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Allegan, Final Overview

I have more photos of Allegan/Michigan Fiber Festival. They are not of my classes or purchases but things I found interesting or lovely. I thought maybe I’d give you a bit of a travelogue to accompany the photos.

I arrived in Allegan on Tuesday night, just after dark. I tried so hard to get there before dark but I had so much to do getting ready, after three days not being home because of the Great Lakes Folk Festival, that I missed that goal by maybe half an hour. Fortunately, folks were still awake on the fairgrounds and they let me know where I was staying.

Scene on highway 89, rural MichiganI feel very fortunate to have an RV on the premises of the fairgrounds during the six days/five nights I am there. Because there is so little “American” food I can eat without getting sick, I find the refrigerator and microwave just invaluable for my comfort during that long stretch away from home.

This time I stopped at Altu’s restaurant on the way out of town and purchased two dinners, so that I would have that to sustain me at least during the beginning of the week away. It was a luxury to have my favorite food during this somewhat rustic week. OK, it’s an RV rather than a tent, but I’m a citygrrl through and through, and breathing all that grass/weeds/animals stuff in the air does wear me out. For the record, I have no need of air conditioning over 95% of the time in Michigan so in that way I do rough it at home but I like it that way.

Children in Rural MichiganActually, the first and last nights I was at the fairgrounds, it was quite chilly at night. The first night it got down to 55F/12.8C and I woke up in the morning to the sound of a furnace blowing. That was a luxury I appreciated! The thermostat was set to 60F/15.5C and it also turned on Sunday morning. I remember when I was in Africa and there was no thermostat on the wall, it got in the 50’s F there and we just wrapped up in more blankets. It was wonderful to keep it at 60 at Allegan. For someone like me who thinks 86F is not quite hot yet, I was delighted to have a tiny bit of heat at that point.

As I mentioned in an earlier post (first entry August 22), Wednesday I taught 14 people about polymer clay. It was magical. I love teaching so much, the time just flies by and we all learn from one another. Incredible.

Terrie was in my Wednesday class. I met her and Leslie at a Great Lakes Folk Festival several years ago, and we always try to go out for dinner sometime during the Michigan Fiber Fest and talk and talk. So Wednesday night we headed out to Plainwell, to the London Grill. We have gone there before and had good experiences. They have English pub food (fish and chips for one) and they also have Indian cuisine such as Tandoori chicken. Not exactly the way it’s made in a restaurant with only Indian cuisine, but it’s good.

So we headed down highway 89 (a two lane road) from Allegan through Otsego and over the main highway, to Plainwell. On the way down that road, I sat at a stoplight and noticed this interesting home on the corner. I got out the camera just in time to get a shot of not only the house but in the bottom left corner you can see two boys with tackle boxes and fishing poles. A true summer scene of small town Michigan. Here’s a close-up of the kids, as well.

London Grill, Plainwell MichiganWe had a great night and I had leftovers to take back to the wonderful refrigerator in the RV. I tried to work on my computer (no internet, though) but could not stay awake so crashed I think before midnight! There is almost no night I hit the pillow before 1am but days spent standing up and teaching, in an open pole barn with all that “fresh air,” is enough to tucker me out.

Thursday I mostly stayed to myself. I slept in as much as I could, had Altu’s for lunch from the wonderful refrigerator (are you seeing a pattern here?) and went to the library to get online. They allow a mere hour, so I barely got through my emails before I was done. I then worked on my laptop for a while, went to Kinkos in Kalamazoo to print a few things (that was fun, I do enjoy driving and I loved seeing a few neighborhoods in Kalamazoo near K. College).

Thursday night I helped my friend Linda of Little Red Schoolhouse Yarn. She had a booth for Friday/Saturday/Sunday, so I helped set up. Her daughter Lisa was there, too, and we actually had some fun although there was plenty to do. I got several things out of the exchange… company on a slow night, and a place to show off my work. Linda carries all of my patterns and sold a good number of Sassy Summer Handbag patterns throughout the weekend. She also displayed my self portrait in her booth.
Again, I crashed early on Thursday. All that nature, I guess.

