Reimagined Mackenzies Bakery opens in Vicksburg

The wait is over for baked-good lovers across Southwest Michigan who, for a year, have gone without their favorite artisanal products from the former MacKenzie’s Bakery in Kalamazoo.

While the recipes, smells and even some staff will be the same, patrons will now find a reimagined Mackenzies in historic downtown Vicksburg. Vicksburg native Chris Moore purchased the former Kalamazoo bakery almost one year ago to the date of the April 14 grand opening.

In addition to the multi-year renovation of the former paper mill on the village’s west end, Moore is pursuing some smaller projects in Vicksburg that pair well with the Mill’s destination goals.

Moore transformed the 1,700-square-foot space at 103 E. Prairie Street into a charming bakery storefront. The intent is to attract more people to the historic downtown area with desirable products while showing visitors the vision to revitalize shuttered spaces into aesthetically pleasing business opportunities that will benefit the village for years to come.

Mackenzies Bakery offers a walk-in storefront where patrons can grab scratch-baked breads, including the popular Pretzel, Struan, Crispy Italian, and Paesano, as well as a selection of cookies, muffins, and beverages. Plans are included for a wholesale operation.

The bakery is personal to Moore, who like many area residents in the 1960s remember Otto and Anna Kaak’s Country Maid Bakery on South Main Street. Moore recalls the sweet smells of the bakery and the many treats waiting for purchase behind the glass: cookies, sweet rolls, turnovers and “wedgies” were area favorites. Otto or Anna often placed a sample tea cookie in a young patron’s hand.

Moore’s wish is for future generations of children to enjoy bakery treats in a thriving downtown village. “I fondly remember walking to the bakery with Mike Oswalt when our moms were working on Water Over the Dam. We each had a quarter in hand and were excited to buy a turnover at the bakery,” said Moore. “My hope is that a visit to Mackenzies Bakery will create a new generation’s worth of memories for residents and visitors in our hometown.”

To ensure continuity through the transition, Moore engaged former owner John MacKenzie for consultation. “Chris Moore and his team have really captured the essence of a small-town bakery while incorporating modern functionality,” MacKenzie said after touring the nearly completed site in March. “The space has so much natural light and charm, along with the best baking oven in the industry. It just brings a smile to my face knowing the legacy continues with this Vicksburg location.”

In addition to engaging the former owner, Moore also hired two long-time MacKenzie’s employees to manage daily operations—General Manager Jill Younger and Head Baker Cris Najar.

The grand opening is a point of pride for Moore and his Vicksburg-based project teams, as the space was painstakingly renovated and, where possible, restored to its original and historic charm. The effort to restore the 103 building is part of a larger community-based endeavor to have the downtown area authorized on the National Register of Historic Places list.

“We’re very excited to open the doors to Mackenzies and show the community our commitment to restoring these wonderful downtown buildings while contributing to its vibrancy,” said Jackie Koney, chief operating officer of Paper City Development, Moore’s Vicksburg-based company. “Frederick Construction, our team, and so many other partners invested so much time to carefully design and build a space that will stand the test of time. We’re eager to get baking and bring smiles to the faces of everyone who walks through the doors!”

For hours, directions and additional information, visit their website: mackenziesbakery.com.

Tournament of Writers names winners

By Alisha Siebers, Executive Director, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center

The Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center has wrapped up the eighth season of the Tournament of Writers. This year’s competition drew 57 writers from a wide range of ages, competing for $1,200 in prizes.

The topic of escapism trended in this year’s entries, with many stories and poems about runaways, pirates, princesses, Vikings, space kittens, doppelgangers, and a whole kaleidoscope of monsters. Balancing this escapism were plenty of home-grown tales about wisdom gathered from everyday living. The grand prize went to Rick Chambers, of Portage, who wrote “Tuesday’s Tie,” a short story set in the Netherlands about a somewhat rigid man who wears a specific tie for each day of the week, until he mistakenly wears his Monday tie on Tuesday and discovers that he has traveled back in time one day.

