Category Archives: Community

Hair Mania Band Headlines Taste of Vicksburg

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Jim Halladay on the left is the soloist for Hair Mania that will appear at the Taste of Vicksburg. He is accompanied by Paxton Olney and Lloyd Wallace.

By Sue Moore

The Taste of Vicksburg organizing committee has brought back by popular demand its headliner band from last year, Hair Mania. “Their music was great and they have a big following,” said Mandy Miller, the Chamber of Commerce’s event coordinator. “Plus, two of their band members are local Vicksburg boys who have made good,” Miller said.

Jim Halladay is the lead singer from Vicksburg and Paxton Olney, the bass guitarist, lives at Long Lake. They will play from 7 to 11 p.m. on a stage at the corner of Main and Prairie Streets in downtown Vicksburg. The Taste of Vicksburg opens for food vendors from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 13 with Jaspare’s Pizza and Vickers planning to serve food until closing time.

Hair Mania plays music from the 80s and are great entertainers as well, sporting long hair or wigs as part of their attire. They even bring their own band of followers from the many places they have played across Michigan. That includes Halladay’s mom, Susane and wife Chris, who are granted front row seats while most others in the audience like to stand and move with the music.

The Chamber has been serving up the Taste of Vicksburg for eight years to bring people into the community on a warm summer evening. In 2018 they sold more beer than ever before even though the event is not viewed as a fundraiser. Miller Lite, Miller High Life and Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy will be served in the beer tent located on S. Main Street. Vickers, Jaspare’s, Main Street Pub and the Hide-A-Way are some participating food vendors.

There will be three entrances to the roped-off area downtown at the corner of Washington and S. Main Street and on each end of east and west Prairie Streets in order to cut down on the waiting in line time for guests, according to Miller. Parking is available in back of the S. Main street stores and on both ends of Prairie Street.

Classes Offered for Summer of Fun and Learning

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Vic Simmons demonstrated his artistic abilities in front of the new VCAC showroom.

By Deb Christiansen

The Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center has a summer of art fun planned at its new location on 105 S. Main Street in Vicksburg, with classes on art, writing, quilting, felting and small pottery.

Running from July 8 through July 12, Junior Arts Day Camp, $130 is open to kids ages 8 – 12. This camp will be at the Vicksburg Community Center.

Starting July 18, The Art of Memoir, $195 member/$225 non-member. Author and Instructor Leeanne Seaver, M.A. leads this six-session (one a month for six months) writing class.

Starting July 20, Quilt Finishing: Ideas and Techniques, $15 member/$20 non-member. Instructor quilter, Kirk Bergland.

Starting July 20, Introduction to Felting: Painting with Wool, $40 member/$45 non-member. Instructor fiber artist, Holly Jensen.

Starting August 26, Handmade Pottery: Buttons & Beads, $30 member/$35 non-member. Instructor is celebrated local potter Lisa Beams.

Check for full information about these upcoming classes or call (269) 200-2223.

Become a member of the VCAC. $40/year for Individuals, $32/year for seniors and students, $70 for households. Go to or call (269) 200-2223 for more information on how to join.

New Theatre Company for Summer Classes and Camps

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Melissa Sparks, center.

By Sue Moore

Melissa Sparks has started her own theater company, Prism. She’s organizing an inaugural year of camps and classes in August at the Vicksburg Community Center. “It’s about growing, not just creatively, but also growing the students’ minds and hearts to develop into their multifaceted selves. Like a prism that reflects the many colors within light, they will discover the many colors of their character,” she said.

Sparks has taught, choreographed and directed theater and music throughout Kalamazoo County. During the school year, she is the director/choreographer for Vicksburg Community Schools’ International Thespian Society and theater program; an educator for Education for the Arts Advanced Musical Theatre course; and the co-director/co-instructor for the Direct Encounter with the Arts program at Western Michigan University.

Each class runs for one week, and classes run between July 29 and August 16. Classes for students age 7-14 include: Hip Hop Shakespeare, Stage Combat, Playwriting, Directing, Improvisation, Directing, Musical Theatre, Technical Theatre, and Tap Dance.
In addition to classes for 7-14-year-old students, Prism also offers extra classes in early evenings for 4-6-year-old participants, involving fairy tales, dinosaurs, and creative writing as well as classes for ages 15-Adult in improvisation, stage makeup and tap dance.

