The NCCA-Artsplace Holiday Card Contest had 536 entries this year from Newaygo County students from kindergarten through 12th grade. The 2019 contest winners were selected by local graphic artist Nate Bender.
The award winning selections were from A’Brehn Aprile from Big Jackson School, Dana Rumsey from Fremont Christian School; Aiven Warmbein from Newaygo Elementary School; Francesca Crescenzo from White Cloud High School; Abigale Hoaglin from Grant High School; and Claire Magers from Fremont Middle School. The selected students received 20 cards of their design as well as having their original design framed. The award winning cards are available for purchase at NCCA-Artsplace.
The winning entries will be on display through December 28 at NCCA-Artsplace, 13 East Main Street in downtown Fremont.
Ready to try a new direction when it comes to gifting? Tired of looking around with no clear idea of what to get then settling for a quick panic grab of something that will likely never see the light of day again once opened? Want something practical and yet a little fun? A gift that is likely to be remembered?
How about meat?
I’m talking bacon, sausage, chops, maybe a loin or two or even some combination of pork related products. After all, while aware of the number of vegans and vegetarians among our readership there remains a great deal of folks whose carnivorous habits have been maintained for the better part of their lives.
And they really really love meat.
But you don’t want to gift someone just any meat, correct? You want high quality stuff. Something a bit special. A meat that says “Merry Christmas”.
Well, we have an idea...
Years ago Jay and Sarah Cleveland decided to strive for a more self sufficient lifestyle. They bought acreage, built a house and began to add outbuildings as their livestock grew to chickens goats and eventually the hogs.
“It started out to be just raising meat for our family then we last year we became a state licensed meat processor.” Sarah explained.
And so began the story of Happy Hog Farm, a local opportunity for carnivores to get a hold of some quality pork raised by folks who truly care for the animals in their keep.
Sarah talks of the farm and their livestock with such a deep and abiding love for what she and Jay have built from a desire to tend to their animals in a humane manner.
“We want the animals we raise to enjoy their time here. We want them to have good lives,” she explained.
From the tour we took on behalf of SWK the animals were indeed well cared for.
The goats welcomed me with an attempt at a nibble on my jacket that might have been successful had Sarah not warned me of their less than selective feeding options.
From there we visited a couple of moms-to-be in their farrowing stalls. All the hogs are born on the farm and not purchased elsewhere as piglets.
We also met their Livestock Guardian Dog, an impressive Great Pyrenees named Tao who eyed me with what seemed like more than a trace of suspicion. My hunch is Tao performs her duties well given her vigilance regarding my presence.
The Clevelands are a busy lot with 3 school age children at home and Jay’s regular job consuming a lot of time but they are committed to delivering a high quality product raised locally without corn or soy in their diet and raised with caring and kindness as well.
While Sarah handles the business end of HHF her gratitude for her husband’s contribution runs deep.
“Without Jay none of this would be possible,” she stated. “He works so incredibly hard on every single one of his days off of his regular job to keep this farm running and he is the main meat cutter in the shop.
“His role is so vital.”
Their porcine prowlers have ample room to mill about doing their thing (mainly rooting and digging) on the HHF grounds. Unlike large operations who keep their livestock confined and contained these pigs can go ‘hog wild’ in a wooded area where they are allowed to roam about a bit. Their diet is free of GMOs and their ability to have a varied fare produces a more flavorful taste.
As Sarah called them out of the barn for an appearance they pushed and nudged to get a little attention from her.
This past summer Happy Hog Farm set up shop on Saturdays at the Grant Farmers Market and won over a following and are now offering CSA’s where an early investment brings fresh meat to your door all year round.
Sarah has become a sausage creator blending mixtures of spices and flavorings to add a personal touch to their product. She admits the taste testing is run through the family first for approval.
And the results?
Well, a package of “Seriously Good Hot Dogs” that came home with us lived up to their name the evening after our visit. As Sarah had explained the texture differs from most ‘traditional’ dogs one gets at a grocery store but the taste was superb and when garnished with just a touch of some really good mustard they moved from superb to sublime. The experience has admittedly altered my personal weenie world a bit.
The Happy Hog Farm has gift certificates available because if you leave pork chops under the tree Santa may not get them but a furry friend could very well nose them out and besides you’d have to keep it in a cooler which might give away the whole surprise even if the cooler was wrapped and all.
