The weather this weekend was just about as close to perfect as a summer day can get here in Michigan. The Lakes Area had many fun things to do for free in that fabulous sunny weather. I myself had a busy day Saturday out here in West Oakland, and thought I would share with you some of the fun events that I got to photograph for the Spinal Column.
I started out at a water ski show by Oakland County’s own Spray Masters Ski Team. The Spray Masters have members of all ages, as they advertise themselves as a “family” team. This weekend they were performing their 2011 circus themed show in Highland on Duck Lake for the Axford Acres Subdivision. I grabbed a nice spot on the edge of the beach just as they were about to start their show with a big pyramid of skiers. I though the show was fun and cute. They kept it moving well with music, dancing, and an emcee in between the skiing. My only regret was not being able to stay for the whole show, as I had to head out to Waterford to my next stop, Log Cabin Days.
The Waterford Log Cabin Days is a two-day festival on the ground of the Fish Hatchery Park. The park is beautiful this time of year, because the river flows through the grounds, and you can walk along the boardwalk and enjoy the big willows draping over the water.
The Waterford Historical Society has been working hard for many years now to build its own historic “turn of the century” village in compliments of the original Hatchery house already located there. They have more than ten buildings on the site now, including a real log cabin built in Waterford in the 1930s, and caboose from the Grand Trunk railroad. There are a number of recreated buildings like a general store, print shop, and the newest addition, a historic filling station, complete with antique gas pumps. The buildings are built and furnished with antiques by volunteers from the area, and you can tell there was much love and time invested into each one of them, by how meticulously everything is set up to reflect just how things might have looked at the turn of the century or before.
I have been to the village several times before to take photos as work has progressed. This time, I had more time to take a good look at all of the insides of the buildings and all of the antiques and history lessons they held. My favorite stop was the print shop, this is , of course, because I work for a newspaper. The volunteers inside made me a book mark on the antique print press and explained to me how the type was set and inked on the smaller press to proof the text before moving on to the bigger, faster, larger press.
I also liked the small doctor and dentist offices across the way from the print shop; they were complete with old Michigan licenses and degrees framed on the walls. I think the favorite spot for kids was the Grand Trunk caboose.
Not only were the buildings and their antiques a treasure to be enjoyed, but also the atmosphere of the festival encouraged volunteers and attendees to share their personal family histories from the Waterford area. In the middle of the village was a tent set up for kids to try out old methods of washing clothes, play with antique gardening equipment, and make crafts. There, I spoke to a man who told me about his father, who worked in the area after the war and worked as an electricians who helped to set up the high wires in this part of the county. He told me that his father helped to wire Oakland County International Airport when it was built, and from his connection to the place, ended up catching a ride on one of the first planes to fly out of the airport.
Across the river I spoke with one of the historic re-enactors encamped along the river. He was a professional surveyor, and spoke about the different types of techniques used to survey the land when Michigan was being explored and mapped by Europeans. Some techniques are still used today in the UP by loggers.
I also caught a performance of the Waterford Pontiac Big Chief Chorus, an unofficial impromptu performance on the shuttle bus over to the park, and later, during their offical set when I enjoyed my lunch. There was a white elephant sale to raise money for the historical society, and strawberry sundaes for sale as a treat. I took advantage of the used book sale and got four great paperbacks for only a dollar!
I really enjoyed all of the people and antiques at Log Cabin Days. There was something there for everyone to enjoy, and inspired people to share their family history from the area. The weather was great, and the Hatchery House looked splendid in a fresh paint job. If you did not make it to Log Cabin Days this year, I highly suggest you make a trip with your family next year. It is free, its local, and there is a lot of heart and soul that goes into putting it on.
From Waterford I drove down M59 Milford road in down into Central Park, where I caught the very end of a Civil War style wedding of two Milford residents, Meghan and Jeff Hadac. The wedding party was decked out in big hoop skirted dresses, and Union soldier attire. This weekend Milford was commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with many encampments and memorials throughout the area. This wedding had the honored guest of President Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, (who were really Pam Dawson of Milford, and Gerald Bestrom of Hastings). Mrs. Lincoln did a good job of holding character when I introduced myself as the photographer from the Spinal Column Newsweekly. She asked me if it was a Republican or Democratic newspaper, “because we’re Republican,” she said. Cute.
From Central Park I drove up Milford Road to the high school, where Sparks in the Park was being held. The bounce house and rock-climbing wall looked to be extremely popular with the kids in attendance, but for adults, I found it cool that you could SHOP at Sparks in the Park. There was a line of vendors selling lots of goods, and some for charity. That entertained me for a time while I waited for the fireworks to start.
There were bands playing starting around five and continuing right up until the start of the fire works show. I enjoyed the performance by the headliners the Infatuations, a local Detroit area band. Their music was rocking and danceable, while still family appropriate. I thought it was a sweet touch that the female singer encourage kids to come up in front of the stage and dance. It was a good party.
I also took a stroll over to the back of Milford High School where the “Great Campout” was held. Families had set up tents on the field near the baseball diamonds playing catch and relaxing in camping chairs. A volunteer from Sparks in the Park passed out marshmallows to campers to make smores over a fire by the football field.
Although It was easy for me to find a place to park on the grounds of the high school, it seems that camping out was probably the way to go if bringing that family, and looking to enjoy a very relaxing day. That way there would be no rush to get home after the fireworks. I was envious of the people who were able to just stroll back to their tents and relax. I still had a drive home after the fire works show ended, and I was tired from such a nice long day in the sun.
As tired as I was by the start of the fireworks I was glad I stayed. The show was great, and I had a great spot on the high school grounds to watch the show. I also go some great photos of the fireworks. Fire works are annually one of my favorite things to photograph, mostly because it is so tricky to do.
When I finally made it home from my very full day out in the summer sun of the Lakes area, I could not help think of how lucky we are to have such great and free events to enjoy. They are a treasure, and reflect and enhance life here in West Oakland County. You don’t have to drive hours away to enjoy a great time with your family, and you don’t need to spend a tone of money. With all of the organizations and folks in this area who work hard to put on great events such as these, I challenge you to get out one afternoon and enjoy one. I doubt you would be disappointed. In fact, I will bet, you will be like me, tired from a fun day, and ready with stories and photos to share. Thanks to all who helped put these great events on.
P.S. You can see many of my photos from these events on our Facebook page, and while you are there, click to “Like” us, and tell your friends to do so too!