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First Things

July 2023

Something Musical

Booker T. Jones to perform

A collaboration among three community organizations and the State Theatre will lead to a free concert by Booker T. Jones at the State at 7 p.m. July 8.

Jones was the frontman for the R&B/funk band Booker T. and the M.G.’s. The concert, titled “Booker T. Jones: Celebrate 60 Years of Green Onions,” is a nod to the anniversary of the group’s instrumental tune, “Green Onions,” which was a No. 1 hit when released in 1962 and has appeared on many movie soundtracks since then.

The concert is sponsored by the Kalamazoo Public Library, the Black Arts and Cultural Center, the Gilmore and the State Theatre and is part of the 2023 Black Arts Festival and the library’s 150th anniversary celebration.
Jones, a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, record producer and arranger, has earned a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and continues to tour and record internationally.
Registration is required to attend and can be done at bit.ly/grnonion.

Something Heroic

Air Zoo hosts Justice League exhibit

Which DC Justice League superhero do you resemble? You can find out at an exhibit hosted by the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Center, 6151 Portage Road.

The interactive exhibit, DC Super Heroes: Discover Your Superpowers, opened May 26 and will remain through the end of August. It was created by the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Guests can join the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Cyborg to learn new skills, work together to solve problems, catch supervillains and learn which Justice League superhero they most resemble.

The Air Zoo’s hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Saturday and noon–5 p.m. Sunday. Admission to the Air Zoo is $12.95–$15.95 and free for children up to 4 years old. For more information, visit airzoo.org.

Something Informative

Historical walks throughout the month

You can delve into community history and architecture this month with several walks led by Lynn Houghton, the regional history curator for Western Michigan University’s Zhang Legacy Collections Center and a frequent Encore contributor.

These 60– to 90–minute walks are free, and no registration is required. Walks take place rain or shine, unless severe weather is predicted. Tour topics, dates and meeting locations are:

  • Vine Historic District, 8 a.m. July 7, Pearl and West Dutton streets.
  • Stuart Historic District, 6:30 p.m July 13, Woodward Avenue and West Main Street.
  • Village of Schoolcraft, 8 a.m. July 21, Burch Park, at Grand and West Clay streets.
  • Oakwood Park, 6:30 p.m. July 27, the former Oakwood Elementary, 3140 Laird Ave.

The walks are sponsored by Gazelle Sports, Discover Kalamazoo and the Zhang Legacy Collections Center. For more information, visit gazellesports.com.

Something Creative

Smithsonian exhibit lands in Three Rivers

The Smithsonian-created exhibit Spark! Places of Innovation will be at the Three Rivers Public Library from July 8–Aug. 19.

Through photography, video, objects and digital stories, this interactive exhibit explores the places, people and circumstances that spark technical, social, cultural or artistic innovation and invention in rural communities.


In conjunction with the exhibit, the library will feature an exhibit on innovations from Three Rivers, including information about Rocky Evans, who created the Accelerated Freefall Training Program for skydiving. It also will host a falconry class and Suds & Civilization, which will explore the social history of beer, wine and spirits.

Library hours are 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Monday–Friday and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit threeriverslibrary.org.

Something Aquatic

Sample paddle sports in July

If you’ve been wondering what’s up with SUPs (stand-up paddleboards), you can find out more about paddleboarding and other paddle sports every Tuesday evening this month at Ramona Park, 8600 S. Sprinkle Road, in Portage.

The city of Portage is hosting weekly Paddlesports Sampler classes from 6–8 p.m. that will introduce those ages 8 and older to canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding. Certified instructors and equipment will be on hand. There is a maximum of eight participants for each class, and registration, which is required, ends a week before each class starts.

The fee is $45 per class. For more information or to register, visit portagemi.gov/calendar.

Encore Magazine

Encore Magazine is Southwest Michigan’s Magazine, bringing readers intriguing images and stories of the good things, good works and great people of our corner of the mitten. Published 12 times a year, Encore in its fifth decade of serving Southwest Michigan, carrying on a historic tradition of being the premier lifestyle publication of the greater Kalamazoo area.

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