“I’m trying to offer something different from anything else I’ve seen. I believe the arts are such an incredible teaching tool that help us grow as human beings. All of my summer classes and camps are tied into academics, but also to character qualities that we want our youth to learn to become the best versions of themselves,” Sparks said. “Hopefully they leave as a better human being so they can shine a light in this world. At least, that’s the goal.”

Sparks freelances as a director, music director and choreographer for theaters such as the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, Farmer’s Alley Theatre, Portage Central High School, Center Stage Theatre, and more. She brings her theater degrees, extensive career in the arts, and education experience to this exciting new theater company. “Through Prism Performing Arts, I hope we both inspire people’s passion for the performing arts, but more importantly, we inspire them to become better versions of themselves so they can go out and be a light in the world,” she said.

Prism is offering a discount for students who participate in all three weeks of classes and camps. For further information go to

B & B is a Summer Highlight in Vicksburg

By Sue Moore

For 46 years, Vicksburg area residents and their guests have been treated to the Lions Club’s Summer Festival, the B & B – beer and bratwurst. It’s held at the community pavilion on N. Richardson Street.

It’s a swinging time for those who like to compete in the cornhole and horseshoe pitching tourneys. Folks can also enjoy good beer, camaraderie and rocking bands each night on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the last weekend in July. This year, that’s on July 25, 26 and 27..

On Thursday night, after kid’s activities end at 8 p.m., the Lions Club is hosting a “Hoedown for Danny” an old friend and musician with the JAG band that often played for the festival. Danny Castle unfortunately passed away on February 24, 2019 and was a long-time friend of the Lions Club. The music event is being hosted by the JAG Band. Band members Dave Reno and Toby Hardy are heading up the Hoedown for Danny. They are also members of the Lions Club. “We expect to have well over a dozen musicians honor Danny on the B & B stage Thursday evening,” Brett Grossman, one of the organizers said.

Ahead of that, Kids’ Night goes from 5 until 8 p.m. on Thursday. It will feature the usual activities of games, food discounts, vision screening by KidSight and lots of prizes for the contestants. Local artist Bryce Cooley will draw caricatures at no cost to attendees.  Cooley is the grandson of the longest serving active member of Vicksburg Lions Club, Bob Merrill.

Last year, winners of the 7th Annual Cornhole Tournament were Ray Miller and Michael Boyd, who beat out 90 others.  The 8th annual kicks off at 6 p.m. on Friday evening. Other than last year’s winners, it is a random draw, double-elimination, $10 entry fee and a minimum of 18 years of age. The first 100 to sign up are in. Text or call Ryan Bright at 269-217-7880 to get your name on the list before it’s too late.

The winners of the 12th Annual Horseshoe Tournament in 2018 were again Bob Gettys and Bryan Wolthuis.  This was their second year in a row and this time they beat out 86 others in what was the largest (and longest) tournament to date.  Much like cornhole, this is a random draw, double-elimination, $10 entry fee event starting at 11 a.m. Saturday morning following the alumni breakfast. Entrants can contact Grossman to sign up at 269-649-3000.

The Backroads Band plays its classic and modern rock on Friday night, beginning at 8:30 p.m. On Saturday, DC-90 is featured beginning at 9 p.m. Each day, the B & B is open for lunch and dinner with its famous bratwurst and sauerkraut combo, from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Movie Musical Cabaret Fundraiser for Vicksburg Theatre

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Cabaret singers perform during their 2018 fundraising show at the Community Pavilion.

A beautiful evening, a lovely outdoor venue, a full stomach, and music in the air. Could anything be better? The Vicksburg High School Theatre program would love for you to come see for yourself.

On Wednesday, July 17, students will be putting on “It’s a Movie Musical Cabaret” at the Vicksburg Community Pavilion on Richardson Street. The evening will feature an array of songs from movie musicals, performed by current Vicksburg theater students and alumni, and will also spotlight a few cuts from the shows which will be performed at the Vicksburg Performing Arts Center as a part of the district’s 2019-20 season. Part of the allure of the evening in recent years has also been its status as the formal announcement of the following season’s selections.

