Getting a charge out of Door County

The Blacksmith Inn On The Shore recently completed the installation of 2 electric vehicle charging stations. One of them is a Clipper Creek charger that works with most electric cars such as the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf and plug-in Prius. The other is a dedicated Tesla charger.

Both chargers were provided and installed through the Destination Charging Partner program of Tesla Motors at no cost to the host property. Tesla reached out to all Select Registry Inns with this proposition. Slightly over half of the approximately 330 member inns throughout North America accepted Tesla’s generous offer.

Tesla and Clipper Creek electric vehicle chargers ready to "fill up" cars in the Blacksmith Inn parking lot.

The Blacksmith Inn’s installation coincides with an initiative of the Door County Visitor Bureau (DCVB) to distribute electric vehicle charging stations throughout Door County. The DCVB led the way by installing 2 EV chargers at its Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center in the summer of 2014. DCVB Executive Director, Jack Monneypenny, expects that about 15 additional EV chargers will be in service in Door County by the end of 2015. One of those chargers will be installed by the Town of Baileys Harbor at a yet-to-be-determined location on Town property within the village.

Tesla’s initiative to install EV chargers has everything to do with the “chicken or egg” issue surrounding electrically fueled cars. “Big thinkers” in both energy and economics tell us that this is the direction that civilization needs to go if it is to enjoy the kind of mobility it has today. But we won’t buy Electric Vehicles unless and until there are convenient and numerous places to recharge them.

Tesla says it will be introducing its new, more affordable, model by the end of this year. It will have similar range (265 miles) to its very successful “S” model but will compete in price point with most well-equipped SUVs. Thanks to Tesla, the Blacksmith Inn is ready to re-fuel EV owners when they visit Door County.

 

 

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Door County’s Door Community Auditorium 2015 Season

Door Community Auditorium‘s Executive Director, Cari Lewis, recently announced its lineup for the upcoming season. Now in her 5th year as DCA’s leader, Cari has overseen a steady increase in the quality of local, regional and national acts that play this acoustically wonderful venue. The upcoming season will see the likes of Melissa Etheridge, Mavis Staples, Lyle Lovett, Justin Townes Earle, The Wailin Jennys, The Jayhawks, Josh Turner, The Wood Brothers and the Charlie Daniels Band gracing the stage.

The Door Community Auditorium is one of Door County’s many treasures. Located in Fish Creek, just 7-1/2 miles from the Blacksmith Inn On The Shore, the Auditorium was designed and built 25 years ago as a community-wide effort for all of Door County. In its fundraising stage, the DCA was primarily purposed to be the home of the annual Peninsula Music Festival, one of North America’s premier classical music festivals. Acoustically speaking, it would be hard to find another venue in America closer to perfection. At 750 seats, the DCA it small enough to afford every seat an intimate encounter with the talent onstage.

Joan & Bryan backstage last July with Pokie LaFarge & his band.

Each season the Blacksmith Inn On The Shore helps sponsor an artist’s appearance at DCA. This year we will be underwriting the very exciting young singer-songwriter, Justin Townes Earle. Like his father, Steve Earle, Justin Townes’ music leans heavily toward roots and Americana. He has 6 albums to his credit and has been touring tirelessly for the past decade with artists such as Old Crow Medicine Show & Gillian Welch, as well as with his father’s band. Earle’s appearance at the Auditorium will take place at 8:00 p.m. Sunday, August 2nd.

Tickets for the big-name talent are going fast. So go to Door Community Auditorium‘s Ticket Sales page and choose your favorite artist. Then come back to the Blacksmith Inn On The Shore’s website and book your room. We’d love to see you in Door County this summer!

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Get Beer’d in Door County’s Baileys Harbor

The 5th annual Door County Beer Festival will take place on Saturday, June 20th, on the Baileys Harbor Town Square. Over 160 craft beers will be served at the festival, including some of Wisconsin’s finest small batch brews.

