Up Front

Many Things Fun

Downtown teeming with summer activities
Musical performances in Bates Alley.

Downtown Kalamazoo has woken from a pandemic slumber and is ready and raring to go. Beginning this month, downtown offers a host of in-person events and activities, including markets, live music, community art, exercise classes and “walktails.”

Big weekend, new name

Kicking off the schedule will be JumpstART Weekend June 3–6, previously called June Jubilee. It will include Art on the Mall, a new version of the Do-Dah Parade, and free gallery admission to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.

Art on the Mall, organized by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, will happen from noon–8 p.m. June 4 and 9 a.m.–5 p.m. June 5 on the Kalamazoo Mall and South Street. It will feature artworks of many types, demonstrations and live entertainment.

The much-loved Do-Dah Parade begins at 11 a.m. June 5 with a new socially distanced twist. Adhering to a theme of “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” parade units will be stationary and socially distanced throughout downtown and parade-goers can either walk or ride bikes on either side of the viewing space. More information can be found at dodahkzoo.com.

The KIA Arts Fair, one of the oldest fine-arts fairs in the U.S., is back this year but virtual as it celebrates its 70th anniversary. The fair will be online June 3–6, and art enthusiasts will be able to engage with the artists in real time and purchase art. Access will be available at kiarts.org. The KIA will also be offering free admission to its galleries during the weekend.

Outdoor music is back

Music lovers will find weekly opportunities to enjoy live local music downtown through Downtown Kalamazoo Partnership’s Beats on Bates and Music on the Mall series.

Beats on Bates will take place from 5:30–8:30 p.m. every Wednesday under the lights of Bates Alley, which runs parallel to Michigan Avenue between Portage Road and Edwards Street.

The lineup for June is:

  • June 2: Out of Favor Boys, blues
  • June 9: Kandace Lavender, poet, vocalist and hip-hop lyricist
  • June 16: An Dro, Celtic music and dance
  • June 23: Zion Lion Reggae Band, reggae
  • June 30: LaSoulfulRock, soul on saxophone and flute

Music on the Mall will bring live performances to the part of the Kalamazoo Mall across from Gazelle Sports from 3–6 p.m. Saturdays. This month’s lineup is:

  • June 12: Kevin Collins, jazz and percussion
  • June 19: Allie Garland, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist
  • June 26: J.Cam.G, Afro-beat, hip-hop and soul

Work out or shop

Downtown Kalamazoo Partnership is offering a way to be active through its weekly fitness class series Workout Wednesdays, from 5:30–6:30 p.m. in Bronson Park. The sessions are conducted by local fitness organizations, and the lineup for June is:

  • June 2: Bent 9 Hot Yoga, Barre & Fitness
  • June 9: Wellspring Dance Academy
  • June 16: Ascension Borgess Health & Fitness
  • June 23: Down Dog Yoga Center
  • June 30: Fit Bella Vei

If shopping is more your thing, downtown has you covered there too. In addition to the brick-and-mortar retail stores, an outdoor market will be offered by DKP on the second Saturday of every month on the north end of the Kalamazoo Mall (behind the Kalamazoo Valley Community College downtown campus). The market will feature 70-plus vendors, including "VITZ (Vintage in the Zoo) Mallmart,” with regional vendors of vintage wares, and “Zoo Flea,” offering craft and maker vendors.