Thursday, July 21, 2016

Introduction to Grand Rapids and LaughFest

I had been to Grand Rapids only once, for a short trip. I was happy to return with my friend Lisa to explore the city and attend my first LaughFest.

The annual event is in honor of Gilda Radner, a former comedian best known for her role on Saturday Night Live. Radner, who was married to fellow actor Gene Wilder, died in 1989 of ovarian cancer.

The Michigan native is the namesake of Gilda’s Club, which helps those affected by cancer. LaughFest raises money each year for this worthy cause.

Lisa and I checked into the largest hotel in the city, the Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton.

The hotel is quite opulent and the service was great from the start. Our room had a great view of the river.

We quickly got settled in and headed downtown to the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

As we walked the few blocks to the museum we could see that the entire city was ready for LaughFest.

Signs and logo products were everywhere, especially the art museum where the official headquarters was.

We spent some time going through the museum, which had quite a lot of art from Michigan artists as well as additional exhibits from around the world.

Lisa and I returned to the hotel for dinner at The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck. We found both the cocktail and food menu of small plates to be quite eclectic.

We ordered a Passionfruit Cosmopolitan and a Wolfgang Puck Margarita, and sat back trying to narrow down the menu. 

We ended up with a well-rounded group of small plates: Gnocchi, Kale, Roasted Mushroom Truffle Pizza (our favorite).

For dessert, we shared a Crème Brulee and a Chocolate Molten Cake.

After dinner, we left the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and headed to our first LaughFest event, comedian Anjelah Johnson at the Fountain Street Church.

This church is best described by the headline of their website, “Fountain Street Church is about deeds more than creeds.

About liberation more than salvation. About justice more than righteousness. If these principles strike a chord with you, please visit us.”

It is spectacular – especially the art and stained glass -- but it was a bit strange for some people having it used for adult comedy!

Lisa and I just enjoyed Anjelah’s show, which was quite good.

It was only about 9:00 when it finished and we decided to head over to The BOB for the Chris Farley Tribute Night.

The LaughFest event was over by the time we arrived, but we checked out this large restaurant, with multiple bars and stages for live music.

We wondered over to one of those bars at The BOB and were enamored with a drink on the menu: Not Your Father’s Float.

Although I’m not a beer drinker, I do love hard root beer and Not Your Father’s is my favorite.

Fortunately, we only ordered one because the huge concoction not only included the root beer, but also had Pinnacle Whipped Vodka, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce!

It took us a while to get through it. We decided we needed to burn the calories so we walked back to the Amway Grand Plaza by Hilton. It was a busy today, but the next was going to have even more for us to do in Grand Rapids.

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