The Wisconsin brews include several from Baileys Harbor’s own Door County Brewery. Door County Brewery is located just 2 blocks from where the Beer Festival will be held. So Beer Festival attendees who like what they’re tasting will be able to walk up the street and continue sampling!

Baileys Harbor's own Door County Brewery will have a big presence at the Door County Beer Festival

Enhancing the strong Wisconsin showing will be brews from 48 American and European breweries such as Lagunitas, Southern Tier, Left Hand and Goose Island. The setting will be ripe for side by side tastings of similar brews such as porters and pale ales. There will also be opportunities for the more adventurous beer lovers to sample exotics like hot pepper and bourbon infused brews.

No Door County festival would be complete without live music. In the case of the Door County Beer Festival the afternoon’s soundtrack will be provided by Dead Pigeons from the Twin Cities and the Chicago-based fiddle/guitar duo, Ohlrich and Vanier . Dead Pigeons are a 5-piece string band that plays roots-americana music that leans away from the traditional and more toward acoustic punk. Andy Ohlrich on fiddle with with Mike Vanier on acoustic guitar play a driving blend of bluegrass, blues, jazz and folk. And, being Wisconsin, there will be plenty of room for dancing while sipping.

For those who need another reason to visit Door County on June 20th, the Door County Spring Century Ride will he held the day. The ride offers distances of 25, 50, 75 and 100 miles. The ride begins and ends on the opposite side of the Baileys Harbor Town Square from where the Beer Festival is held.

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Scotties Invade Baileys Harbor

If you’ve ever wanted to be awash in a sea of Scottish Terriers, Baileys Harbor is the place to be. On the weekend of May 16th – 17th the 15th annual Door County Scottie Rally will take place in and around the village of Baileys Harbor.

The real crowd-pleaser of Door County‘s “gathering of the Scots” is Saturday morning’s Scottie Parade. At 11:00 a.m. the sound of bagpipes will fill the air as a pipe and drum corps leads the assembled Scotties and their human companions along a route around the Baileys Harbor town square. The Scotties bark and the parade-goers laugh and applaud as they take in the sight of  over 150 Scotties showing off their clan plaids.

Most of the weekend’s activities take place outside of the public eye as the dogs and their companions gather at a property near the village to engage is Scottie races, face painting and anything else to do with their beloved dog breed. There are also more serious break- out sessions about Scottie health and behavior issues. Canine experts will be in attendance to consult with individual dog/human combos regarding their needs and concerns.

The first Door County Scottie Rally was held in 2001 by Tom Bronsky and Michell Geiger Bronsky to engage other Scottie lovers. It was successful enough that they decided to make it an annual event. Three years later they formed a 501(c)(3) non-profit to support not only the annual Rally but also greater causes for and concerns about the Scottish Terrier breed.

On the middle weekend in May, Door County will be showing off its spring best. It is well worth a trip to Baileys Harbor on Saturday to take in the Parade of the Scots and stay for lunch and a little shopping.

 

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Door County – Fishing Destination

Whether or not you are an angler, when asked to name the hot fishing spots in our part of the world the most likely destinations to emerge will be northern Wisconsin, Ontario and Lake Erie. Although Door County has long been on the short list of places to go for Great Lakes offshore (salmon and trout) fishing, even us local angers were a bit taken aback last summer when Bassmaster Magazine published its annual list of the 100 best bass fisheries in the U. S. and named Sturgeon Bay #1!

A proud Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament winner from a past season.

For the past 26 years the Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament has kicked off the Door County fishing season. One of the first tournaments of the year on any of the Great Lakes, this year’s event will be held April 23 – 26. The water temperature will be in the 30s and chunks of ice will still be floating around the harbors. But fisherman from all over the Midwest will flock to Door County to vie for one of the top prizes given to the biggest fish. Last year’s winner weighed in at 24.57 lbs.

