empire — Mimi Wheeler of Grocer's Daughter Chocolate, along with experienced trip leader Jody Treter, will lead a group of chocolate lovers to Ecuador for an 11-day tour, Feb. 29 to March 11, 2013.
The tour will focus on chocolate growing, fermenting, processing and exporting as well as indigenous entrepreneurship.
Highlights of the trip include:
n Visit to the Otavalos market, one of the largest and most important artisan markets in South America.
n Taste the rare and prized Nacional cacao species.
n Meet with cacao farmers living in the Amazon who own Kallari chocolate, one of the only chocolate companies in the world wholly owned and governed by its indigenous producer families.
For more information, visit www.grocersdaughter.com
Dust Bowl exhibit
HICKORY CORNERS — A West Michigan car museum is offering an exhibition that looks at autos in the Dust Bowl era.
The display at the Gilmore Car Museum coincides with the recent airing of PBS' two-part television series, "The Dust Bowl." The film by Ken Burns features interviews with residents who lived through the Great Depression, drought and wind storms in the 1930s.
The Gilmore museum's display includes Dust Bowl-themed photographs, but its focus is on the cars of the time. A Duesenberg custom-built for Hollywood's elite sits next to a Ford Model T covered with a family's only belongings.
New FireKeepers hotel
BATTLE CREEK — FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, owned and operated by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, has opened Michigan's newest resort-style hotel.
The hotel is located along Interstate 94 at exit 104. With 242 rooms, it features an indoor pool, exercise facility, full-service restaurant and business center. A multi-purpose event center has been added, capable of seating up to 2,000 in a concert venue or to be used for banquets, corporate meetings, trade shows and other events.
Also included in the expansion is additional gaming space, increasing the FireKeepers' gaming floor to 111,700 square feet, and 2,900 slot machines. The new gaming area is located near the hotel lobby and will be a dedicated smoke free zone.
Additional information is available online at www.FireKeepersCasinoHotel.com.