This is a free week! I decided to write about an event I attended this weekend. It involves two of my favorite activities: performing and eating!
One of the advantages of living in West Michigan is that in less than an hour I can go from standing in downtown Grand Rapids (the second largest city in the state) to standing in the middle of a cornfield. It’s just as easy for me to attend cultural events in town as it is to enjoy small-town festivals. This past weekend the Zeeland Community Band performed at the annual Chicken Barbecue in Drenthe. Saturday was a gorgeous sunny day, and we set up in the shade of the leafy trees in Drenthe Grove Park. The softball team warned us to beware of foul balls, but fortunately there were no casualties!
The community of Drenthe is one of several tiny towns south of the corridor between Grand Rapids and Holland. It’s what we call a charter township, which means it’s larger and more autonomous than a village, but still subject to the authority of a nearby city (in this case, Zeeland). Like several other communities in the area, Drenthe is named for a region in the Netherlands, where a large percentage of residents claim their heritage. Most of the year it’s a sleepy little farm town, but for the annual Chicken Barbecue the roads going through it require extra personnel to direct traffic.
Each year, on the third Saturday of August, the citizens of Drenthe put on a huge celebration, complete with animal petting zoo, softball tournament, antique tractor display, and of course, mouth-watering chicken. People stand in line for the famous grilled chicken (or hot dogs for the little ones). According to the Holland Sentinal, 1700 half-chickens were served at last year’s celebration. Proceeds go toward improvements to the park. It’s so nice to see this tradition continue to flourish, even after sixty years.
Drenthe is the type of tight-knit community I had in mind when I wrote about a fictional town called Zutphen, Michigan. The people know each other and are willing to pitch in when there is a problem. Below are the book covers to my books featuring this town—just click on the cover you like to read more about it.