Participants in the tournament may fish anywhere along the Door County shoreline. The center of activities will be the Baileys Harbor Fire Station which houses the fish weigh-in station. One of the tournament’s sponsors, Beacon Marine, will put on a boat show there during the weigh-in activities over the long weekend. The Fire/Weigh-in Station will also host a Block Party on Sunday from 10 a.m until 2 pm with live entertainment and food & refreshments leading up to the final awards ceremony.

The fishing is great any time of the year in Door County. Those anglers who show up in April to pursue the majestic Brown Trout enjoy the County at its finest and least crowded.

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Door County On Ice

2 ft. thick slabs of "glowing" ice below Door Bluff Headlands County Park

Mention Door County to a mid-westerner and her first response is likely to involve the amazing scenery – shoreline, bluffs, lighthouses, beautiful forests. But only winter visitors get to see the spectacular ice formations that Lake Michigan and Green Bay give us. Last winter we all heard about the Lake Superior ice caves. Door County has its own answer to those. And while, arguably, less dramatic, they are beautiful, numerous and observable from shore.

One of the most reliable places to witness these dramatic sculptures of nature is the shoreline below Door Bluff Headlands County Park. This park occupies the extreme northeast point of land on the Peninsula. Be aware that getting to the shore from the parking area requires a bit of a scramble down the “stair steps” of the escarpment to the ice below.

Another spot that offers great winter ice is Door County’s most popular lighthouse, Cana Island. The table rock shoals surrounding the island work together with Lake Michigan winds to stack and accumulate slabs of ice that are then enhanced by the spray off the Lake. The natural thawing/freezing cycles further shape the assemblages into fantastic forms.

Your humble Innkeeper & a friend paddling among Peninsula Park's bergs shortly after the thaw last May

More ice sculptures can be found along the miles of shoreline off Peninsula State Park. Towers of ice often build near Welckers Point or Horseshoe Island – the latter observable from Eagle Tower. A fascinating aspect of Door County’s shore ice is the cobalt blue glow that seems to emanate from within – almost as if they contain a powered light source.

 

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Door County’s Baileys Harbor hosts its Winter Carnival February 6 – 8th

Baileys Harbor‘s 2nd annual Winter Carnival starts off on Friday, February 6th with the band, Dead Horses, playing at Door County Brewing.  You can enjoy some of their wonderful, unique brews as the band plays from 7 until 9 that evening.

On Saturday, the 7th, you can start your morning with the Ridges Sanctuary’s pancake breakfast at the Baileys Harbor Town Hall from 9 – 11 a.m.  But the weekend’s main activities take place on Kangaroo Lake with the Door County Pond Hockey Tournament beginning at 8 a .m. and going until a victor is declared sometime in the late afternoon.  Also at Kangaroo Lake are the radar speed runs for snowmobiles, ATVs or any other motorized vehicle that can navigate the ice. $5 buys all the speed runs your machine can handle – spectating is free.  A free Door County Trolley will be shuttling between the Town Hall and Kangaroo Lake from 10 until 3.

There will be more live music on Saturday afternoon with Dirty Deuce playing in the tent while brats, hot dogs, chili and hot drinks are served.  Visit the snow bar for adult drinks. Even more live music happens that evening as Door County Brewing hosts Eric Lambert and Friends from 7 – 9 p.m.

On Sunday the Baileys Harbor Farm Market will have a rare winter opening from 10 until 2.  Finally, there will be a free Door Shakespeare performance at Door County Brewing beginning at 1 p.m. Their merry troop will perform “Slings and Arrows” a collection of love-related scenes from the Bard.

Take advantage of the Blacksmith Inn on the Shore’s “Stay a Bit Longer” special:  Stay 3 consecutive nights and one of them (a weeknight) will be free.

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Swimmin’ In Live Music

On Friday night we enjoyed a concert at the Door Community Auditorium by one of our favorite performing artists, Jeff Tweedy. Best known as the songwriter and frontman for the band, WILCO, Mr. Tweedy gave us a delicious solo sampling from his very large body of work dating back over the last 2 decades.

