State Fare

When it comes to summer staples, these iconic tastes are synonymous with the Great Lakes State.

State Fair IllustrationBy Jaye Beeler

Pasty. Michigan’s signature Upper Peninsula sandwich is shaped like the letter “D” with crimping on one side, traditionally filled with beef, rutabaga, potato and onion, and — according to lore — fueled miners for a long day’s work. A for-sure favorite: Lawry’s Pasties in Ishpeming and Marquette (lawryspas “The same recipe, the same quality ingredients,” notes Peter Lawry, whose grandparents opened the Ishpeming café in 1946.

Courtesy Thinkstock

Smoked Whitefish Chowder. At Brown’s Fisheries Fish House in Paradise, this renowned soup is traditionally made with the catch of the day (face

Carlson’s Fisheries.  It’s the only remaining commercial fish shanty in Leland’s historic Fishtown, now overseen by the fifth generation of Carlsons working the actual waterfront. So fresh, the fish is cleaned and smoked before your very eyes (

The Chubby Mary.  Leave it to The Cove to shove an entire smoked chub and dill pickle into a Bloody Mary concoction. It’s worth the drive for the Instagram alone (the

Original Murdick's Fudge SweetBar Items
Original Murdick’s Fudge SweetBar Items – Photography courtesy Murdick’s Fudge

Murdicks fudgeMackinac Island Fudge. While Murdick’s Fudge has sweetened Michigan’s famed isle since the late 1800s, Ryba’s enticing display windows beckon stops inside two shops and JoAnn’s 29 flavors are among others inspiring this flavorful summer rite of passage (

Michigan Wine Country. It’s just plain fun to meander the Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas where Northern Michigan’s 45th parallel shares the same latitude as France’s Burgundy and Bordeaux. Start with Michigan’s top varietals — Riesling, Cabernet Franc and sparkling wines — but be sure to uncover others across the state, too (michi

Asparagus at farmers market
Photography by Dianne Carroll Burdick

Asparagus. National Asparagus Festival (June 12-14, celebrates Oceana County’s famous purple-tipped green spears. Only a couple other states outside of Michigan including California and Washington harvest a sizeable asparagus crop because it’s one of the costliest to produce, requiring lots of hands-on labor.

Cherries. Though Traverse City is the Cherry Capital of the World, Michigan’s cherry-growing territory extends down to Benton Harbor. The Great Lakes State produces 75 percent of the U.S. tart cherry and 20 percent of the sweet cherry crops each year. Celebrate at the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, starting on the Fourth of July (

Peaches. Credit Michigan State University’s peach breeding history in South Haven for creating the voluptuous Red Haven series, which just introduced a juicy new category. Revel in one of summer’s favorite fruits at the Coloma Glad-Peach Festival (July 31-Aug. 2, colomapeachfestcom).

Blueberries DC Burdick
Photography by Dianne Carroll Burdick

Blueberries. As the No. 1 producer of high-bush blueberries, South Haven glorifies two dozen varieties at its National Blueberry Festival (Aug. 6-9, with names like Bluecrop, Jersey, Elliott, Duke, Rubel and Bluejay that are harvested when they’re bursting with freshness.

Michigan Farmers Markets. Many of Michigan’s 339 farmers’ markets (we rank third in the country, according to the United States Department of Agriculture) can be found on the shoreline along lakes, rivers, piers and promenades — such as Grand Haven Farmers Market at Chinook Pier, Pentwater Farmers Market at the Village Green near Lake Michigan, Frankfort Friendly Farmers Market along the waterfront and the Vantage Point Farmers Markets in Port Huron. 

At the foot of the rivers St. Clair and Black, food and freighters deliciously converge with Vantage Point farmers market offering homegrown and handcrafted on Saturdays and Tuesdays (starting July 7) with 24 stalls. Uncover more of the season’s freshest farm-grown goodness at

Journalist Jaye Beeler resides in Grand Rapids.

Photography by Dianne Carroll Burdick;
Murdick’s Fudge/Bob Brodbeck

Facebook Comments