Inaugural out·land·ish festival celebrates summer solstice and the great outdoors

Solstice. Pronounced: sol'stis

Noun. Originating via Old French from the Latin world ‘solstitium’ meaning the apparent standing still of the sun.

With that in mind, Midland took advantage of the extra daylight this year and marked the official start of summer, otherwise known as summer solstice, during the longest day and shortest night of the year. Celebrating this summer season with a brand new festival, out·land·ish featuring outdoor activities in and around the city’s attractions and with the focus on enjoying the outdoors. Whether your interests lie in spending time in your backyard, down the street, or at your favorite spot around the state — there is no right way to enjoy the outdoors.

The inaugural out·land·ish festival took place on June 21 in Midland

The inaugural out·land·ish festival took advantage of the longest day and the official kickoff to summer by celebrating our local outdoor playground along with many activities that involved anything but standing still. In and around Downtown Midland, festival goers were treated to fly fishing demonstrations, trail running and biking demonstrations, yoga classes and much more.

“We set out to make the first out·land·ish festival something where everyone could experience adventure in their backyard, whether they had little to no experience with an activity or were a seasoned expert,” says Bo Brines, owner of Little Forks Outfitters and festival committee member.

Bo Brines of Little Forks Outfitters and out·land·ish festival committee member

"There are so many options, so whether you travel far to have an adventure, or you experience it right here, in a way, it’s all the same,” reiterates Brines. “The most important thing is that you just that you get outside and enjoy the experience.”

Whether your pastime is trail running, yoga, fly fishing or many others, or you just have had an inkling to try one of these activities, the festival provided fun for everyone.

“It’s really exciting to spend time with other people celebrating our region and all the resources it has to offer,” says Ashley Lewis, an outdoor enthusiast and out·land·ish festival attendee.

“Some of my favorite outdoor activities are riding bike trails, trail running and paddle boarding, so having a new event that features an array of outdoor activities that we can enjoy right here in Midland is perfect,” says Lewis. “Most of all, I love that the festival included something for everyone. I enjoyed seeing small kids getting involved because it means another generation that is interested and engaged with the outdoors.”

out·land·ish featured activities for all ages from young to young at heart.

The Little Forks Conservancy hosted two of the festival’s attractions at the Forestview and Riverview Natural Areas. Ray's Bike Shop of Bay City assisted riders with bike rides throughout the preserve and cycling vendors Salsa Cycles and Surly were on site with gear demonstrations.

At Riverview Natural Area trail running and hiking were highlighted. Runners Athletic Company treated trail runners or those interested in learning more with gear from Salomon running shoes.

Several yoga classes were offered throughout the day and around town compliments of Element 22 and Sarah Nelson, another local yogi. Summer solstice also happened to be International Yoga Day, coined for its global appeal four years ago.

“Yoga is something that anyone can try and it’s a practice, so there is always room to grow and improve in your practice and personal yoga journey,” says Amy Jaster, co-owner of Element 22. “It was really fun to get outside against a new backdrop to teach and our instructors Maggie Vidergar and Amy Stolz got to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones as well.”

One of the many yoga events at out·land·ish

Classes were focused on all skill levels and including beginners, cycling-focussed recovery, partner yoga and Forrest Yoga, a slower-paced breath work practice. Spread across downtown, preserves and Little Forks Conservancy, classes also took yogis out into and around nature.

Fly fishing demonstrations by Little Forks Outfitters and Scientific Anglers.


Little Forks Outfitters and Scientific Anglers were on hand for testing a hand at fly fishing casting at a large casting pond with Orvis Fly Fishing and R.L. Winston Rod Company fly rods for testing.

Along with gear and fly fishing, Chippewa Nature Center hosted educational activities focused on river wildlife and what it takes to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Kids, big and small alike, were treated to a crawfish race.

While many events and attractions were focused on activities and sport, there was plenty of time for play as well.

Henna body art compliments of Dancing Armadillos Body Art.

Serendipity Road featured a space for yard games, temporary henna tattoos and face paint designs from Dancing Armadillos Body Art, summer-ready flower crowns by happy.pretty., flower pot planting by Captured Community and t-shirt printing by Red Threads who live-printed out·land·ish merchandise and other designs.

Little Forks Conservancy hosted an overview of the history of Averill Preserve, which was followed by a hike of the natural area.

With all of Michigan’s natural amenities, quite a few reside right in our backyard. Commenting on the growth of adventure and advocacy, Greg Yankee, executive director of Little Forks Conservancy and festival committee member added, “Our place as a society in conserving nature and experiencing the outdoors has really catapulted in the last few years.”

“Both Midland and the state of Michigan have numerous outdoor resources we are blessed to have as our collective playground, so making the natural connection to conservation of those resources for years to come through events like the out·land·ish festival is important.”

Adventure and activism
The festival ended with two notable events, a special screening of No Man's Land Film Festival, with a specific focus on female adventurers. A an all-woman adventure film festival based out of Colorado, No Man’s Land Film Festival was born of the desire to highlight and connect individuals who identify as women in pursuit of the radical.

The Harlem Honeys and Bears, a synchronized swim team for seniors 55+

Held at various cities around the world and annually in Carbondale, Colorado, the goal of the festival is to connect like-minded individuals who are action-oriented, wish to support a shared vision of gender equality, have a desire to experience their passions and environments through a uniquely female lens, and above all, love adventure.

Quincy Edmonds, surfing prodigy featured at No Man's Land Film Festival

With the goal of motivating audiences to implement and inspire change, the lineup included everything from young surfing prodigy Quincy Edmonds, one-armed Colorado rock climber Maureen Beck, to a short feature on the Harlem Honeys and Bears, a synchronized swim team for seniors 55 years and older.

From girls who couldn’t be stopped to women who unabashedly pursue their passions, each of the films featured a certain fearlessness and the underlying tone, whether stated or not, that women can do anything men can do — and sometimes more.

No Man's Land Film Festival features included Maureen Beck, a one-armed rock climber.

There was a special focus on what most people might think of as a disability and debunked some of the myths around adaptive sport, showing that there is no less adventure no matter what your ability looks like.

The festival bills itself as action-oriented adventurers turned activists for conservation, equality and inclusion. “At No Man’s Land, film-goers are transformed into a congregation of committed activists, dedicated to ‘getting the girls out’ in a responsible, inspired and informed manner.”

The Crane Wives capped off the night with a great set.

And no summer night is complete without live music, which capped off the evening from the very talented and well-known band The Crane Wives. The four-part Grand Rapid’s based band treated the large crowd to a couple hours of tunes.

The Crane Wives during the out·land·ish festival.

The inaugural out·land·ish festival was put on with committee support from Little Forks Conservancy, Little Forks Outfitters, Heart of the Lakes and Bolger + Battle and several local sponsors.

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