As I sat listening I couldn’t help but feel amazed at the vast number of music and arts offerings we have in, what is essentially, a very rural area. A quick glance at today’s Peninsula Pulse list of live music events tells me that I can catch the Fairland Family Bluegrass Band at a church service, the Nicks (a favorite local jam band) on the water at the Gordon Lodge, the Dave Steffen Band (blues) at Stone Harbor and Taj Weekes (reggae) at the Peg Egan Performing Arts Center. These are just what catches my eye from among the 15 – 20 other music performances going on today. And most are free! (I write this on a Sunday which has fewer concerts than Fridays and Saturdays)

The Communities of Door County have coordinated their concert schedules so that you can catch a free concert somewhere in the area every night of the week during the summer and early fall – Sundays in Egg Harbor, Wednesdays in Sister Bay, Fridays in Baileys Harbor, etc… And these are all in family-friendly park settings.

All of us at the Blacksmith Inn On The Shore are music lovers and enjoy helping our guests connect with the entertainment that they love. Before you visit you might want to check out ppulse.com for their daily schedules. The websites for the individual Door County villages will list their free concerts. And you can see what is playing at the Door Community Auditorium and the Peg Egan Performing Arts Center, respectively, at: dcauditorium.com and theartofmusiclive.com.

So come on up and enjoy the Door County music scene with us!

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An Embarrassment of Arts

It is at this time of the year that we in Door County feel suddenly overwhelmed by the arts, both performing and visual. Granted: We are fortunate enough to live in the midst of many talented people who share their art with us every day of the year. But when late June rolls around Door County comes alive with what those folks have been creating and saving for us since last Fall!

The most obvious of these riches is the season opening of two of our professional theater companies: Peninsula Players and American Folklore Theatre. The “Players” opening show this year is the world premiere of a comedy entitled “Making God Laugh”. Although I’ve yet to see it I’ve been hearing rave reviews from many Inn guests and friends who have.

American Folklore Theatre’s stage in the woods of Peninsula Park is hosting 2 old friends and one newcomer. The troupe is reprising its venerated “Lumberjacks in Love” and its smash hit from the last two Fall seasons: “Guys and Does”. The brand new creation is “Bing! The Cherry Musical”. I can’t wait to take in a performance of this world premiere as staged by these professionally silly sentimentalists!

We are also just two weeks away from the opening of Door Shakespeare’s season. This year’s schedule rotates between performances of the Bard’s Twelfth Night and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. You owe it to yourself to experience one of Door Shakespeare’s productions in the forest setting of Lawrence University’s Bjorklunden estate outside of Baileys Harbor (you can walk or bike there from the Inn!).

I’ll talk more about Door County’s hyperactive Summer arts scene in future posts. Suffice it to say that, with the three professional theater companies plus all of the other acting, music, other performance and visual arts offerings, we truly have an embarrassment of riches here from June through October.

I hope to see you in the audience this Summer!

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New Beginnings

Spring is always a magic time here in Door County. This year, in particular, we are feeling very grateful for the awakening taking place outside the door of the Blacksmith Inn On The Shore. This “awakening” has been very slow to arrive. Last week I ran into a naturalist friend who pointed out that this year our spring is three weeks behind the “normal”. In contrast last year spring was three weeks ahead of norm. So, with last year as a point of reference, we are six weeks behind!

This morning as I stepped outside with our dogs, Esme and Lily, I was serenaded by two goldfinches sitting in one of the serviceberry trees next to the Harbor House. The song was so beautiful and I listened so long and intently that the dogs finally had to remind me that we were outside for their morning “business” and not for my auditory pleasure.

The swale between the Blacksmith Inn and the beach is loaded with all species if birds just singing their hearts out. At night the chorus of spring peepers swells to a sometimes almost deafening level before diminishing to the normal decibels required for frog/toad romance.

Almost every Blacksmith Inn guest this week has commented on the “entertainment” just outside their door. As we approach the Memorial Day weekend we are appreciative of the little slice of paradise we have here in Baileys Harbor. And we are so happy that we get to share it with so many others who treasure it for what it is.

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