New fitness and music series ‘an opportunity to touch grass,’ build community in downtown Farmington

There’s no shortage of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in downtown Farmington this summer, what with weekly events like the award-winning Farmington Farmers Market drawing thousands to Riley Park each Saturday. The weekly music series Lunch Beats in Riley Park, which takes place each Wednesday at noon, and Rhythms in Riley Park, which takes place each Friday at 7 p.m., return the first week of June. And with new line-ups, too. Lunch Beats features local singers and songwriters, typically in an acoustic setting, while Rhythms welcomes cover and tribute bands that play the hits.
Art on the Grand, 2023. (File photo: David Lewinski)
One of the year’s biggest festivals, Art on the Grand, is already on the horizon. It’s scheduled to bring what typically totals more than 100 artists to the downtown streets on Saturday, June 1, and Sunday, June 2. And it might be the biggest Farmington Founders Festival yet this summer, which is scheduled for July 18-20. While the festival itself will be celebrating its own 60th anniversary, this year’s celebration of Farmington’s founding takes place in the community’s own bicentennial year.

Amidst the excitement of returning favorites comes the news that the Farmington Downtown Development Authority is launching not one but two new series this summer: the Dinan Park Music Series and Farmington Fit Wednesdays at the Masonic Lawn.

Concerts from local singers and songwriters are set to take place each Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Dinan Park, beginning the first week of June and running through August. The lawn in front of the historic Farmington Masonic Hall will welcome a new series of fitness classes led by local gyms and studios, with six sessions scheduled beginning the first week of June. Each week is different, ranging from crossfit to yoga, and takes place Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. While free and open to the public, space is limited and those interested should register online.
Brass Animals and the crowd rally around Edgar the Grand Raven in front of downtown's historic Masonic Hall in 2023. (File photo: David Lewinski)
That each of the events are taking place at Dinan Park and the Masonic Lawn comes as no surprise, with the former anchored at a brand new pocket park built in 2023 and the latter stretching out along what could soon become another new park in downtown Farmington. The DDA has launched a crowdfunding campaign to build Masons Corner, a universally-accessible public space complete with pavers, landscaping, an interactive sculptural swing installed to commemorate the community’s bicentennial, movable outdoor seating, a fire feature, and more. Should they successfully reach their $75,000 goal by Friday, June 7, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation will contribute a $75,000 matching grant to the project as part of their own Public Spaces Community Places initiative.

Learn more about the plans for Masons Corner on Patronicity.

“This project is a great example of bringing historic and modern elements together for the benefit of a community,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and Executive Director of the Michigan Municipal League. “A historic area will now also include modern amenities and a universally accessible design to ensure that everyone can enjoy the space and have the opportunity to foster connections with those around them.”

Renderings for Masons Corner in downtown Farmington.

Bringing historic and modern elements together, as Gilmartin himself puts it, is a good way to describe Farmington Fit Wednesdays. While the people responsible for building the historic Masonic Hall in 1876 might have imagined generations of families enjoying the space, the sight of yoga, crossfit, and pilates classes on the lawn might have taken them a bit by surprise.

We spoke with Joel Lewis, owner of TrvFit Farmington, a gym and fitness center located in the Village Commons development, about their involvement in Farmington Fit Wednesdays – and why it’s so exciting for the fitness community here.

Metromode: What do you have planned for your Farmington Fit Wednesday session?

Joel Lewis: We are planning on moving the participants through a functional fitness class geared towards both strength and conditioning – multiple compound movements arranged with purpose to push just a little, and to be fun and enlivening.

Metromode: What are the benefits of exercising outdoors? And especially regarding your own style of exercise?

Lewis: There is no doubt in my mind that there is a different energy being outdoors while exercising! The fresh air, being surrounded by nature and friends, both new and old – it is invigorating. In particular for us, being outdoors means more physical space and room for creativity in the movements… and an opportunity to touch grass.

Metromode: From your own perspective, what do you find most exciting about the series?

Lewis: I love movement, all types of movement, and the opportunity for the community of Farmington to see and join in different forms of physical movement is amazing. We are so grateful to be a part of these events.

Metromode: In addition to fitness itself, how can something like this benefit the community and downtown Farmington as a whole?

Lewis: I think that these events show the community how accessible physical fitness is, both on a personal level and locally. As humans we need movement and community, and all of the studios and clubs participating provide that. My hope is that this event will provide the first steps for community members to find their tribe and get moving.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Farmington Fit Wednesday launches at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5, with a class from Five Lakes Crossfit. TrvFit Farmington hosts their own Farmington Fit Wednesday session at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26. Visit Downtown Farmington online for an up-to-date lineup and registration information.

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.