2018 Water Festival

Eighth Annual Benzie County Water Festival

Land Meets Water

A community water celebration during the week of February 13-18, 2018

This year, the Benzie County Water Festival’s theme is “Land Meets Water” relating water issues to land-use practices. How do our yards, farms, roads, and bridges affect the natural world around us, specifically our bountiful lakes, streams, and rivers here in Benzie County? We’ll be talking about lawns, native plants, permaculture run-off, and more! (Because nobody wants Crystal Lake to end up looking like Lake Erie, right?!)

Events will take place at multiple Benzie County venues throughout the week of February 13-18, 2018. The Benzie Community Water Council (BCWC) is the nonprofit that puts on the festival each year. Also, for the fourth year in a row, BCWC plans to give a scholarship for a Benzie County student to attend the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute. What better way to promote environmental stewardship and water appreciation than to make the education of our local youth for a career in these fields more accessible and attainable?

To reach the youth of Benzie County, we are partnering with COGNiTiON in Beulah this year. COGNiTiON will host a week of water-related experiences, including a virtual reality water workshop on Tuesday, February 13, from 3:15-5:15 p.m. Middle and high school students will have the opportunity to explore an ocean habitat and gather information on species that are affected by human impact through the VR. There will also be an art element for the students while they wait for their turn with the VR. During COGNiTiON’s open hours of the festival week — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday — there will be a different water activity, experiment, and art element each day, such as building a K’NEX hydra car; exploring the water cycle, waves, and currents; investigating how different animals relate to water; and looking at water samples under the microscope. (There are limited spots available for the VR workshop, so registration and pricing details can be found on discovercognition.org and facebook.com/discovercognition. All regular admission events, typically $4/person/day, will be half off during the Water Festival week, and the center is offering a free trial of the after-school/drop-off program “MidWay,” for 4-6th graders.)

“Water is a resource that we truly take for granted. It is directly connected to how are bodies are built, our way of life, the beautiful environment we live in, and especially our survival,” says Kimmee Wenkel, director at COGNiTiON. “There are so many wonderful things to discover about water — we wouldn’t want to miss out on this opportunity to explore and celebrate water with our community!”

Also for the kids, on Saturday at the Benzonia Public Library from 12-2:30pm, build your own boat, watercraft or sea creature from Legos! Participants receive a small Lego prize. Legos will be provided; you just bring the creativity.

On Tuesday, February 13, beginning at 6 p.m., there will be a Potluck & Discussion at Grow Benzie. The panel discussion will be facilitated by Ed Hoogterp, Benzie County’s drain commissioner and former president of the Crystal Lake & Watershed Association. The panelists will include: Chad Van Tol (Cold Creek Permaculture), Carolyn Thayer (Designs In Bloom and Plant It Wild), Kimberly Balke (Conservation Resource Alliance), and Jim Grabowski (Upland Meadows Landscaping). The talk will be focused on the ways in which residents, farmers, businesses, and local governments can reduce runoff and sedimentation in our rivers, lakes, and streams.

Celebrating water in its wintry form is on the agenda for earlier in the morning of Saturday, February 17. Registration for the eighth annual Betsie Bay Frozen 5k begins at 8:30 a.m. at the American Legion Hall on Main Street in Frankfort. Runners will be shuttled to the 10 a.m. start of the race at the scenic Elberta lookout and then will run back to downtown Frankfort along the beautiful Betsie Bay. An awards ceremony will follow; all runners get a shirt and a medal with their registration fee, while top male and female finishers in each age group get a special prize. Additionally, with the help of more than 50 community business sponsors, close to $2,000 in raffled prizes will be given out. The 5k is open to runners and walkers of all ages and is dog friendly. It’s a great way to get the whole family out and about during the snowy February days while supporting great causes – proceeds will benefit local community initiatives, including BCWC’s scholarship fund and future Benzie County Water Festivals. Register online for $20 https://events.bytepro.net/betsie-bay by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, February 14, or for $25 in-person the day of the race.

“It’s a great event to look forward to in the doldrums of winter, and it’s fun for the whole family,” runner Andrea Maxwell says of the Betsie Bay Frozen 5k. “The crowd is not overwhelming, and the location is gorgeous!”

Later in the day, head down to Stormcloud Brewing Company, which will be hosting “Learn-to-Curl” sessions in the afternoon.

Closing out the weekend’s festivities on Sunday morning, a few religious affiliations will be talking about the importance of water in scripture, from baptism to walking on water to turning water into wine.

“The word ‘water’ appears about 400 times in the Bible, give or take 50 times, given the different translations,” explains Dinah Haag, of First Congregational Church of Frankfort, who is planning to give a sermon on water on Sunday, February 18.

BCWC is always looking for more sponsors and volunteers. If you are interested in helping, send an email to aubreyannparker@gmail.com and for more information, visit www.Water-Festival.org or find us at facebook.com/BenzieCountyWaterFestival on Facebook.