficiency comparison (vs. a new standard model)*

Energy Optimization program rebate**

Clothes washer

Uses 35% less water and energy

$20

Computer

Uses 60% less energy

$10

Dehumidifier

Uses 15% less energy

$15

Chest Freezer

Uses at least 10% less energy

$15

Refrigerator

Uses 9% less energy

$20

Television

Uses at least 25% less energy

$10–20

Room air conditioner

Use 15% less energy

$10

*All data according to energystar.gov.  **Incentive amounts are subject to change.

View all incentives at michigan-energy.org or call 877.296.4319 for details.

Care for your

TREASURE Update your outdated, energy-wasting appliances with ENERGY STAR models. You’ll use up to 75% less energy AND save upfront with cash incentives from the Energy Optimization program:

Refrigerator $20 Dehumidifier $15

Clothes washer $20 Television $10-20

Invest in the best with

ENERGY STAR®!

Visit our website for a full list of incentives!

michigan-energy.org | 877-296-4319

Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Other restrictions may apply. For a complete list of participating utilities, visit michigan-energy.org.


Photo Contest

Four-Legged Friends 1. G  retel, our 13-month-old German Shepherd, climbs

the huge snow banks left behind from the February blizzard. Nancy and Al Warren, Ewen

2. Baxter enjoys the shores of Lake Superior at Misery Bay. Jaclyn Johnson, Hancock

3. Caelynn’s fur brother, Duke. Karen Solberg, Ontonagon 4. R  ylee Sky Heikkinen (R) and Sissy Ann Heikkinen (L)

love life in the country. This picture was taken on a trail near the Sturgeon river. Beth and Oscar Heikkinen, Pelkie

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2

3

4

Submit A Photo & Win A Bill Credit!

Ontonagon REA members whose photos we print in Michigan Country Lines will be entered in a drawing. One lucky member will win a credit up to $200 on their December 2019 energy bill!

Enter to win a

$200

energy bill credit!

Our upcoming topics and deadlines are: • Sunrise/Sunset——due July 20 (September/October issue) • Ugly Christmas Sweaters——due September 20 (November/December issue) To submit photos, and for details and instructions, go to http://bit.ly/countrylines We look forward to seeing your best photos! MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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Festive Desserts Celebrate summer with these delectable recipes. Photos by Robert Bruce Photography

Winning Recipe!

Frosty Lemon Pie Rita Schuette, Midwest Energy ¾ ¹⁄³ ¼ • 3 2 1 •

cup sugar cup lemon juice cup butter, cubed dash salt eggs, slightly beaten pints vanilla ice cream, softened and divided graham cracker crust (9 inches) whipped topping, fresh mint and lemon peel for garnish

In a small saucepan, combine lemon juice, sugar, butter and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat till sugar is dissolved and butter melted. Whisk a small amount of the sugar mixture into the eggs several times. Return all to the saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat till mixture reaches 160 F or is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Refrigerate till cool. Spread half of the ice cream in the crust. Freeze for 1 hour or till firm. Cover with half of the lemon mixture and freeze for 1 hour——repeat layers. After the 2nd layer of lemon mixture, cover and freeze several hours or overnight. Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving. Garnish if desired. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos 10 JULY/AUGUST 2019

Grandma’s Scottish Shortbread Gail Gurnee, Great Lakes Energy 1 cup softened butter ½ cup sugar 2½ cups flour Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream butter and sugar together. Gradually knead in flour until well blended. Place in 9-inch ungreased cake pan and roll or press dough in until smooth. Press the tines of a fork around the edges and prick the middle of the dough. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn down oven to 300 F and bake for an additional 50 minutes until nicely browned. Run a knife around the edge to prevent cookies sticking to pan. Cut into short little squares immediately before cookies harden.


Lime Ice Cream Dessert Joyce Tamminga, Great Lakes Energy

featured

Crust: 1½ cups Ritz cracker crumbs (about 34 crackers) 4 tablespoons sugar 5 tablespoons melted butter

GUEST CHEF This traditional Dutch favorite is shared with Tulip Time visitors from around the world. Enjoy a taste of the Old Country!

Filling: 2 quarts vanilla ice cream (½ gallon) 1 quart lime sherbet Topping: 4 tablespoons lime or lemon juice ²⁄³ cups sugar 2 eggs, well beaten 6 tablespoons butter Mix cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter; press into 9x13 inch pan. Chill. Soften ice cream and sherbet enough to mix well and spread over crust. Freeze. Mix topping ingredients in a heavy

saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until thick. Cool completely. Spread the topping on the ice cream. Keep frozen. Note: This can also be made with orange sherbet and orange juice in the place of lime sherbet and lime juice.