The winners of the 2022 Tournament of Writers are:

Fiction: First Place, Hayden Moden (Junior Division), R.J. Robertson-DeGraaff (Young Adult Division), Dustin Colwell (Adult Division), and Rick Chambers (Senior Division). Second Place, Autumn Wyatt (Jr) tied with Brynn Hayman, Amanda Hamelink (YA), Ross Landers (A), and Jon Adams (Sr). Third Place, Harper Behrens (Jr), Sky Lester (YA), Aaron Kieffer (A), and Fred Zemlick (Sr).

Nonfiction: First Place, Finnegan Ross (Jr), Jacob Miller (YA), Christina Webb (A), and Cynthia Haas (Sr). Second Place, Lillian Ross (Jr), Ransom Biskie (YA), Ross Landers (A), and Jeanne Church (Sr), Third Place, Flora Najdowski (Jr), Kristin Youngs (A), and Mark Giacobone (Sr).

Poetry: First Place, Hayden Moden (Jr), Sydney Kaiser (YA), Kyle Johnson (A), and Jon Adams (Sr). Second Place, Lillian Ross (Jr), Hannah Laughery (YA), Hanna Owens (A), and Mark Giacobone (Sr).Third Place, Rhys Biskie (Jr), Ransom Biskie (YA) tied with Grace Flanagan, Simon Thalmann (A), and Jeanne Church (Sr).

Interested in participating next year or in purchasing the anthology of this year’s participants? Visit vicksburgarts.com/tournament-of-writers.

Community corner: Older Americans Month

By Sarah Cagney

May is Older Americans Month, a time to celebrate older adults, their stories, and the contributions they have made throughout their lifetimes. Older adults play vital, positive roles in our communities – as family members, friends, volunteers, and more.

Just as every person is unique, so too are how they age and how they choose to do it – and there is no “right” way. That’s why the theme for Older Americans Month (OAM) 2022 is Age My Way.

This special recognition provides an opportunity for our community to explore the many ways older adults can remain in their own home and be involved with their communities. By engaging and supporting all community members, we recognize that older adults play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks, and lives. Communities that encourage the contributions of older adults are stronger!

This year, South County Community Services is excited to celebrate OAM with our partners in the aging community. We are excited to build and promote partnerships with aging services networks. They play a critical role to ensure individuals have information available to access community resources for services, enabling all older adults to age with dignity in a safe environment. Many healthy aging programs exist that play a role in aging in place (emphasizing that what each person needs and prefers is unique). Collectively, we offer support to older adults and their caregivers in areas such as nutrition, social and emotional support, falls prevention, transportation, home safety, job training, and benefits enrollment.

Please join South County in strengthening our community and embrace aging by celebrating the ways in which older adults keep our communities vibrant!

Following are some ways you can help observe Older Americans Month:

Reach out to an older person (a friend, family member, neighbor, or colleague) and spend a couple minutes asking about their lives and experiences. If you can connect on a periodic basis, even better.

Help your older parents write their story or interview them for a video. Their stories and contributions help support and inspire, plus it’s a great way to learn things about your parents that you probably never knew and will become a legacy you will cherish forever!

Spend the day doing something meaningful with an older relative – choose a favorite childhood food item that they used to cook and make it together, spend the day watching movies, help organize their boxes of photos, use Google Maps or Google Earth to visit their old neighborhoods or their hometown – and make new memories while working together.

Help older adults connect with South County Community Services (649-2901) if they have questions about aging, need to ask about resources, or if they want to find opportunities to connect with others.

Learn more about OAM and discover additional ways you can celebrate the older adults in our community by visiting https://acl.gov/

Happy Older Americans Month to all!

Sarah Cagney is the Senior Outreach Coordinator for South County Community Services. She has a special place in her heart for helping seniors learn about aging resources and navigate assistance. She can be reached at 649-2901 ext. 7.

For more information on South County Community Services, please check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/southcountycs or visit our website.