Weekend Warm-Up for downtown Midland

    Midland’s Weekend Warm-Up could be the main event in its own right with three headliners enticing people downtown on Thursday evenings. “We realized there was a lot going on [Thursdays],” says Selina Harris, Midland Community Affairs Director, “and we wanted to capitalize on that.”

     The Beer Garden has returned to Larkin Street after being at Dow Diamond during COVID restrictions. Movies on Main, sponsored and hosted by Ace Hardware, has moved from Wednesday to Thursday, and the ever popular Tunes by the Tridge returns with an eclectic live music line-up. The Beer Garden opened last week, while Tunes and Movies opens tonight (6/8).
Food trucks will be parked near the Beer Garden and Tunes by the Tridge.
     Beyond these larger happenings, Thursdays will be a great opportunity to dine, shop and socialize. “We are encouraging businesses to stay open until 7 p.m. and will publicize those when we have them,” Harris says. “So far six retailers will be open until then, and seven restaurants will host a happy hour and/or serve up specials on appetizers, etc.” 
   The film listings for Movies on Main can be found on its website.  People are encouraged to bring a lawn chair to the Ace Hardware parking lot and pack a cooler while “Celebrating cinema and capturing the spirit of summer by watching films outdoors, under the stars in downtown Midland [website].” Shows begin after Tunes by the Tridge concludes, around 9:30 p.m. Popcorn and other movie snacks are available at a concession stand run by Ace employees.

     Ace Hardware co-owner and movie host Daniel Buzzell says, “I pick out the movies and try to tie into things that are happening in the community. For example, this year we are showing Footloose the week before it’s being performed at the MCFTA.” He also says he checks out the parental guidelines for appropriateness.

     Midland City Council extended The Commons to Cronkright, and Buzzell says he is excited that Movies on Main will now be a part of that. “Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and the public has been incredibly responsible.” Buzzell also says he looks forward to more partnerships with other establishments such as Brinstar Arcade Bar and Grill.

The Larkin Beer Garden is back in its original location on Larkin near Rodd.
  Anchored by a refurbished shipping container turned pop-up tap room, The Beer Garden aims to help drive people downtown and support retail, in addition to just food and beverage, says Grant Murschel , now the owner of Larkin Beer Garden, LLC.

  Located back in the Turtle Cove parking lot, its first location,  the Beer Garden partners with nonprofits who share their individual event liquor licenses and provide volunteers in exchange for Garden profits. Murschel says Independent Community Living has the first six weeks and two more partners yet to be announced will finish off the season. 

     Murschel, who also helps with Beer Garden management, says the Garden serves up Michigan made craft beer. Canned beer and seltzers round out the beverage offerings, and one food truck each Thursday will park on Larkin outside the Garden. Some seating is provided, and lawn chairs, dogs, and kids are all welcome. Manager Rachel Finney says The Garden is something different in Midland. The beverages, recorded summer tunes, cornhole games, etc., “[make it] a fun summer hangout for the community.” 

Tunes by the Tridge starts at 7pm on Thursday evenings.
  In her 16th summer of organizing Tunes by the Tridge, Marcie Post, Assistant Director of Public Services, says there will be no changes to the good things people have come to know at Tunes. “The Commons has brought so many downtown; it just keeps building the [sense of] community we’re after,” she says. Like Movies on Main, grab a lawn chair, pack a cooler and “come downtown and we will entertain you all night long. [It’s a] place for the whole family to gather. It’s a no brainer.”
   Tunes by the Tridge live music calendar can be found at the City’s website and Facebook pages, and returning vendors for this summer include Bugbee Kettle Corn, Proper Taco, Domino’s, Nate’s Hot Dog Cart, Sawadee Food Truck and Great Lakes Ice Cream.

     Overall people need to understand how valued their support of downtown business is, Harris says. It’s a roll of the dice for folks to stay open later, and it’s important to support businesses that do this. “We appreciate those that are staying open, and we hope the community goes out to support them.” Weekend Warm-Up provides at least three good reasons for doing this on Thursday nights in downtown Midland.
Participating Summer Retail Business Thursday Hours
  • Ace Hardware - open until 8 pm
  • Bookmarks - open until 7 pm
  • Craft Hemp Co. – open until 7 pm
    • 4-7 pm Happy Hour special BOGO CBD prerolls, 2/$12 seltzers,
      and 2/$6 CBD waters from 5-7pm.
  • Duo Studio Designs - open until 7pm
    • BOGO 1/2 off regular priced apparel *some restrictions apply*
  • Joyful Tantrum - open until 9 pm
  • Little Forks Outfitters - open until 7 pm
  • Peel 'n Pare - open until 7 pm
  • Rose Wilde - open until 7 pm
  • Serendipity Road - open until 9 pm
  • The Yoga Place - 7:30 - 8:30 pm evening class
    • This class is donation based (students pay whatever they like), gentle, and one that anyone can attend with no reservations
Participating Summer Food & Beverage Thursday Hours
  • Aster - open until 9 pm
    • Happy Hour Thursday: $8 margaritas!
  • Aviator Cookie Company - open until 8 pm
  • Brinstar - open until midnight
    • Happy Hour Thursday from 2-7 pm: $1 off draft beer, bottle beer, craft cocktails, and eggrolls
  • El Carretonero - open until 9 pm
  • Grape Beginnings Winery
    • Work Day Wind Down from 4-7 pm: $2 off glass of wine
  • Gratzi - open 4-10 pm
  • Heather 'n Holly - open until 9 pm
  • Molasses - open until 9 pm
    • Happy Hour Thursday from 4-7 pm: $2 off apps, $1 off drafts and wine
  • Pizza Sam’s - $1 off drafts
  • Three Bridges Distillery & Taproom - open until midnight
    • Rotating Thursday Happy Hour Specials
  • WhichCraft Taproom - open until midnight

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

Read more articles by Amy Hutchinson.

Amy Hutchinson retired from the Midland Public Schools in 2018 after 32 years at Midland High School. During that time she taught Journalism and English, advised the student newspaper Focus, and served as department head of English and World Language, International Baccalaureate Coordinator, and Assistant Principal. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Central Michigan University and was a Gerstacker Fellow at Saginaw Valley State University. She volunteers for Midland County Senior Services and her church, the United Church of Christ. Amy works part-time at Eastman Party Store. She enjoys gardening, golfing, swimming, traveling, and cooking.