History of Old Town Lansing and 7 Events You Won’t Want to Miss
Here is how Old Town Lansing came to be. New York land speculators James Seymour and Jacob Cooley purchased the land from the federal government In 1842, the area was officially named Lansing Township. Today it is officially known as Old Town Lansing. The Grand Rivers first dam was built nearby in 1843 and it was used to power the areas first sawmill. Old Town is where the first bridge was built across the Grand River, and where the first school house was built in the area. Towards the end of the 20th century, Old Town had become a shell of what it once was, buildings abandoned or burned out, people lost interest in downtowns. For the past 30 years an inspired and motivated group has worked to bring the charm back to Old Town Lansing. Several other partners which include the Michigan Institute for Contemporary arts, the City of Lansing, The Principle Shopping District, Downtown Lansing Inc, The Turner-Dodge House and others, have helped Old Town to grow into a thriving environment of art, festivals, Boutiques and creative businesses. Old Town hosts 111 events every year. 2020 is not a normal year obviously due to the coronavirus, but keep these events in mind for the future when they are able to bring them back.
Out of the many events that happen in Old Town, here are 7 of my favorites:
Scrapfest celebrates artists who create amazing works of art from scrap metal. Artists get up to 500 pounds of scrap and two weeks to create a masterpiece. Additional sustainable artists, music, education and food round out the event! A free, signature event for all ages and normally happens mid July.
Old Town Oktoberfest, one of Mid-Michigan’s only German Oktoberfest event. Old Town Oktoberfest features authentic German food, live polka music, dancing, and 12oz souvenir mugs filled with world-renowned German-style beer. This two-day event attracts visitors from all over the Midwest. After all, how can one resist two days of musik, essen, and bier? Oktoberfest is a 21+ only event!
The Old Town BluesFest is a free music festival that takes place each year in the early autumn in Lansing, Michigan. It showcases nationally, regionally, and locally known blues artists such as W. C. Clark, Grana' Louise, Byther Smith, Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang, A.C. Reed, Jan James, and Lady Sunshine and the X Band, Calvin Cooke and Sacred Steel Ensemble, Mojo Phoenix, Those Delta Rhythm Kings, the Automatic Blues Band, Root Doctor, Doug Deming and the All Stars, J.R. Clark, and more. The festival welcomes nearly 20,000 attendees over the weekend of the festival.
26th Annual Michigan JazzFest will be going virtual for 2020. The festival will now be a week-long interactive online experience held Sept. 13-20, and will be conducted in tandem with Michigan BluesFest. “Our festival’s team felt that it is in the best interests of fans, volunteers and musicians to host virtual concerts this year”, Marcus Sigh, MICA’s new operations manager, said.
The Michigan Pride Festival in Lansing (Old Town) happens in mid June. We invite you to join in this month and celebrate diversity, love, compassion, the strides, the struggles, and the impact of our LGBTQ family right here in Michigan. Head to MIPride.org to find out about Pride in Michigan and the many events going on to celebrate all month long. How you can get involved, volunteer, donate, and more.
The Renegade Theatre Festival Renegadetheatrefestival.org A 24 hour event challenging 5 writers and 5 teams to create performances of 10 minute plays. The conclusion to the Renegade Theatre Festival
Old Town Lansing Brrs, Beards & Brews: A Lumberjack Festival Late February. It’s a bare boned old school good time. Beer, Whiskey, Beard Competitions, feats of strength, games and vendors.