From staff reports
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The first and second Benzie County Water festivals each attracted more than 300 attendees.
Organizers hope to top that number during a one-day event on Friday that features world-class Michigan musicians, panel discussions, speeches, artisan foods and beverages, art, children’s activities, and more.
“This is unique and thrilling because this year we have added a youth component to the water festival,” said Josh Stoltz, Benzie Central High School site coordinator for SEEDS After School.
During the afternoon, 60 students will present their water-themed projects to other students. The public can view the students’ work after the school day, along with displays by local organizations.
The Dread, a band made up of Benzie Central High School students, will take the stage at 3:30 p.m., followed by kids’ activities from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Activities include a do-it-yourself water harp, a hydrogen fuel cell car, a watercolor mural, a video station, a stream table, and a live amphibian display, which gives kids and adults a chance to hold all kinds of Michigan frogs, snakes, and salamanders.
At 5:30 p.m., Tom Kramer will lead panel discussions, starting with Kurt Luedtke of Luedtke Engineering, on the recently passed legislation to dredge Betsie Bay.
At 6 p.m., the conversation will turn to the issue of water used for fracking. The featured panelists are Peggy Case of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and journalist Keith Schneider of Circle of Blue.
Hans VanSumeren, one of the nation’s most highly regarded underwater vehicle pilots and director of Northwestern Michigan College’s Water Studies Institute, will speak at 7 p.m.
The Fauxgrass Quartet will close the evening with bluegrass music, taking the stage at 8 p.m.
Visitors can enjoy a pizza dinner available for purchase from the after-school SEEDS program.
This event is a project of the Benzie Community Water Council. Thanks to donations, including a grant from the Grand Traverse Steward Initiative, the event is free. However, donations are encouraged and will help fund future events.
The festival will be held at the Benzie Central High School, 9300 Homstead Road, in Benzonia.
For more information, please go to www.water-festival.org.