What is the Arts and Eats Tour?
Arts and Eats is a free self-driving tour of the back roads of Allegan, Barry, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, and Van Buren Counties. Partner organizations collaborate to bring you quality experiences in art, local food, and agriculture in those little, out-of-the-way places that beg to be discovered.
On the third weekend of October each year, we invite people to discover what rural Southwest Michigan has to offer. Visit with local artisans in their studios or see working farms featuring specialty food crops, fiber, and heritage animals. Should hunger strike, stop in at one of our local gems that serves food made with ingredients from area farms and producers. Grab a map and get going!
How does it work?
Take a look at the map and get going — it’s as easy as that! As Arts and Eats is completely self guided, there are no tickets or RSVPs. Grab a physical map at your first stop to guide the rest of your trip, or download our app (coming soon!) for a virtual map.
Artist sites: 10am-5pm
Other sites: Check individual sites
While Arts and Eats weekend is in October, many of our tour partners are open year round. Be sure to check participant websites or social media pages for current hours before visiting.
The idea grew out of and gained momentum through workshops offered by the Barry County Tourism Council. The tour expanded to the lake shore, partnering with the Allegan County Tourism Council in year two. Calhoun County was added in 2018. ARTS and EATS is planned and launched by the energy, donated time, and generosity of partner organizations including Michigan State University Extension, Mountain to Lake Creatives, and the Thornapple Arts Council. Art, food/drinks and farm sites on the tour contribute as partners as well.
We invite you to support the advertisers on the map and online–these are folks and organizations that support business connections and celebration of local and rural culture.
ARTS and EATS is modeled after a number of successful tours nationwide including the ones below. The intention is to connect ARTS and EATS to similar tours in the region to cross-promote events and build Michigan as a cultural arts and local food destination.
Who is Behind the Arts and Eats Tour?
Arts and Eats began in 2011 as a collaborative effort between arts organizations, artists, agricultural organizations, and individuals in Southwest Michigan. Modeled after similar tours in other regions, Arts and Eats aims to raise awareness and appreciation of the region’s human and natural resources. In the years since its inception, it has grown into a massive undertaking encompassing sites in five counties and drawing hundreds of people each year.
Today, Arts and Eats is managed by the Thornapple Arts Council with support from arts-minded individuals.
How Can You Get Involved?
If you are an artist…
Apply to show, sell, and demonstrate your art on the tour in your studio, at a central site, or in another artist’s studio.
If you run an eatery, brewery, etc…
Showcase menu items that use locally grown food and apply for a spot on the map.
If you run a farm or farmers’ market…
Open your barn doors to educate people about rural life and your agricultural business.
Support the Tour
Arts and Eats supports Michigan artists, businesses, and growers and encourages connections between them for a more thriving and vibrant local economy.
Like the idea? Consider showing your support of local culture and enterprise by becoming a sponsor or taking out an ad in the Map & Guide. Contact Megan Lavell at the Thornapple Arts Council for more information.