5 fun things to do in Grand Rapids this weekend (Sept. 15-17)

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – ArtPrize is officially back in town, which means Grand Rapids will be jam-packed with art, food, music, activities and scores of visitors traveling from all over to explore the international art competition over the next two weeks.

But ArtPrize isn’t the only fun event going on in the Grand Rapids area this weekend. We’ve also got the return of the African American Arts & Music Festival, the Michigan Apple Festival, a massive monster truck show, and a neighborhood street fair.

Keep scrolling to read our lineup of five cool events you should consider adding to your social calendar this weekend, Sept. 15-17.

1. Explore and vote on hundreds of art exhibits sprinkled throughout downtown Grand Rapids

Here’s everything you need to know if you’re planning to head down to ArtPrize this weekend.

The annual, international art competition that brings hundreds of sculptures, paintings, multimedia exhibits and performance art to downtown Grand Rapids kicked off Thursday, Sept. 14. This year, ArtPrize is bringing back its awards competition that will give a $125,000 prize to the art entry that gets the most public votes.

RELATED: Your guide to ArtPrize 2023

There are 700 art entries on display at 150 venues this year. Businesses, museums, government offices, churches and more host exhibits, all of which can be viewed free of charge. For a full list of venues, visit artprize.org/venues.

Most venues are clustered in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, including popular venues such as Amway Grand Plaza hotel, DeVos Place, Ah-Nab-Awen Park, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and more. The full event boundaries extend as far north as Dale Street, as far west as Alpine Avenue, as far south as Logan Street, and as far east as Lafayette Avenue.

Visitors with mobile smartphones can sign up to vote through ArtPrize’s website on mobile smartphones. Voting is done through the ArtPrize mobile website by scanning an entry’s QR code and voting for it. To sign up to vote, visit experience.artprize.org/vote.

Visitors can vote for as many entries as they want per day. However, you can’t vote for the same entry more than once.

First day of ArtPrize 2023

ArtPrize-goers walk through DeVos Place in Grand Rapids on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023. Matt Esh’s “Jeremy Spoke” (left) and Ralph Annunziata’s “’continualAbyss’” can be seen in the background. (Cory Morse | MLive.com) Cory Morse | MLive.com

2. The Sugarhill Gang performing downtown as part of African American Arts & Music Festival

An annual festival celebrating African American art, music, culture and people will return to downtown Grand Rapids this weekend.

The Grand Rapids African American Art & Music Festival is scheduled to take place at Rosa Parks Circle, 135 Monroe Center St. NW, on Friday, Sept. 15, from 4-10:30 p.m., and Saturday, Sept. 16, from noon to 10:30 p.m. The festival is free to attend, and there will be tons of live music, food, art and merchandise vendors.

Related: The Sugarhill Gang, hip hop icons, headlining Grand Rapids African American Art & Music Festival

Legendary rap group The Sugarhill Gang will be headlining the festival, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip hop in America this year. The group, best known for their hit song “Rapper’s Delight,” will take the stage from 9:15-10 p.m., according to a schedule posted on the event’s Facebook page.

Other scheduled performances include Lady Ace Boogie, Asamu Johnson and the Associate Blues Band, Avalon Cutts-Jones Music, Entyce, New City Kids and a Battle of the DJs.

For more information about the festival and to check-in on any updates, visit The Grand Rapids African American Art & Music Festival Facebook page.

3. Monster truck show coming to Van Andel Arena

Making its way into Grand Rapids for the first time ever, the Hot Wheels Monster Truck Live Glow Party will be roaring into Van Andel Arena on Saturday, Sept. 16, and Sunday, Sept. 17.

With an army of 10,000-pound monster trucks including the Bone Shaker, the Gunkster and the Mega Wrex, this popular family entertainment tour will light up the floor in outrageous monster trucks competitions and battles, according to the Hot Wheels Monster Truck website.

“The sheer size of these monster trucks and the exhilarating stunts they perform will entertain you beyond your wildest imagination,” a guide on the website reads. “You don’t want to miss seeing these massive vehicles smash, crash and race for glory.”

This monster show truck is unique because there’s no dirt – the show takes place on concrete. Ticket prices start at $20 for adults and $8 for kids ages 3-12. Kids ages 2 and under get in free. Tickets can be purchased at the Van Andel Arena box office or online at Ticketmaster.com.

4. Kick off the fall season at this Michigan Apple Festival

The official start of fall is right around the corner, which means it’s apple season here in Michigan. You can enjoy apple varieties picked from across the state, as well as cider, donuts, and other apple-related food and beverages, at the annual Michigan Apple Festival.

Held in Sparta, the Michigan Apple Festival is hosted by the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce and features tons of games, activities and a local history of apples in Michigan. It’s also a great opportunity to shop around and check out the many local businesses and vendors that will be on-site in downtown Sparta.

The festival will start at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, and throughout the evening there will be a vendor market, raffle, kids activities, a lush and a fireworks show to end the day at 9:15 p.m.

On Saturday, the festival starts at 10 a.m. and will run through 8 p.m., with activities like an apple pie baking contest, live music, the Michigan Apple Queen contest, an apple pie eating contest, live music and more.

For the full schedule of events, check out the event’s website at michiganapplefest.com.

5. Eastown neighborhood hosting street festival with arts, crafts, food and music

Grand Rapids’ self-proclaimed most eclectic neighborhood is hosting its own street fair filled with live music, arts, crafts, food and more this weekend.

The 50th annual Eastown Streetfair is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16. This outdoor festival will take place along Wealthy Street between Giddings Avenue and Lake Drive and includes the first block of Ethel Avenue and the Wealthy St. Hub Lot, according to the event’s website.

This street fair is described as “a family-friendly celebration of arts, crafts, food, music, and the Eastown neighborhood.” Attendees are asking to not bring their pets, according to the website.

Want more Grand Rapids-area news? Bookmark the local Grand Rapids news page or sign up for the free “3@3 Grand Rapids” daily newsletter.

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