This article was written by Julie Anna Densmore, a new contributor to Lowell’s First Look.
The Lowell Area Historical Museum held its 7th annual fundraising event, Summer Fest, on Friday, August, 20th. After going virtual last year, this year’s event hosted a total of 110 attendees who enjoyed a night of delicious food and drinks, and the soothing sounds of the Easy Idle String Band.
Held on location at the beautiful historic Graham home established in 1873, the museum opened its doors where guests could take in all the fascinating history the museum provides, while filling their cups and plates with offerings from local vendors. Tickets to the fundraiser were $40 and included a souvenir glass and all the food and drink provided. Tickets are generally sold in advance but a few were available at the door. Funds raised at the event are put towards the many programs and exhibits the museum provides as a source of education and enrichment for the local community.
This year, patrons enjoyed a variety of tasty offerings provided by Flat River Grill, Heidi’s Farmstand & Bakery, Miss P’s Catering, Mynt Fusion, Sneaker’s, Big Boiler Brewing, B.C. Pizza and Larkin’s restaurant, who also provided the bartending for the event. Vendors showcased local favorites like Flat River’s wood-fired flatbread and Sneaker’s spicy sausage-stuffed mushrooms, and guests raved about Miss P’s light and beautifully prepared bite-sized offerings of cucumber sandwiches and chicken salad in puff pastry. Besides their delicious beer cheese dip, Big Boiler Brewing provided a variety of Michigan beers and the friendly faces from Larkin’s kept glasses full with plenty of lovely wine options.
Among the attendees were members of the community who are the very founders of this wonderful organization. The mood was light and nostalgic, perfectly complemented by the sounds of the Easy Idle String Band. The joy experienced by the patrons was palpable, as was a feeling of appreciation for the continued support of the museum and Lowell’s history. Everyone was so clearly delighted to be there in support of such a worthy cause.
Guests Marge and Harry Worst have attended every Summer Fest since it began in 2015. When asked what keeps them coming back every year, Marge explained, “Each year there are new items that surpass the previous years.” For Harry, “The people are extremely friendly and this year as in the years past we have been able to meet some very nice people.”
When asked what they enjoy most about the event, “Two things are my favorite. The food is just amazing. Also, the Easy Idle String Band is a favorite. I could listen to them every night. They are spectacular and so easy to listen to,” said Marge. In Harry’s opinion, “For me, it is the beer. A great opportunity to sample a number of beers without being overwhelmed with choices. Each of the breweries brings just one or two of their most interesting beers to sample. But you cannot enjoy beer without some food and the food at this event is a perfect combination to go with the beer.”
Lisa Plank, who has served as the museum’s Executive Director for the past seven years, described the annual Summer Fest as, “the signature fundraising event for the Museum”. The event itself is no minor undertaking. Plank credits the event’s co-chairs, Ardis Barber and Tony Dommer who line up the event’s sponsors and food and drink vendors, as well as assisting in the setting up, decorating and various details that go into pulling off such an evening.
Plank also credits the active group of volunteers who help set up, assist and clean up after the event. She would also like to extend a special thank you to others who made this year’s event so special: “First, Larkin’s has been an integral part of this event from the first year. They not only provide the bartending but they donate food as well. The Easy Idle Band provides the perfect musical backdrop to this event and really adds to the ambiance in the garden. Terra Verde Landscaping completed the beautiful new landscaping to replace trees that had died along the road side. With support from the Lowell Garden Club and two private donors, the project was a beautiful upgrade to the garden.”
The Importance of the Museum’s Presence in the Community
Plank has dedicated 12 years of service to the Lowell Area Historical Museum. When asked how she thinks the community benefits from the continued support and overall presence of the museum, Plank explained, “The Lowell Area Historical Museum collects, preserves and presents the fascinating history of the Lowell area. The Lowell area supports the Museum in many ways and also benefits in many ways.”
Through historical exhibits, both in the building and throughout the community, public programming, and educational classes for Lowell Area Schools students the Lowell Area Historical Museum teaches others about the area’s history. Researchers can be found regularly using the Museum’s resources to discover aspects of history that are important to them, bringing the past to life. Sharing stories from the past helps keeps them alive.
Continued Support of the Lowell Area Historical Museum
When asked about the importance of supporting the Historical Museum, veteran attendee, Harry Worst, explained “[The museum] provides one of the ways to learn about the history of a community. I think that all museums struggle to stay funded, they are expensive to operate and rely heavily on donations. In this case, you are not only donating to the museum, you get a great night out. Additionally, we are supporting friendships that we have in the community.”
Besides becoming a member of the Lowell Area Historical Museum and attending the annual Summer Fest, there are more opportunities throughout the year where folks can show their support including an apple dumpling booth at the Fallasburg Festival this September; an annual Fund Drive held in November; a raffle held in the spring; and a food booth each Thursday at the Lowell Summer Concert Series. For more information, please visit the Museum’s website, or contact Executive Director, Lisa plank at 616-897-7688 or via email.