This is the sixth year for the event, and the third at the pavilion.

“We’re really excited with the songs we’ve chosen, and the kids have worked really hard for this,” said Director Melissa Sparks. “This is always a fun event for the community, and a great fundraiser for us.”

Tickets are $10, which includes dinner at the Pavilion. Seating begins at 6 p.m., and the show begins at 6:30. Half the profits from the event will help fund the season’s performances. For further information, contact

Speaker Series Shines Spotlight on Three Rivers Women

The yellow Township Hall on the grounds of the Historic Village is the venue for the Historical Society’s speaker series in 2019.

The Vicksburg Historical Society’s July speaker will be Rebecca Shank, head of Abiel Fellows Chapter of Three Rivers DAR and chair of Sue Silliman House.  She will be presenting “The League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen of Three Rivers,” at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 28 in the yellow Township Hall building on the grounds of the Historic Village.

She will tell stories and relate primary sources of “four ladies from the 1800s who didn’t stand around and wait to be told they could be somebody.” They are Lucy Fellows Andrews, attorney, founder of the DAR Chapter; Dr. Blanche Haines, medical doctor and suffragette; Sue Silliman, founder of Three Rivers Carnegie Library, historian, author and painter in Three Rivers; and Ruth Hoppin, internationally acclaimed biologist and educator.

Her talk is a continuation of the speaker series, sponsored by the Historical Society with an eye toward presenting interesting historical programs from May through November of 2019. The public is encouraged to attend. The underwriter for the series is Consumers Energy Company.

Tournament of Writers Award Winners Announced

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There were many participants and winners in the 2019 Tournament of Writers contest. They are pictured here with their citations. Photo by Bill Christiansen.

Tragedy and comedy characterized the two grand prize winners of this year’s Tournament of Writers in Schoolcraft, a local writing contest for all ages with a valid library card. Marilyn Jones of Schoolcraft received top honors for “Neatness Counts,” a recounting of a tragedy. Christine Webb of Kalamazoo received top honors for the comedic “The First (and Last) Day I Worked at McDonald’s.” The Director’s Award went to Christine Webb, a teacher who, in addition to being an award-winning author herself, mentors her students for this contest.

Awards were presented May 20 at the Schoolcraft Community Library. All entries will be published in Small Town Anthology V, to be released later this month. The book will be dedicated to Betty Braymer, a Vicksburg author who passed away earlier this year. The official book signing and launch for the book will be at R & R Weddings and Events on September 17 from 6 to 8 pm., along with author interviews and photo opportunities. Tournament authors are invited to bring in their other works. This event is free and open to the public. Light snacks and beverages will be available.

This is a family-friendly event with no alcohol served. It is sponsored by Jack Scobey Action Fund and Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center. For more information about this event and next year’s Tournament, go to, contact Deb Christiansen at 269-679-5795 or email her at

Prize Winners: First Prize Junior Fiction, Maya Grossman, Number 710; First Prize Junior Poem, Allie Spencer, Sweet Willow; First Prize Teen Fiction, Kadrian Barnett, The Crowning; First Prize Teen Poem, Rachel Hostetler, YOU CAN.

First Prize Adult Fiction, Joshua Johnson, Master Bill; First Prize Adult Poem, Christine Webb, Teacher Life; First Prize Graphic Novel, Thomas Mills, Parallax; First Prize Senior Fiction, Rann Murray, The Saddest Gift; First Prize Senior Non Fiction, Kathleen Oswalt-Forsythe, A Hometown Surprise; First Prize Senior Non Fiction, Krista Ragotzy, Pomander Balls; First Prize Senior Poem, Carol Braymer, Twins; First Prize Senior Poem, Mark Stucky, Gilded Crosses?

First Prize Super Senior Fiction, Barbara Vortman, Pancake Pandemonium; The Library; First Prize Super Senior Non Fiction, Allen Parfitt, Olympia Brown Universalist Minister; First Prize Super Senior Poem, Marilyn Jones, Behind The Mask; Grand Prize, Marilyn Jones, Neatness Counts; Grand Prize, Christine Webb, The First (and Last) Day I Worked at McDonald’s; Director’s Award, Christine Webb.