Schoolcraft’s Annual Christmas Walk Celebrates 30 Years

By Linda Lane

Celebrating 30 years, Schoolcraft’s Annual Christmas Walk through the village will be from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, and from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.

“It’s a great tradition, started by Norma Tackett out of her love for our town to encourage people to visit the area, said Deb Christiansen. “It’s our special celebration of Christmas. It gives the town something to dress up for, because we’ve got company coming!” Tackett was the original owner of Norma’s Antiques, formerly in Schoolcraft.

Kelly Bergland and Deb Christiansen teamed up together again to coordinate the annual Christmas Walk. Both have made substantial donations to organize and publicize the event for the community.

“After Norma Tackett passed away several years ago, people wanted it to go on, and Deb and I jumped in to help with it. I found some old fliers in the archives of the Schoolcraft Ladies Library when Norma started the Annual Christmas Walk. This was really her baby,” Bergland said. “One of Norma’s fliers read, ‘All of us in Schoolcraft want you to take a Christmas Walk. You are cordially invited to browse, eat, drink and talk. We hope that this will get your Christmas spirit on its way and you’ll want to visit us another day.’”

“It’s a heartfelt endeavor on our part. It’s a community building experience. This village – they’re our friends. We really believe in the outcome of what we’re doing; it’s about getting people to work together,” Bergland said.

An annual highlight with children, Santa will be in town for photos at The Beauty Bar on Grand Street, with pictures being taken by Reflections Modern Photography from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, December 8. Cost for the photo is $10 and includes a goodie bag. Kids can also decorate cookies with the Girl Scouts from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. that Saturday at the Schoolcraft Library. A craft and cookie sale with refreshments and a tour of the historic Schoolcraft Ladies Library will be held Friday from 6-9 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Festivities at the Schoolcraft United Methodist Church will include a sloppy Joe and pie supper Friday, December 7 from 5-6:30 p.m. with the “Forgot to Shave Quartet” and other musicians playing that evening. The next day will offer a homemade soup luncheon and cookie walk from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The church will also have a bake sale, white elephant sale, craft sale and a silent auction on Friday and Saturday.

The First Presbyterian Church will offer craft items, baked goods and raffle tickets on Friday evening at the DeVries Law offices. They will also host a “pasties and chicken ’n biscuits” on Saturday at their Westminster Hall from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. There will also be clothing boutiques, attic treasures, crafts, a bake sale and a raffle.

This year, a “Christmas Vendor & Craft Event” will be hosted Friday evening and Saturday at the American Legion on Clay Street with a chili supper on Friday evening.

Bryce Cooley will sketch live caricatures at the Grand Antique Gallery, and other area shops will be celebrating the event including Schoolcraft Antique Mall, Nana D’s Attic, Abby’s Shop, the Kalamazoo County State Bank and the Schoolcraft Lions Club.

For the latest information on the Christmas Walk, visit the interactive map at

Christmas in the Village Brings Big Crowds to Vicksburg

By Sue Moore

Hundreds of children and their parents line up to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus during Vicksburg’s annual Christmas in the Village celebration each year, usually in the cold outside the Community Center. Plans have changed dramatically for 2018. Santa will greet the youngsters inside the empty Hill’s Pharmacy building at 110 S. Main from 7-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.

Visits with Santa will follow the 6 p.m. parade through downtown streets with the Big Red Machine, Vicksburg High School’s marching band, leading off. Floats lit with Christmas lights will be the featured attraction along with fire trucks from all over the area in their Christmas finery.

Activities begin with the bake sale fundraiser at the Historical Society’s Depot Museum from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Vendors from the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market will set up in the Hill’s Pharmacy building until 5 p.m. Featured dance acts from the Vicksburg Schools Community Education department will perform on the stage in Oswalt Park during the afternoon. Magician Brian Penney, who held kids captivated last year, begins the fun at 2 p.m. on the stage. A special reading of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will be given by Terri Girardi. Caroling and other entertainment will be featured in the tent furnished by the village of Vicksburg to keep people somewhat warm. Festive window decorations by local businesses will add to the atmosphere throughout downtown.

