Shoveling snow during the drab late winter days inspired Brian Garcia to spread around a little sunshine in Manistee last March.
Garcia used the website Kickstarter to rally 80 backers, funding the first-ever Spring and All Festival at the historic Ramsdell Theatre.
Now, he’s about ready to launch round two on March 22.
“I wanted a way to bring people together … to honor the community’s hard work at keeping Manistee alive,” Garcia said about the event, which celebrates the arts through music. “Live music is emotional and inspiring.”
Garcia said he was initially inspired by “The Manistee River Song” by Michigan native Jim Crockett and “Spring and All” by folk singer Greg Brown.
“Both are music heroes, and their songs became the vehicle for the festival,” he said. “Music has got me through a lot of tough times, and helped celebrate good times too. That’s what I hope this festival does for people, and why it’s so powerful to me.”
The festival’s underlying mission is to bring the Manistee arts community together.
“Having musicians, organizations, and businesses all at the Ramsdell is what we are all about,” said Michael Terry, executive director for the 111-year-old theatre.
“It’s a place for people and artists to interact with each other. Our mission is to provide meaningful and memorable life experiences through the arts and community.”
And that’s just what Garcia and his festival hope to do.
In addition to the music, there will be exhibits in the theatre’s Grand Ballroom that feature canoe builders, artisans, photographers, painters, wildlife experts, local conservation groups, and Manistee National Forest Service representatives – even Smokey the Bear.
“Lake Michigan, the Manistee River and the surrounding forests are part of what makes us and this area unique,” Terry said. “The exhibits and the music celebrate those who work to preserve these natural resources, and help make our community sustainable.”
Admission to the Ballroom is free to all, and local food resources will be on site, too, at the Spring and All Food and Beverage Garden, a farmer’s market featuring local Michigan foods from regional farms, including soups, salads, and sandwiches, plus a selection of non-alcoholic beverages.
The musical performances kick off at noon with Jim Crockett appearing first, performing “The Manistee River Song.”
Following Crockett is Goodboy! featuring Patrick Niemisto, Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellies; then Australian musician Harper; with local musicians on stage from 5 to 6:30pm.
Michigan-born Drew Nelson, an Americana/roots rock storyteller, follows; then Lansing band Lincoln County Express, a roots and blues outfit featuring Jen Sygit and Sam Corbin, goes on.
“There will be live music in every corner of the Ramsdell as people ‘busk’ in hallways and stairwells,” Garcia said. “You won’t be able to go anywhere in the Ramsdell without hearing live music.”
The festival is expected to end at 9pm with the day’s final concert, Joshua Davis and Friends.
“Davis’ show will be a great way to end a day filled with great music,” Terry said. “And I’m looking forward to helping create an environment and event in which people can enjoy and feel welcomed. That’s what I like about my job.”
Garcia said he’s looking forward to shining a light on his community theater, while seeing new and familiar faces come and enjoy the arts.
“What will also make this event meaningful to me is seeing all the diverse parts of our community come together and celebrate,” he said. “There are no strangers in this town – that’s the feeling here. Whether you were born and raised here, or just arrived today, you are part of Manistee.”
Manistee’s Spring and All Festival will take place at the Ramsdell Theatre on Sat., March 22. Doors open at 11:30am. Tickets are $15 in advance/$20 at the door, available at MyNorthTickets at (800) 836-0717 and online at ramsdelltheatre.org.