It’s the kind of day dreamed up by the Grass River Natural Area’s new executive director as a fundraiser for the nonprofit preserve and its operating expenses.
Haley Breniser, an MSU grad and Michigan native, took the helm at Grass River last fall.
A mosaic of habitats that lie within the GRNA’s 1,443 acres: Deciduous and mixed forest, upland meadow, cedar swamp, and riverine habitat are all represented.
“The plant and animal species associated with this mosaic play an important role in the integrity of the greater Grand Traverse Bay Watershed,” Breniser said.
In order to keep that special aura, the area’s $200,000 annual budget needed a boost to help pay for “immediate needs” like a new trail and interpretive signage, plus equipment for the preserve’s stewardship practices, like water quality testing, invasive species control, and trail maintenance.
“The GRNA really needs support from both individuals and foundations in order to function at our full potential,” she said.
And that’s where the dance on the shores of Torch Lake comes in.
The concert fundraiser is one of the highlights of GRNA’s summer.
Officially called The Annual Grass River Natural Area Benefit Dance, the event will take place at the Alden Depot Park.
Five-piece Lansing band Steppin’ In It will provide what Breniser called “an awesome mix” of blues, bluegrass, funk, zydeco, and jazz.
“I remember seeing them in concert while going to school,” she said. “They have incredible talent and energy.”
The Up North Brass Quintet will serve as opening act. Coney Island style hotdogs and beverages from Short’s Brewery will also be available.
Just make sure you don’t forget your dancing shoes.
“Events like this give me the opportunity to get to know the people who have made the preserve what it is today,” Breniser said. “This is a very fun way to support the GRNA.”
The GRNA holds other fundraising events throughout the year, too. The Flower Fundraiser, Spring Fling Dinner, and the thoughtful Tribute Stone Fund are the most popular, the latter giving people the opportunity to donate an engraved garden path stone in memory of someone special.
Seven miles of trails in all, including boardwalks, are available to those who want to explore the GRNA’s lands. And a new education center was built in 2011 to help educate visitors about the natural world.
It’s all part of the GRNA’s ultimate goal: to protect those 1,443 acres through land management and education.
“We are essentially guarding an important place for the ecological health of our community,” Breniser said.
The Annual Grass River Natural Area Benefit Dance will take place June 28. Tickets are $15 in advance/$18 at the door, available online at grassriver.org. You can also donate to the preserve any time on their website, or by mailing a donation to their office at Grass River Natural Area, Inc., P.O. Box 231, Bellaire, MI, 49615.