Raspberry Delight Pound Cake Tracy Fisher, Thumb Electric 1 1 4 1 ¹⁄³ ½ 2 ¼ 2 2 •

French vanilla or yellow cake mix small instant vanilla pudding mix large eggs cup water cup oil cup sour cream cups raspberries fresh or frozen cup water tablespoons sugar tablespoons raspberry jello (powder) cornstarch, to thicken

Preheat over to 350 F. Mix cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, oil and sour cream according to cake mix directions on the box. Pour into prepared Bundt pan. In large saucepan, cook remaining ingredients over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Thicken filling

Stamppot van Boerenkool: Curly Kale and Sausages

with cornstarch and water. Drop filling by spoonfuls over top of unbaked cake. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn cake out onto a plate. Dust with powdered sugar or serve with whipped cream.

Venison: due August 1 Christmas Cookies: due September 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Go to micoopkitchen.com for more information and to register.

Enter to win a

$50

energy bill credit!

2–3 3 • 1 4

lbs. curly kale lbs. cut-up potatoes Milk, salt, and pepper lb. smoked sausage tbsp. oleo

Strip, wash, and cut kale very fine. Boil kale in water with salt about 40 minutes. Add peeled, cut-up potatoes and sausage and enough water to prevent burning. Cook 30 minutes. Remove sausage from pan. Mash kale and potatoes and stir in boiled milk until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Read the full story about the Tulip Time Festival on page 14, and find this recipe and others at micoopkitchen.com.

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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2019 Annual Meeting Highlights

The meeting moderator was Ontonagon’s legal counsel Pat Greeley.

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ntonagon County Rural Electrification Association (OCREA) held its Annual Meeting on June 15 at Chassell High School. Members from the co-op’s seven–district service area attended the event which featured election results, reports from the co-op staff and board of directors, prize drawings, and a luncheon. Reports regarding the annual audit, finances, and an overview of co-op operations were presented by Board President Calvin Koski, Director George Rajala, General Manager Debbie Miles and Line Superintendent Mark Urbis. During the business portion of the meeting, a proposed change to the bylaws was not able to be voted on as a quorum was not present.

for District 1, incumbent Fran Wiideman was the winner with 49 votes. Randy Myhren received 47 votes and Bruce Johanson received 46 votes.

Election results were presented by the chairperson of the election committee, Ann Gasperich. In a very close race

The meeting concluded with $360 of cash prizes being distributed to 10 members with winning raffle tickets.

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2 1 Election ballots were reviewed and counted by an election committee comprised of (L to R) Jim Johnson, Paulette Archambeau, Ann Gasperich, Dan Shamion and David Reid.

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Members enjoyed a delicious buffet catered and served by Kangas Cafe of Hancock.

3 This was 16-month old Ava Impola’s second Annual Meeting, along with her parents Morgan and Danielle.

4 Fay Hauswirth and Donna Siren greeted members at the door.

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5 Linemen Justin Sironen and Luke Jouppe and Line Superintendent Mark Urbis visited with members after the meeting.

6 Sophia Pelli and her mother, Carol, enjoyed the continental breakfast.

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13


E T HR O U G O T H TIP

By Emily Haines Lloyd Photography by Tyler Leipprandt

f

or the past 90 years, the first week of May has been a time when Michiganders dust off the cobwebs of winter and look for the first signs of spring. In Holland, Michigan, the first signs look like millions of tulips bursting through the soil to delight locals and visitors alike. Tulip Time was once a local beautification project that started with 100,000 bulbs in 1929. Today it has grown to become an international hot spot for travelers from all around the world to engage in Dutch history while tiptoeing through nearly five million tulips.

In May 2019, Michigan Country Lines teamed up with Tyler Leipprandt of Michigan Sky Media for an Instagram takeover to cover Tulip Time. Leipprandt, an expert at drone photography, captured images that showcase why Tulip Time is just the kind of adventure you can start dreaming of for next spring. “Tulip Time is an opportunity for people to come and marvel at the spectacular tulip gardens and displays,” said Tulip Time Executive Director Gwen Auwerda. “But it’s also the perfect time to explore the beauty of Lake Michigan living.” If the views are saturated with bright pops of flowering color, the history that the event brings to the streets of Holland is equally rich. City officials, volunteers, and even residents don their historically accurate costumes—

