Festival of the Sun. Old Town Oktoberfest. Festival of the Moon. You’ve probably seen advertisements for these festivals around Michigan State’s campus, but have you actually been to one of these events? If you are an MSU student, then these events, hosted by the Old Town Commercial Association (OTCA), would be perfect for you.
The OTCA is a non-profit organization in Lansing that works to revitalize the Old Town district, which encompasses numerous businesses and restaurants that are just a few minutes away from campus. I had never heard of Old Town before becoming an intern at the OTCA, and I was thrilled to find such a wonderful and thriving community just 10 minutes from my apartment. Old Town has something for everyone, including bars, restaurants, galleries, boutiques, shops and even lofts and condos.
Festival of the Moon, on June 20, makes the shortest night of the year count by giving attendees a chance to sample micro-brewed beer while listening to talented bands. Festival of the Sun celebrates the summer solstice and is a beer, wine and gourmet food tasting event, complete with live music. Bands such as Ritmo, Root Doctor and The Lash have performed in previous years, and this year’s festival is expanding to include an acoustic stage in addition to the main performance stage. Old Town Oktoberfest, on Oct. 3 and 4, is mid-Michigan’s only German-style event, featuring authentic German food, music, dancing and souvenir mugs filled with world-renowned German beer. This event occurs during football season, and it is a great opportunity to take a break from tailgating festivities or celebrate after the game with friends and family.
Other great events occur in Old Town year-round: Shmooze on Tues, Taste & Tour of Old Town and Old Town Art Market are just a few. Shmooze on Tues occurs every second Tuesday of the month and includes specials at Old Town bars and restaurants beginning at 5:30 p.m. This is an excellent way to spend an otherwise boring Tuesday night out on the town while networking with other local residents. Taste & Tour of Old Town, on April 6, is a progressive food sampler and loft tour event that allows participants to taste a wide variety of Old Town’s cuisine while viewing lofts that are not normally open to the public. The Old Town Art Market, taking place at the end of May, gives creative students a chance to display and sell their artwork.
There are also numerous job and internship opportunities in Old Town Lansing. Students are always in need of employment, but they neglect to look right next door! In addition, the Old Town district has plenty of places to live, including lofts, condos, houses and apartments. This is a great place for MSU students or alumni to begin their careers.
For current students who are looking for additions to their resumes, or for those who have free time and want to get involved, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities available in Old Town. Participation in these events provides a fun way to network with business owners and community members while at the same time experiencing a “behind the scenes” look at the steps that lead up to planning different Old Town happenings. Volunteers participate in activities ranging from serving food at events to assisting with festival duties to planting flowers in the Old Town district. If you are interested in lending a hand, check out the OTCA’s Web site for additional information.
Old Town is an extremely cool place in Lansing, and students need to be made aware of the wide variety of events that are happening constantly. This community offers entertainment, employment options and volunteer opportunities, as well as a place to network or hang out with friends. More people need to become involved in the OTCA’s mission to grow and develop this flourishing community. Seriously, come check it out!

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