So yeah, gift certificates.
And if meat gifting may not suit your needs, hitting them up for some main course Christmas Dinner material could certainly be in the offing and add a nice local touch to the feast.
Because if the rest of their meat proves to be as tasty as those hot dogs?
I’m in. Way in.
You can contact Happy Hog Farm through their facebook site
Or by giving them a call at 616.446.4059.
The Spanish-Language (English supertitles) theatrical presentation El país sin nombre (the country without a name) will be presented by Grant Middle School students in the Grant Fine Arts Center at 6pm on Wednesday. It is a short comedy about the importance of memory.
Doings this weekend
For many years the Friends of the White Cloud Library have been putting on a dinner event with small decorative trees and wreaths on the auction block (silent auction block, that is). Swiss steak is the star of the dinner held at the Eagles Club and proceeds will go toward the groups efforts to help the WCCL the well loved oasis of fun and learning in the county seat. Friday 4:30-7pm, 8 bucks a plate and some truly fine looking trees and wreaths on display for perusal and purchase.
Friday at 6pm is the Christmas Walk a time honored downtown Newaygo tradition that has closed the streets to all but horse drawn carriages wandering carolers and holiday revelers for over a decade. It is all the chestnut roasting, wagon riding, Santa sitting fun one can have in a 2 hour binge. If you’ve never been, it is a wonderful way to generate a little seasonal spark. And if you have? You’re likely a regular.
We recall being at the inaugural St. Nick Kick when a collection of brave souls took off in a bit of a snowstorm to benefit the Newaygo Cross Country program.
Man, has it grown. The SNK has become one of the area’s ‘must’ runs and they do it really well and we’re not saying that just because Newaygo Cross Coach Alexis Mercer is the N3 Editor.
Well, maybe partly but it’s still a great race and if we ever decided to extend our footwork beyond trips to the mailbox this would be the race we would run.
Saturday afternoon you can head back up to the Cloud for more Christmas doings from Noon to 3pm. Lots of events and activities and Santa will be making an appearance as well.
Bellewether has their annual open house Saturday from 11am-3pm featuring pet photos with Santa, their always enticing dog and cat calendars, pet (and human) goodies and toys because pets can never have enough toys. Microchipping is also available so if Bowser or Sylvester tends to wander this process provides a little insurance should they get a bit lost.
Not had your fill of craft shows? If you want to travel to GR Saturday 9am-3pm the one they annually hold at West Catholic has been one of the premier shows in our Metro neighbor to the south for many years but if you still have the itch and want to keep it local check out the one at Grant Christian School starting at 10am.
Got a wreath-making desire going? The Howard Christensen Nature Center where you can fashion a grapevine wreath with foraged cuttings and personalize it with trimmings. Everything supplied, including refreshments for the bargain price of 10 bucks for non members and a mere fin for members.
Our columnist Megan (Megan Again) has organized a caroling tour of some local nursing homes for Sunday.
Here’s the skinny straight from the keyboard of writer/singer/domestic goddess Ms. Wirts.
Join me my friends and family in spreading joy this holiday season by singing some classic carols together!
We will meet on Sunday December 8th at 12:00pm in the parking lot at Fountain View Retirement Village in Grant. We plan to also travel to the Newaygo Medical Care Facility in Fremont, meeting there at 4:00pm. Dress festively! I will provide song lyrics and a loud voice. Raven will be bringing her ukulele, otherwise we will be doing this acapella. Invite others to join! The more the merrier!
If you’ve any small ones at home or have the rep at being that ‘Fun’ aunt call up and get tickets to the Velveteen Rabbit production at the Dogwood Sunday at 3pm. If you know the story you will love this version and so will the littles you bring. If you don't know the story you will still love it and perhaps be buying yourself the book for Christmas.
And Sunday night you can wrap up the weekend with the annual River Country Community Choir Concert at the Grant Fine Arts Center beginning at 6pm. Over 50 folks will be tuning up their vocal chords to entertain attendees with some really fine choral arrangements for just a free will offering as the price of admission and proceeds heading to Love INC.
We know, we know it’s a lot and there is likely more on the way but hey, January and February are going to give you ample time to hunker in and do a little hibernating so get out there and revel folks.
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