Michigan’s Amazing Asparagus: A Celebration of Green Spears from Empire, Michigan to the Oakland County Market

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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There is no celebration of asparagus quite like the three days of food-stomping, hand-clapping, green-spear eating fun that was held last weekend in northern Michigan. The festival took place on the streets of downtown Empire, a village nestled in the shadows of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and barely a stone’s throw from the waves of Lake Michigan. Are you wondering how one celebrates asparagus? I traveled to Empire to find out and quickly became an active participant in Empire’s 12th Annual Asparagus Festival, an event that even outshines St. Patrick’s Day when it comes to being green.

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A Spring Tale of Two Plovers

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Forget the American Robin and the Eastern Bluebirds as being the winged harbingers of spring. In Oakland County, the impending arrival of spring was confirmed at the Red Oaks Dog Park early on Friday, March 13. It was a day when the mercury flirted with freezing, the sky was murky gray and slushy ice covered the new Red Oaks Trail that meanders west from the dog park. Even over the nearby din of Dequindre Road traffic, the shrill call of Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous) could be heard. I smiled as I remembered an Audubon article that mentioned 18th Century naturalists referring to this common member of the plover family as the Chattering Plover and the Noisy Plover. Their unforgettable and distinctly shrill call is music to the ears of anyone that welcomes spring. For the next 10 minutes, I watched a pair of shoreless shorebirds hunting for brunch – in a dog park.

 

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