Lots of children’s activities are scheduled during the afternoon at the Community Center where the Vicksburg District Library, the Southwest Michigan Button Club, Revelry Theatre and Project Graduation will be sponsoring kids’ events and food for sale. If that isn’t enough excitement for the little ones, the event organizing committee headed by Mary Ruple and John DeBault of the Downtown Development Authority have secured a live reindeer exhibit at the Vicksburg Historic Village from 4-7 p.m.

While petting the reindeer, folks who love model trains can take a nostalgia trip next door to see the O gauge train display in the Historic Village. To get there, a wagon ride from downtown is available to transport entire families to the site and bring them back again. Crafts and other activities will take place within the business locations downtown. There will be bake sale items available for sale at 101 E. Prairie in the afternoon.

To cap off the evening after the parade, there will be a tree lighting ceremony in Oswalt Park along with the Vicksburg High School choir members leading a community caroling session.

“Visitors to the event will be able to warm their tummies with specialty foods created for the occasion at the downtown restaurants,” according to DeBault. The Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a Pub Crawl to wrap up the evening for adults.

Ruple credits the sponsors of the event for making it noteworthy. ”Without their financial help we just couldn’t offer all these festivities,” she said. They include Frederick Construction, The Mill at Vicksburg, Imerys, Main St. Pub, the Village of Vicksburg, the Area Chamber of Commerce, Grossman Law, Hungry Howies and Fred’s Community Pharmacy. All have chipped in at various funding levels.

Christmas in the Village Activities

Pictured below are several Christmas in the Village activity photos with descriptions.

Community Caroling

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Schoolcraft residents gather in 2016 to sing their hearts out while caroling throughout the village. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

Caroling in Schoolcraft has brought happiness to shut-ins and carolers alike the last two years. Organized by Darby Fetzer and the Schoolcraft Community Library staff, the singers have gone from door to door to bring joy throughout the community.

Anyone who loves to sing is invited to join their neighbors on Tuesday, December 18th at 6:30 p.m. They will meet at the Schoolcraft Community Library, then travel to several choice Schoolcraft locations for caroling. Everyone is invited, even if they are not a resident of Schoolcraft. Please dress for the weather and bring a flashlight to read the provided printed carols. Kirk Bergland will be leading the singing. Afterwards everyone is invited to warm up with complimentary hot chocolate and cookies at the Library until 8 p.m. For questions, please call Darby Fetzer at 569-5557.

A Gift to Those Passing Thru Schoolcraft on Christmas Eve

John Bennett with luminaria kit
John Barnett displays the luminaria packets that the Presbyterian Church sells to decorate the streets in Schoolcraft.

By Linda Lane

Luminarias will again light the sidewalks of Schoolcraft on both sides of Grand Street (US 131) with 600 candles burning bright. Running from Lyons Street south to the railroad tracks on Grand Street, the Village of Schoolcraft will be aglow thanks to the dedicated members of the First Presbyterian Church of Schoolcraft and many volunteers from the Village.

John Bambacht, an elder with the Presbyterian Church in Schoolcraft, has been in charge of the luminaria project for over 20 years. “Each week of December we light one Advent candle which represents love, joy, hope, and peace, following in Christ’s tradition. On Christmas Day, we light the Christ candle. Our luminarias along Grand Street symbolize these Advent principles celebrating Christmas,” Bambacht said.

The project seems truly to take a village, with cooperation between the Presbyterian Church, the village of Schoolcraft, local businesses and many village residents. The endeavor requires three days of volunteers helping to organize the project. The Church calls upon families, kids and adults, to help fill jugs with sand and candles on December 23, load them onto a truck to light and distribute the luminarias on Christmas Eve, and return on Christmas morning to pick them up again. The public is welcome to lend a hand with the project. Volunteers will gather at noon on Christmas Eve at the First Presbyterian Church, 224 E Cass St. to set up. The candles will be lit at dusk.

Several local businesses such as Concept Molding donate jugs used for the luminarias and a big lighted arrow construction sign is donated by Rathco to narrow the traffic on US-131 into the center lanes to provide safety for volunteers putting out the luminarias.

The Presbyterian Church will again offer kits for the public to purchase for their own use at homes in town. Two nicely packaged kits including 10-hour candles, bags, and candle burn cup will be available: a kit of eight candles for $10 and a kit of 16 for $20. Residents will need to provide their own sand, kitty litter or dirt for the luminarias. Residents may contact the Presbyterian Church office on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday between 9 a.m.-noon at 269-679-4062.

