Summer events season starts early in Greater Lansing


It’s not officially summertime yet, but for Greater Lansing residents, this weekend kicks off a packed schedule of summer events. From art to music to general merriment, the following three festivals offer a little something for everyone.

East Lansing Art Festival

East Lansing Art Festival director Heather Majano said she’d been attending the festival as a patron since 2006 before taking the reins in 2020.

“I went to MSU for undergrad, so the festival was kind of ingrained in me. I think it’s the same for a lot of the community,” she said.

The 61st annual East Lansing Art Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday (May 18) and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday (May 19). The festivities will encompass a stretch of Albert Avenue in downtown East Lansing bordered by Grove and Bailey streets. A strip of M.A.C. Avenue, running south from Albert Avenue to Grand Avenue, will provide what Majano described as a “connecting arm” to Michigan State University’s spring arts and crafts show that’s happening at the same time.

This year’s roster features 175 artists — 30 more than last year, according to Majano. Their work spans 18 categories, including ceramics, drawings, digital media, sculptures, photography and jewelry.

“There are lots of different types of art to see and a lot of things to choose from,” Majano said.

Each day will also include five live performances. The East Lansing High School Jazz Band, Migiziikwe Eagle Spirit Dancer, flow arts group Flames ‘N Dames, cover band Mixed Flavors and world music trio Whorled will take the stage on Saturday, while magician Eugene Clark, the Greater Lansing Ballet Co., the Habibi Dancers, progressive rock band Forge the Sun and folk group the Wild Honey Collective are booked for Sunday.

“We have dancers, we have singers, we have magic — a little bit of everything,” Majano said.

There will also be a handful of art demonstrations at Fountain Square, including indigo dying with Seams Fabric on Saturday.

“If you have a piece of clothing, a tablecloth or anything else that’s super faded or stained that you were going to throw out, you can put it in the dye vat, and you’ll have a whole new outfit to wear,” Majano said.

Seams will also offer the opportunity to contribute to a community quilt.

“They’ll give you a quick tutorial on how to use a sewing machine, and then you can add some of your own fabric to the quilt,” Majano said. “Then, on Sunday, Delphi Glass is going to do a glass mosaic with the community. You’ll make your own little piece, and they’ll add it to a bigger piece of work.”

517 Day

Now in its eighth year, the two-day 517 Day celebration continues its goal of highlighting everything that’s great about Greater Lansing — from the food to the art, music, culture and everything in between.

The first day of festivities will run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday (May 17) at Lansing Shuffle. Attendees can expect dozens of regional vendors, plus performances by East Lansing’s School of Rock House Band, dance studio Dancing with the Nordés, post-2000s cover band JP & the Energy and DJ Metro Melik, or Melik Brown, who’s also the event organizer.

Brown said the inaugural 517 Day celebration took place at the former Lansing City Market, now Lansing Shuffle. The multi-vendor food and entertainment hall, which opened in January 2023, also hosted last year’s event.

“That partnership means a lot to me. Having it back at the same space where 517 Day started, especially because of the rejuvenation of that space, is absolutely fantastic,” Brown said. “I consider that patio the best sunset view in Lansing.”

Saturday (May 18) will feature the second annual Best of Lansing Festival, presented by Lansing 5:01 and City Pulse. The free, family-friendly event will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the Capitol lawn, where organizers will set up inflatables, obstacle courses and booths for more than 100 vendors, including a number of City Pulse’s Top of the Town winners.

The festival will also include performances by classic-rock cover group Black Barn Band, ‘80s cover band Starfarm, All of the Above Hip Hop Academy, hip-hop artist Sean Mic and Everett Dance.

Brown encourages attendees to check out the shops along South Washington Square, many of which plan to offer promotions and activities in coordination with the festival.

Brown said Lansing 5:01 predicts a turnout of about 3,500 people on Saturday.

“We’ll have fun stuff for the kids to do on the Capitol lawn. So, we get to hang out, and the kids get to play. It’s a safe space, and adults can drink a beer and listen to great music,” he said. “With all the great vendors, activities and the variety of acts we have, what else could you want for nothing?”

Nu-metal bands Taproot (left) and Nonpoint will co-headline the inaugural Rock Lansing music festival on Saturday (May 18) at Adado Riverfront Park
Nu-metal bands Taproot (left) and Nonpoint will co-headline the inaugural Rock Lansing music festival on Saturday (May 18) at Adado Riverfront Park
Rock Lansing music festival

Organized by Paul Starr and Alex Nieninger, the inaugural Rock Lansing music festival runs from 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday (May 18) at Adado Riverfront Park. The 11 performances will be split across two stages.

On the main stage, the day starts with Flint-based roots-rock band Five ‘N’ Dime Poets, followed by Nashville-based blues-rock trio Patty PerShayla & the Mayhaps, Maryland-based hard-rock act Any Given Sin and Detroit-based alt-metal band Eva Under Fire.

“Eva Under Fire are from Detroit, but they’re kind of breaking now,” Starr said. “I reached out to Any Given Sin because I heard them on Spotify, and I was like, ‘Holy crap, this guy’s voice is powerful.’”

The main stage co-headliners are Nonpoint, a nu-metal band from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Taproot, an Ann Arbor-based band of the same genre.

“Booking Taproot just made a lot of sense to us. They came out with an album last year, and they’re from Ann Arbor, so they fit well,” Starr said. “It also made sense to get Nonpoint to do a co-headliner spot along with Taproot.”

The second stage lineup features three Lansing-based groups, JP & The Energy, alternative metal band Heartsick and metalcore band Of Virtue, as well as Grand Rapids-based blues-rock duo Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish and Port Huron-based Americana-rock  band Gasoline Gypsies.

Starr said it was “a big deal to get Of Virtue.”

“They’re from Lansing, and they put out an album last year, which, from start to finish, was great. I think people are going to be blown away by them,” he said.

The festival will also offer food and drinks from Maria’s Taco Truck, Big Cheezy Grill, J&C Concessions, Sweet and Sticky BBQ, Bell’s Brewery, New Belgium and Long Drink.

While the artists are collectively classified under the rock genre, Starr noted that attendees can expect a variety of musical chops.

“We’re pretty much a hard-rock festival. I would say that we go from rockabilly to metal. The only thing we’re never going to do is death metal because I just can’t stand those vocals,” he said.


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