Cottage Outfitters Hosts Flannel Fest

February 11-12, this Friday and Saturday, is the annual Shanty Days celebration in Caseville, Michigan. If you love winter activities, you’ll love Shanty Days. This weekend is also Flannel Fest at Cottage Outfitters in Caseville!

Jonathon Bibby, owner of Cottage Outfitters, has been working diligently to prepare for Flannel Fest. The cabin room is amazing, and everyone who visits will be immediately captured by the need to stay for a while and enjoy the “up north” comfort.

Flannel Fest is about enjoying the winter weather while wearing a comfortable and warm flannel shirt. Jonathon has a great stock of Up North Flannels from which to choose. Just about any color combination, with many variations of plaid is ready and waiting for you.

New this year for Flannel Fest is a line of comfortable and warm hats called, “Trappers.” There are several colors available, like the one in the photo with buffalo plaid and fur.

Cottage Outfitters continues to be the place where folks love to shop for items for their home and cottage. Jonathon is a master at creating spaces that evoke feelings of comfort and peace. Not only is he a great designer, he’s one of those special people who will make you feel at home, no matter who you are.

During our visit today, I was really excited to see a big display of Sander’s Fudge Topping! Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? Everyone knows Sander’s ice cream toppings. I have to admit, fudge is my favorite, but the caramel is fabulous!

If you have never owned a flannel shirt, which, I think, is almost impossible to believe, you are in for a real treat. If you can imagine wrapping yourself in something that gives a sense of comfort, warmth, home, and “up north,” then you’ve just found a flannel shirt. The only problem will be you won’t want to take it off.

If you head for Caseville for Shanty Days, or just to get away for a while, make sure to stop at Cottage Outfitters and enjoy Flannel Fest. Say hello to Jonathon. But then again, he’ll say hello to you first, I’m sure.

It’s a Michigan Thing

I have mentioned my lovely wife many times and have also written about her Up North shirts. We have a lot of fun looking for flannel shirts to repurpose. She sells the shirts in a couple of stores and we have sold them in a local farmers’ market. She recently wrote the following.

“Michigan! Michigan’s geography is known through some common descriptors such as, ‘The Land of Many Waters,’ a ‘Winter Wonderland’ or a ‘Pleasant Peninsula.’ Michigan has four distinct seasons, which all have unique characteristics! And, it may be the only state where you use your hand to show people where you are from. ‘I live in the thumb,’ I say, and people look back with a confused expression. So, I then resort to the ‘one hundred miles north of Detroit’ reference and they knowingly nod.

“Michigan folks have the opportunity to enjoy vacationing year round if they wish. Every Michigander knows the term ‘Up North.’ Up North might be an hour’s drive to a destination in the thumb on the shoreline of Lake Huron or Saginaw Bay. It might be 200 miles north to the Straits of Mackinac or to the west, to the shores of Lake Michigan. There are numerous campgrounds and resorts sprinkled all over the state, and activities that we can enjoy through every season.

“It is upon this concept, which I chose to name my repurposed flannels ‘Up North Shirts.’ My ‘Up North Shirts’ are perfect for sitting around a campfire in the North woods or taking in the sunrise on your deck as you sip your morning coffee. It’s something you can throw on, on a chilly day as you dash out to get the mail or run to the grocery store. Each is versatile, cozy and soft, and feels comfortable against your skin. I never leave home without mine!”

Who doesn’t love a great flannel shirt? We had great fun this Christmas as my wife selected Up North shirts for everyone in our family.

It’s obvious she is the real writer of the family. She is a certified elementary English teacher, and even though the majority of her career was teaching Social Studies to middle school students, she taught English as well. It’s very similar to the years of music we performed together, and still do, once in a while. She is the real singer. My favorite, as a matter of fact.

Whether you are a Michigander, or you’re reading this in the UK, or Alaska, or Ireland, it’s important to find a great flannel shirt. (No, we don’t sell them online, or do mail-order, we don’t have a website – we’re not interested in starting down that road.) It’s just fun for us, and several people have been happy to find our Up North Flannels.

Here’s to many enjoyable nights around a crackling fire, snug in a flannel shirt while you sip your coffee.

The Up North Experience

People who live in the great state of Michigan actually argue over what it means to be up north. Most particularly, where up north actually begins. To some, it begins after travelers cross the beautiful Mackinac Bridge and begin to explore St. Ignace, Escanaba, and all points in the Upper Peninsula.

To many, up north means the beautiful region of Houghton and Higgins Lake. The fishing at Houghton Lake is unsurpassed. The beautiful blue water of Higgins Lake is known around the world. But still, there are many who say this very popular area is not truly up north.

Oddly enough, there are many who live in the southern areas of Michigan who consider the middle “thumb” region of the state to be up north. There are small lake areas south of where we live in the lower thumb that are favorite destinations of those seeking to go up north.

Up north is a state of mind. It involves a million different experiences all inspiring their own memories, each with a special feeling folks try to recreate by returning up north, wherever that may be. And that is the beautiful thing about going up north. You can have it wherever you are. Up north is yours to enjoy, whether it is in Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Otter Lake, Bay City, Mio, East Tawas, Clare, Gaylord, Ossineke, East Jordan, Brutus, Onaway, Rudyard, Brimley, Eckerman, or Au Train.

My wife has captured a little bit of up north with her Up North Flannels. A few years ago, while we enjoyed a trip to visit family in Tennessee, she purchased a flannel shirt that had been re-purposed and re-tagged. An idea was born. Why not do the same thing in our area and call the shirts Up North Flannels? She began by designing her own label, then started searching for used plaid flannel shirts.

Over the last three years her hobby has continued. Although two shops where she had a display of shirts have closed, she has two other stores specializing in home decor that also sell Up North Flannels.

We visit community thrift and other stores that sell used items. My wife has become very good at hunting and knows just where to find the shirts. Sometimes she finds just one or two, sometimes a bag full. We bring the shirts home where she washes and irons them. She then uses the iron to place her special Up North label. I get to help by sewing the label to the shirt. We have quite a production line going and we make a good team.

We recently have had great fun participating in a local Farmer’s Market. Our tent is surrounded by those who actually farm the items they sell but they have graciously allowed us to join them. Last week we decided to include home made cinnamon rolls which my wife named “Dale’s Delicious Delectable 3D” cinnamon rolls.

An Up North state of mind is a lot like A Coffee State of Mind. I don’t have to be enjoying a cup of coffee to have that state of mind. I can think about a delicious cup of steaming hot coffee and have the mind to enjoy the thought. I can think about the wonderful experience of being up north without actually being there and enjoy the state of mind all the same.

We all need to find that kind of thinking. Whether it’s enjoying traveling, spending time with family and friends, taking a walk, or listening to birds singing, our thoughts can take us there. If we stop for a moment and purposely think about the things we enjoy, we return to that state of mind.

It’s definitely time for more coffee. Literal coffee, not thought coffee.