Friday was magic. Five people and Turkish socks (see second post, August 22). Incredible.

After class Friday I made my yearly pilgrimage to Ellen’s Half-Pint Fiber Farm to buy sockyarn. It was hard to decide but I got the Blue/Turquoise/Hot Green version. I swear, I could just drink in every color in that booth. I just love these women, they are kind and thoughtful and gentle, but very businesslike. They were tired from a week at Stitches but just as friendly as if it were their only show this month. I knew I’d wait to buy other things until later, but her sockyarns sell out fast and so I jumped on my favorite while it was still an option.
Sheep Dog HerdingFriday night after the vendors closed, I met up with some folks I know from Bloomiefest and the online “Sock of the Whenever” group. We had planned to go to Stella’s Bistro, a woman-owned restaurant in Allegan. The sign said “welcome” but they were closed. Boo hoo. So someone in the three-car caravan said they had been to the Grill House before just outside of town and it was good. Off we went. The food was more fancy and more meat-focused than my normal routine, but with Cathy R’s assistance I found a salad with grilled sashimi-grade tuna, and it was pretty darned good. Not Altu’s, but better than average for sure.

Saturday morning I finished up with the amazing Turkish-Sock-Knitting women in my class. We chatted long after class was officially over, and that was wonderful. Saturday afternoon I socialized with folks who have booths who are folks I know, and kept having to bring more patterns to Linda’s booth (I did not complain at all). I
Then Saturday night Linda and Lisa and I decided to have a bit of an adventure. I’d seen an Indian restaurant in Kalamazoo the day before, and mentioned maybe going there for dinner. A customer in Linda’s booth recommended a different Indian place, in Portage (next door to Kalamazoo). Later Lynne Sahlgren (wife of Mark Sahlgren the DJ/Musician we’ll be seeing next weekend at Coopers Glen Festival) stopped by in the booth and confirmed that the place in Portage was very good.

Sheep Dog HerdingSo I ran to the library in the last 15 minutes they were open. The librarian at the front desk got me directions to the restaurant. (I can say nothing but wonderful things about the librarians at Allegan in the two years I’ve visited there.) We were set to go!

After the booths closed for the night, Linda and Lisa and I piled into Linda’s van and we had a great chat and drive to and from the restaurant. Linda had never tried Indian food before so I did my best to tell her the little I knew about the items on the menu. It had a lot more variety than the places in Lansing. There are many cuisines in India, many cultural groups/language groups with their own foods. In Chicago I can find places which offer Dosai or Biryani but I haven’t seen those much in Lansing. This place had the foods I see in Lansing plus the two more types.

I had Channa Masala, a chickpea/garbanzo dish with tomato sauce on rice. Lisa had a chicken saag which has a spinach/cheese sauce, and Linda tried a curried lamb dish which she pronounced delicious. They tried roti and chapatis, two breads I don’t see much (the standard in Lansing seems to be naan). They had masala chai tea and I had black tea. We were SO full and happy, and we took home enough food for lunch the next day.

I shared space in my wonderful refrigerator with Lisa and Linda so that they could have a really special lunch on Sunday. The fairgrounds is full of corn dogs and fries (although the sausage/corn dog booth was so clean I was amazed… I might have liked to patronize him for more than just diet coke if it were food I could eat). In fact, when I passed by their booth on Sunday and they were eating the leftovers, you should have seen the smiles on their faces! It was great.

Sunday was take-it-easy day for LynnH. I slept in, I had breakfast late, got dressed and finally wandered out to say hello to others. I did the rest of my purchasing that you saw in my August 24 post, on Sunday. I chatted with vendors, I did what I could to actually buy mostly from folks I know. Of course I know so many people now that I can’t buy from everyone but that was my focus.

I also watched the herding dog demonstrations. i just love watching this. The dog is SO into herding he doesn’t want to stop. The shepherd tells the dog to lie down and he just does not want to do that. He might act as though he’s going to lie down but then he’s out there trying to herd again. It’s incredible.

Sunday ended too soon, though I was really tired. I helped Linda and Lisa pack up their booth in record time and packed my car full as well. My sweet Brian took me out to dinner when I got home. What a guy.

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