Cottage & Lakefront Living Shows Heralding Tradition

Screen doors slamming, flitting fireflies, crickets, croquet and sunset walks along the lake — all sweet slices of Michigan’s legacy cottage lifestyle — are served (at least in spirit) before the season even starts. Photography courtesy Thinkstock

FlowersAs spring buds begin to bloom, thoughts turn to pulling sheets off furniture, returning chairs to their perches on the porch and readying docks for freshwater fun. To help prepare for the upcoming season, Grand Rapids-based ShowSpan Inc. presents its annual Cottage & Lakefront Living Shows at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi on Feb. 26-Mar. 1 and at DeVos Place in downtown GR, Mar. 27-29.

Lakefront living collageThese shows are tailored for anyone looking to buy, build or enjoy a cottage or lakefront home: Builders offer insights into new concepts, Realtors spotlight properties available for purchase, landscapers showcase unique layouts and designers provide tips on decorating both interior and exterior spaces, among an array of other vendors offering products and services suited to enhancing vacation fun.

Door knockerRecent cottage trends include outdoor kitchens and living spaces, which allow for more community-focused gatherings; repurposing furniture and other second-hand materials into rustic design elements; and drawing inspiration from the local, natural environment — with items like Petoskey stones, birch trees, driftwood and beach glass.

Guests to this year’s shows will be able to savor a taste of cottage life via a full-size retreat — or two — slated to be constructed inside each venue. In the “Cottage Living Center,” visitors can also relax in a comfy chair, work on a group jigsaw puzzle, check out a summer reading list and pin their own cottage sites on a map.

BeachThe “Weekend Project Center” invites attendees to learn hands-on a simple home project designed to be completed over the course of a couple days.  More than 36 yards of sand are also hauled in to create an indoor beach, perfect for castle building with “Sand Pirates” Janet and Kirk Schrader.

Door knockerOther favorite features include a “Woods & Water Photo Contest,” wooden boat building demonstrations, vintage boat display, fishing simulator, “Ask the Cottage Fisherman” presentations and a “Cottage for Sale / Rent” board.

Beyond these top stops, more than 300 exhibitors aligned in aisle after aisle shares everything from boats and docks to vacation services and financing. An expanded Lakefront Marketplace and Cottage Fine Art Show are among 2015’s highlights, too, creating plenty of extra opportunities to uncover new accessories for the cottage, porch, patio and yard.

Throughout the shows’ durations, free seminars targeting topics such as cottage gardening, paddling excursions, birding, photography and cottage succession planning are also planned. For more details about each show, including hours and ticket prices, visit or call (800) 328-6550.

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