Proceeds from the luminarias sale and support of area merchants go into the luminary fund to continue this Schoolcraft tradition. It supports the Presbyterian Church’s philosophy: “It is our gift to those passing through Schoolcraft on Christmas eve.”

Schoolcraft Retiree Holiday Dinner on Dec. 13

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Senior citizens have been invited to share a meal with the administrators of the Schoolcraft School system each year. It’s a chance for area residents to learn what is happening and ask questions about the facilities.

Schoolcraft residents can start their holidays gathering with Schoolcraft friends and neighbors at the high school cafeteria at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 13 for a complimentary Holiday Dinner. The menu includes salad, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, roll and brownies for dessert prepared by the school’s kitchen crew. The evening will feature special music, district updates with time for questions from the guests.

To make a reservation, call Darby Fetzer at 269-569-5557.

Home Brewing Store Opens in Vicksburg

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Andy Clouse and Dane Bosel do the honors in a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of their new store on Main Street. The event was sponsored by the Vicksburg Area Chamber of Commerce. The president Mandy Miller is in the orange jacket. Beside her is Brain Pitts a trustee of the Chamber and Lindsey Bosel with their three boys from left to right: Brody Bosel, Maycee Miller with the pink sleeves, Harry and Charlie Bosel.

By Sue Moore

The South County Homebrew Supply store has almost 450 items in stock and is adding to the inventory all the time. It aims to be a one-stop shop for home brewers to get whatever they need, said Dane Bosel, co-owner of the store along with Andy Clouse. They are also the owners of the next-door Distant Whistle Brewhouse.

“We love beer and we love talking about beer. We can spend hours just talking about the craft, and this store is a great way to pass on the things we have learned,” Bosel said. “Having started out as home brewers, we felt like we needed to encourage and grow the ability for others to brew at home and make good beer.”

It appears that they do make good beer; the Distant Whistle has a loyal following, having just celebrated its second anniversary this summer. Nov. 24 saw the grand opening of the homebrew store at 116 S Main Street with a ribbon cutting sponsored by the South County Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We are catering to homebrewers and home winemakers,” Bosel said. “The store contains supplies, ingredients, and books to help home brewers create their best crafts and creations. “The store stocks 60 varieties of hops, 20 strains of Omega liquid yeast and several dry yeast strains, over 50 different grains, as well as several different varieties of dry and liquid malt extracts and kits.”

The only other store in this area with home brewing stock is at Bell’s in Kalamazoo, Bosel noted.

Being a well-stocked supply store, South County Homebrew Supply is suited to offer competitive products at competitive prices comparable to other local home brew shops, Bosel said. South County Homebrew Supply plans to encourage networking and socialization between brewing enthusiasts by offering brewing competitions. The store can be reached on Facebook at or by phone: 269-475-5447.

Grossman Law to Become Grossman, Horne & Cannizzaro

Brett Grossman, Annelore Cannizzaro and Andrew Horne in their office that displays an aerial photo of the village of Vicksburg on the wall.

By Sue Moore

“Families will continue to be well-served by our growing law practice,” said Brett Grossman in announcing his new partners, Andrew Horne and Annelore Cannizzaro. “Our practice areas complement each other as we look out for our clients’ best interests.”

“The practice of law has changed since I graduated from Wayne State University law school,” Grossman said. “People want quick responses from their attorneys. It’s more of a nuts and bolts situation now with less formality. We have found that members of this community are loyal clients as they’ve gotten to know us both personally and professionally.”

The three attorneys were from other cities before they settled into Vicksburg. They joined service clubs, took responsibility for helping others less fortunate and placed their children in the local school system. “We kind of married into Vicksburg,” said Grossman. He met his wife, Katie, at Wayne State when she was in medical school and decided to settle in her home town. Similarly, Horne’s wife, Tiffany, is from Three Rivers. She wanted to return from Florida where they were both teachers. Cannizzaro went to Michigan State University for undergraduate study and then veterinary school before settling down with husband Charlie in Vicksburg.

All three of the partners have ties to MSU although Horne doesn’t wear it on his sleeve quite like the other two. He graduated from Michigan State’s law school but did his undergrad work at Saginaw Valley State University. Grossman is a Lansing area native with a bachelor’s degree from MSU. What each acknowledges is their love of this small-town community and not having to practice in a large law firm in a big city.

