Crisp tastes and tunes will fill the vibrant fall air Saturday at Ypsilanti’s West Cross Cider Festival.
The second annual hard cider festival will feature 10 Michigan-crafted hard ciders, a host of delectable West Cross food offerings and five emerging Ypsi-based music artists to celebrate an autumn afternoon in the city.
Hard cider and mead fans will experience a bushel of sweet, tasty brews from Farmhaus, Northville Cider, Sierra Rose, Blake’s, Virtue, Pux, Fourth Coast, St. Ambrose and Cherry Creek as well as local favorites Bløm Meadworks, Unity Vibration and 734 Brewing Company.
“This is their time to fall in love with more than one favorite and connect with the representatives of each brand,” said Julie Palmer, West Cross Cider Festival event organizer. “With names like Ballyhoo, Traffic Jam, Skinny Dip and Absynthe Botanical, it will become immediately clear that cider is as diverse as the maker behind it.”
Palmer and the West Cross Cider Festival team partnered with the Michigan Cider Association and beverage distributors to bring new and returning cider producers to the growing event, which is located at the intersection of College Place and West Cross.
“Because Michigan is at the top of our nation’s apple-producing states, we’ve got so much to offer,” Palmer said. “One only needs to scratch the surface to find many Michigan ciders in most stores.”
Festival attendees will be able to purchase cider tasting wristbands for $25 in advance online. The first 500 purchases also will include souvenir tasting mugs for hardcore cider aficionados to personally enjoy the festival’s brews with food from Wurst Bar, Tower Inn, Veg-O-Rama and other local eateries.
“This entire concept was born out of a conversation among West Cross business owners. Much happens in downtown and Depot Town to draw people to those areas. There was nothing happening to bring people out to the West Cross District,” Palmer said. “This is what prompted me to talk to Jesse (Kranyak), the owner of the Wurst Bar, and ask him if he wanted to create something. Within 10 minutes, we had the basic framework of a hard cider and local food festival.”
To electrify Saturday’s event, Palmer and the festival team invited five diverse, emerging Ypsi music acts – singer-songwriter Alice Oakes, garage roots trio Las Drogas, hip-hop artist Lucy Lujah, acoustic funk quartet Mercury Salad Sandwich and DJ Mikael Dunn – to share their flavorful tunes with attendees.
“I love the singer-songwriter vibe of Alice Oakes. Las Drogas has a lively rock presence that’s always fun and upbeat. Lucy Lujah is an emerging rap artist, and I’m excited to introduce her to a wider audience. She’s also excited to emcee and will add another level of enthusiasm to the overall experience,” said Palmer, who’s also the founder of JEM Events.
“Mercury Salad is one of the most notable Ypsi bands. They have a great vibe that I think will resonate with the festival audience. I’ve been able to experience Mikael Dunn’s ability to read a crowd and spin tunes that resonate. He’s gaining notice in the community, and I’m excited to give him a larger audience.”
With almost two hard cider festivals under their belt, Palmer and the festival team hope to grow their hard cider and mead partnerships to become the state’s most comprehensive cider festival. Future festivals may include an expansion down West Cross Street and the addition of a carnival.
“Last year’s event was very positively received across the city and among our city’s leadership. We are committed to remaining in the West Cross District and creating a positive experience that may cause visitors to return again to have dinner, lunch or coffee,” Palmer said.
“I want to be able to generate enough profits to entice the city and state to unlock matching dollars for façade improvements in this district. I want our festival to be synonymous with the health and vibrancy of the West Cross district.”
2nd Annual West Cross Cider Festival
1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Intersection of College Place and West Cross in Ypsilanti
Wristbands: $25 in advance online (First 500 purchases will include souvenir tasting mug.)