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complete with real wooden shoes—providing a glimpse into life during the late 1800s and early 1900s. These traditions are proudly passed down through generations, as spectators will find local high schoolers performing traditional Dutch dancing, called Klompen, at demonstrations, as well as through the streets in multiple parades which are scheduled during the week-long event. Along with the themed-parades (Volksparade/ People’s Parade, Kinderparade/Children’s Parade, and Muziekparade/Music Parade), there are dancing demos, flower walks, and an artisan market. At Windmill Island Gardens, visitors can marvel at not only tulip gardens, but “De Zwaan,” the last Netherlands-built working windmill in the United States. Folks can take the four flights up to the windmill for a historical tour, then look at the Amsterdam


street organ, ride on the antique carousel, or purchase some fresh-milled flour to commemorate the visit. Over the years, the charm has never left Tulip Time, but new attractions have been added—a lively carnival sets up annually at the Civic Center, craft and art shows are displayed in the park, festival-goers can try yoga in the tulips, and many food and beverage demos are also featured. The latter is unsurprising, as the food and beverage scene has never been stronger. In fact, Holland boasts a variety of eateries for all preferences and a vibrant beer and spirits scene—including several breweries and distilleries who all participate in hosting the 500,000 people the festival brings in annually within a short, nine-day period.

“ Tulip Time is an opportunity for people to come and marvel at the spectacular tulip gardens and displays. But it’s also the perfect time to explore the beauty of Lake Michigan living.” — Gwen Auwerda, Tulip Time Executive Director

“We have over 800 volunteers along with city workers and businesses who make this more than an event,” said Auwerda. “Tulip Time is a part of the fabric of our community.” Over the years, while Tulip Time continues to grow and provide wonderful new experiences for attendees, it’s the quaint charm that has been a constant. So next spring, as the tulip bulbs once again sprout their brightly colored petals, make plans to visit Holland’s Tulip Time. Those sweet flowers are a reminder of spring’s hope, but also a proud past that one little town along Lake Michigan is keeping alive. Photo courtesy of Tulip Time.

SAV E T HE DAT E

May 2–10, 2020 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 15


On Lake Superior By Yvonne Whitman

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Alex Rowland has always enjoyed new adventures. Whether it’s climbing mountains or trekking through national parks, his energy and natural enthusiasm propel him to turn his dreams into reality. These days, Rowland is serving up glasses of his handcrafted kombucha and a variety of other beverages, at his Superior Culture Taproom in Marquette. Born and raised in metro Detroit, Rowland graduated from Michigan State University in 2014 with a degree in biosystems engineering. After graduation, he ping-ponged between Marquette and a series of outdoor adventures— hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and Yosemite National Park and exploring the Southwest. He worked a variety of jobs to support his travel, including the local ski hill and a wood-fired pizza truck. However, it was a job at The Marq, a local hotspot, where he cut his teeth on what it takes to succeed in the food and beverage business.

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Photo credit: Emil Gorman

“What I learned there in one year was amazing,” Rowland remarked. “I learned that if you wanted a clean and efficiently run operation, you needed to understand what it takes to make that happen from the bottom to the top. If you don’t know how to clean things or where things go, everything is just in shambles. And I took those skills from there.” This knowledge would become integral when, in the summer of 2016, he started brewing kombucha in his kitchen. Kombucha, a beverage the ancient Chinese call the “Immortal Health Elixir” has been around for hundreds of years and has a rich anecdotal history of health benefits, such as preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases. Made from sweetened tea that has been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, kombucha only recently gained prominence in the United States. The probiotic drink is rich in vitamins B and C, polyphenols and beneficial acids, which helps improve digestion. Aside from the purported medicinal values, most people simply enjoy kombucha for its natural effervescence and slightly tangy flavor.


“Years ago, we were drawn to the clean air, open spaces and sparkling waters of this Great Lake. Mother Superior keeps us fresh and alive, just like the kombucha you’re about to enjoy. Something magical lies in the culture born on her shores, and we are excited to share a piece of it with you inside every bottle. Dive in and see for yourself!”

Photo credit: Yvonne Whitman

—Alex Rowland Alex serves up a glass of kombucha in his Marquette taproom. The bar is made from wood repurposed from an 1850 farmhouse. The top of the bar is inlaid with Lake Superior agates and beach glass.

Photo credit: Alex Rowland

Rowland started home-brewing his kombucha in five-gallon batches. He bought a bottle capper and started filling old beer bottles, and soon, his fridge was overflowing. “I didn’t know what to do with it all,” Rowland said. “I’m drinking it. I’m giving a lot of it away. Then I had this thought. Okay, what would it take for me to actually sell this?” He took a bottle to a friend who owned the Flying Moose, a modern general store in Marquette. “My friend said, ‘Hey, if you can make this legitimate, I’ll sell it my store.’ He was an avid kombucha drinker and he took a sip of it and said it was the best kombucha he had ever tried. So that was my goal.”

and vegetable juices, organic tea, sugar, local grains and honey. Rowland prefers his ingredients organic and wild, and he sources them as locally as possible.

