We celebrated a glorious sunshine-filled day of yard games and Michigan craft beer at the 4th annual Chelsea Backyard Beer Garden. The ordinarily sedate Palmer Commons grounds were transformed into a gigantic backyard party. With local food, beverages, and, of course, tons of outdoor games, the Backyard Beer Garden had something for everyone.
Backyard Beer Garden 2023
I’m not sure how they do it, but the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce once again struck gold with the weather at this year’s Backyard Beer Garden. As we all know, Michigan weather is unpredictable at best. I’m unsure why anyone would want to become a weather forecaster in this state. That is one hell of a gig. Anyway, the weather at the Backyard Beer Garden has been exceptional each year, and this year was no exception. I’d dare say this was the best so far, with temps in the mid-70s and just a hint of a breeze under blue skies dotted with pillowy clouds. Perfect.
Beer Garden Feng Shui
While the main themes of food, beverages, games, and tunes rolling in the background remain the same, the setup and delivery changed for the better. Instead of fowling (bowling with footballs) taking over the bulk of the lawn at Palmer Commons, they were moved to the back. This allowed all the other games, as well as the food and beverages, to take center stage.
As Terris Arhens (Executive Director for the Chelsea Area Chamber) pointed out, it is sort of like how people always seem to gather in the kitchen during a party. The new setup pulled the crowd forward and evenly distributed them among the picnic tables, games, and various lawn chairs. This change enhanced the overall feeling of being at a backyard party.
Mike from IQ Audio was hanging with Jason Povlich and Brother Red Squirrel while spinning some tunes. Ok, no actual vinyl was spun, but he had the tunes rolling all the same. Mike had an interesting mix with 90’s high octane rock from Prodigy and Radiohead at the start of the day. Eventually, he worked into more of a classic rock groove, which was well recieved. Sadly, I did not hear any Earthless or Thin Lizzy, maybe next year.
Games Gone Rogue
All of your favorite outdoor games, such as cornhole, giant jenga, ring toss, and cup flip, as well as playing cards at the tables, were back this year. However, a few games were transformed thanks to the ingenuity of the kids in attendance. For example, Fricket changed from a game where you try to fly your frisbee between two poles with cups on top to one where you load up the end of the poles with a few more cups and then send those cups flying. I’m thankful no one lost an eye with that one.
Giant Kerplunk went from a game of skill and nerve to an all out duel. You see, the kerplunk sticks make for excellent rapiers for dueling. Regardless of whether the games were played as intended or not, it was clear from all the smiles that everyone was having a great time. Once again, we were all thankful as no injuries were reported.
Excellent Food and Libations
A bounty of tasty food was on hand from Grateful Crow, Smokehouse 52 BBQ, Cake by Kaity, Thompson’s Pizza, and Awesome Dogs. In the beverage department, the sky’s the limit. On top of water and pop, the Rotary Club had root beer floats. The Crazy Diamond was serving up margaritas and if you wanted to amp up your root beer float, they threw in a shot of vodka.
Ugly Dog Distillery served a high-powered cider cocktail featuring their salted caramel bourbon. Our friends at Withingtons were on hand with a selection of white, red, and orange wines from Lubanzi Wines out of South Africa. This winery has an extraordinary origin story concerning a dog that is definitely worth a read.
The beer selection was on point at the Backyard Beer Garden, with a nice selection of Michigan Craft beers. Beer from Founders, Bell’s, Roak, Keweenaw Brewing, North Peak, and Frankenmuth Brewing were on hand. I particularly enjoyed the Tropical Diabolical IPA from North Peak and the Oktoberfest from Frankenmuth. Each was simply fantastic on this spectacular day.
Many thanks to presenting sponsors Devil’s Haircut and The Crazy Diamond for bringing us another wonderful day at the Backyard Beer Garden. Also, a big thank you to the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce staff and their army of volunteers who make this event run smoothly year after year. Be sure to drop by the gallery for more pictures from the Backyard Beer Garden in Chelsea.
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