Cedar Springs

All places are interesting in some way, I think. But some have peculiarities that others don’t. Cedar Springs, a town of 3500 or so 20 minutes north of Grand Rapids, has the Red Flannel Festival.

The festival goes back to 1936, a brutal winter during the Great Depression when a New York writer complained that there was no red flannel left in America to deal with the cold. The local newspaper in Cedar Spring responded that fancy New York City stores might not carry red flannel, but Cedar Spring merchants had plenty of it. Orders poured in from across the country. The town held the first festival in 1939 to take advantage of the publicity. Beyond the Red Flannel Festival, there are lots of interesting things to note about Cedar Springs.

One is difficult economic circumstances. I saw a bunch of stores and other small businesses that were temporarily or permanently closed. This is not unique to Cedar Springs or small towns in the Midwest, of course. But it was clear.

Difficult economic circumstances are not the whole story. The town has a branch of the American Legion for veterans. It has a noteworthy brewery, Cedar Springs Brewing Company (which also sells supplies to home brewers). It has some wonderful historic buildings, classic Midwestern architecture. Here’s a few examples–a consignment shop, a local bank, and a theater.

The thing that surprised me a little was the “hippie” streak in town. Here’s a few images that show what I mean. “Michiganja,” place that soon will be selling pot. A natural health and healing store, with everything from crystals and gems to essential oils. A couple of screen printing places and spirit shops (i.e., make and sell clothing related to local sports teams). A tattoo place (not pictured). Perhaps I should not be surprised. Even if small towns and the rural areas that support them tend to be conservative, conservatives also enjoy booze and pot and can be suspicious of conventional medicine and seek alternatives. And who doesn’t like a really boss tattoo!

As usual, I found a few places to make some interesting images with reflections. Here are two of the better ones.

The bakery you see reflected in the second image is a cool old building.

Finally, three random images. An old garage that seems to sell used stuff. Perhaps its a flea market more than garage today. A child’s wagon, sitting outside an antique shop. And a tiny, unassuming building. It’s not clear what it is, if it’s close, etc. But I somehow felt an affection for it, for all its modest, tiny practicality.

As the images reveal, it was a lovely warm, sunny, late summer day. I saw a few people with masks. Most were not wearing them. The brewery was hopping. I’m still worried about the Delta COVID-19 wave. It may have crested nationally, but not yet in Michigan. So, enjoy the weather, but be careful out there.

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