“Our practice is growing,” Grossman said. After large firm life, he hung out his shingle on N. Main Street in downtown Vicksburg in 2008, then moved to a remodeled building at 610 Spruce Street for much larger quarters, anticipating the eventual need to take on partners.

The support from the two other attorneys she is joining was a big factor in Cannizzaro’s decision to leave her solo practice in Kalamazoo. “I can bounce around ideas with someone close by,” she said. “I actually started my professional career as a veterinarian, first at Denney Veterinary Service in Vicksburg, then at the Sprinkle Road Veterinary Clinic in Kalamazoo, and then I decided to do something different.

“I like variety so I went back to school at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, which is now part of Western Michigan University.” Her practice centers on probate law, with a focus on estate administration, guardianships, conservatorships, and assisting clients with mental illness or developmental disabilities. “I look out for people’s best interests,” she said.

Horne loves researching a project and has jumped headlong into municipal government issues and real estate law. He works closely with the village of Vicksburg’s planning commission on ordinance writing and researching. A big challenge recently was the work he did for the village on The Mill Planned Unit Development (PUD).

Grossman’s work now concentrates in real estate and agricultural law in conjunction with estate and trust planning and administration for area residents.

“We’re looking forward to continued growth in Vicksburg,” they all say in one way or another, about working together.

Concert Pianist Originally from Vicksburg to Play at Carnegie Hall

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Pianist John C. Carpenter.

Vicksburg native John C. Carpenter, a virtuoso pianist living in the Cincinnati suburb of Colerain, has won first prize in the Artist/Pro Division of the BMTG Intercontinental Piano Competition 2018. He will perform in a winners’ concert at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Auditorium in New York.

He will perform on his 65th birthday.

Carpenter grew up on Barton Lake and graduated from Vicksburg High. He was deeply involved in the music program while growing up and also wrote for the Vicksburg Commercial.

The winners were selected in two video rounds from among 140 competitors living in 15 countries and six continents. Carpenter recorded his videos at Mother of God Church in Covington, KY where he is an organist.

Music in the first round was from the standard piano repertoire. The second round included pieces by living composers. Carpenter teaches privately in his home studio, the True Virtuoso Piano Studio, and also at Arts Connect, and an arts center in Springfield along with his wife, Suzanne. He has a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music.

In the past three years he has played with the Dayton Philharmonic, in concerts in Los Angeles and on WAIF Radio, where he discusses empowerment and community development.

Carpenter returned to competitive playing after a long hiatus in which he worked in retail.

The Rally Call of the Schoolcraft Community

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The field was cleaned up just in time for the football players to get dirty.

By Mark Blentlinger

Overnight on November 10, the football field in Schoolcraft was blanketed with just over five inches of snow. The Schoolcraft Eagles football team would be facing the Montague Wildcats at 1 p.m. on Saturday for the Regional championship game and a chance to play on, with hopes of making it to Ford Field the day after Thanksgiving.

The Schoolcraft field crew knew what had to be done. At 6 a.m. the clean-up started. The call went out for anyone willing to help and to bring shovels, snow blowers and high-powered leaf blowers.

The call was answered. Community residents, parents of players, farmers and businesses showed up to do whatever they could. They did an amazing job of clearing the field by game time, according to Athletic Director Jeff Clark. All of the icy snow had been removed and piled high along the sidelines. Owners of Pine View Golf Course showed up with a tractor, pulling a huge leaf blower to help loosen the remaining ice. J & J Farms brought in heaters to be used on the Eagles sideline to help keep players and coaches warm.

Every single one of the volunteers deserve a huge thank you, Clark said. He credits the following and hopes that no one was forgotten. But in case any contributor was left out, he said, “Please forgive and know your help was deeply appreciated.” His list: Matt and Marc Fox, Wendy Fox, Jennifer Gottschalk, Jason Walther, Wade Rutkoskie, Kristin Flynn, David Knowlton, Michelle Hamlin, Jason Crouch, Jeff VanderWiere, Pat Wujkowski, Jason and Josh Jager, Jeff Clark, Bret and Teri Blalock, Lori Hart, Nick Perez, Eric McGehee, Tim Pastol, Dan and Jack Devries and were all there to help.