In fall 2016, Rowland started looking for a commercial kitchen. While still working two other jobs, he started buying the items he would need for his commercial brewing operation: stainless-steel equipment, refrigerators, glass bottles, labels and he created a logo. In May 2017, he moved into his current shop on Third Street. Soon after, his kombucha appeared in local retail stores. “I had three clients to start with,” Rowland said. “That was it for the first several months, and I could barely keep up with the demand.” 

Looking ahead, Rowland plans to continue selling at the Marquette Farmers Market, the Hiawatha Music Festival, and the Copper Harbor Trails Fest. This summer, he hopes to host music and food trucks in the taproom’s parking lot.

“I have ideas in my head and I get inspired by other combinations. I think of strawberry lemonade and then I think, okay, how can I translate that into kombucha?” Rowland drinks a growler of kombucha a day. And his favorite flavor? Cucumber melon mint. “In the summertime, a splash of it in a gin and tonic makes for the perfect cocktail.”

To find where you can purchase Superior Culture’s products, visit superiorculturemqt.com.

Whether he was at the local farmers market or courting new clients, Rowland kept selling out. “I bought an old oak wine barrel and started making the kombucha in that,” Alex remembers. “It was 12 times the size of what I had been using. It was trial and error, but I finally got it to where it tasted good. So, I bought more oak wine barrels and more stainless-steel fermenters.” Superior Culture kombucha is now sold in approximately 30 stores from Escanaba to Calumet.  Although Rowland started with kombucha, Superior Culture also offers a rotating variety of nano-brewed beers, hand-pressed ciders, infused sake, fire cider, kimchi, and jun. All are brewed and flavored with freshly pressed fruit

Photo credit: Alex Rowland Photo credit: Ashley Aquino

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17


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The Turtle Race Tradition By Jean Alexander, Great Lakes Energy member

E

very summer since 1986 our family travels to Six Mile Lake cottage for a week of simple, but magical, lakefront family fun and an interesting tradition—Turtle Races. The morning of departure from Indiana brings together: three sisters, one niece, four nephews, and grandma. Loading the car is always a hoot, as we fit suitcases, extra food, linens, treats for the trip, and even bicycles. The usual eight or nine passengers somehow all fit in, too.

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo above by July 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com or send by mail to: Country Lines Mystery Photo, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Include the name on your account, address, phone number and the name of your co-op. Our Mystery Photo Contest winner from the May issue is Elsa Oja, an Ontonagon County REA Co-op member, who correctly identified the photo as historic downtown Calumet. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.

What fun upon arrival it is assigning beds, cots and blow up mattresses. Our lakefront offers a playground with sand, boats, a dock, badminton, floats, fishing rods, and a shallow lake. Days are spent fishing, swimming, floating on rafts, baseball games, catching crawdads, laughter, and days of splendid family togetherness. Of course, one day is always chosen for the famous “Turtle Races.” We scout for turtles along the lakeshore, spray paint the start and finish lines and assign everyone a turtle. Each turtle is then named. We hold many races—some long races, some short runs, “a sprayed box-shaped form” where turtles go in all directions to cross lines and continue racing has even been created by grandma for the day. The longest and last race always ends with turtles racing back into the lake, and we bid our turtles goodbye. Our adventure then culminates with prizes being awarded to all the winning “turtle coaches.” Each summer we are reminded how strange it is that turtles never seem to move in a straight path, but wander around going nowhere specific except to the water. But, hopefully, next year we will each get a better, bigger and wiser turtle. Jean enjoys sports, nature and going “up north” to Michigan as often as possible.

May 2019

Photo by Cody McClellan @codyjmcclellanphotography

18 JULY/AUGUST 2019

“We are reminded how strange it is that turtles never seem to move in a straight path, but wander around going nowhere specific except to the water.”


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ELECTRICAL SAFETY LESSONS

Schools out for summer and it’s a great time to teach kids about safety around electricity. We encourage you to share these electrical safety tips and lessons with your little ones as often as possible:

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Instruct them to avoid any downed power lines. In fact, it is best to avoid power lines, transformers, and substations in general. A downed power line can still be energized, and it can also energize other objects, including fences and trees. Make sure your kids understand the potential dangers of coming in contact with a downed power line or low hanging wire. And, if they encounter a downed power line, ask them to tell you or another adult to call for help. Point out electronics in your home that are not in use and how to keep appliances safely away from liquids. 

Never put metal objects in outlets or appliances.

Never mix water and electricity.

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Discuss fire prevention and create a family fire drill plan. 

Do not overcrowd electrical outlets.

No matter the ways you enforce electrical safety with your children, Ontonagon is here to help.

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July/Aug 2019 Ontonagon  

July/Aug 2019 Ontonagon