We’re just a month away from Folktoberfest.  So far 76 people have registered, and I’m hopeful a few more will decide to make the trip or send a proxy. 

If this is your first Folktoberfest, rest assured you will feel at home immediately.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions; we’re here to help.  For a good portion of the event the FTF team will be wearing clown collars; that should make us easily recognizable. 

PARTICIPATION POINTS AND RAFFLES:  So, what will we be doing, you wonder?  And how should you prepare?

Those of you who registered by the first deadline (and that was just about everyone), already have 100 participation tickets to spend.  There will be opportunities to acquire more during the course of the event.

This year will be quite different in that, instead of showing what we already know, most of us will be learning things we never thought we’d do:  juggling, tricks with hula hoops, balloon tying, breakdancing, clowning, and magic.  Of course, there will be ample opportunity for everyone to learn, practice and ultimately show off these skills for participation points.  Moreover, there will be ways for those of us who are not as spry as we used to be to earn points without performing hula hoop tricks, hanging from silk streamers, or riding a unicycle.  Just watching has to count for something!

Here are the ways we anticipate you will earn tickets (which may be used in your choice of raffle jars):

1.     Attending training sessions with our professionals:  Jewls, the Clown; Magic Joe, magician and balloon tying expert; Matthew, the juggler (and poi expert and unicycle rider); and Kiki, the hoopster.

2.     Performing for us on Saturday night as part of our Wee Ring Circus event in one (or both) of two ways:  demonstrating the new circus arts skills you learned at the event OR performing something you planned and rehearsed (alone or with others) BEFORE the start of the event.  (If you need music for your performance, be sure to bring your own CD.)

3.     Marching in the Circus Parade after dinner on Saturday night (any circus-related costume is encouraged, not just your clown suit).

4.     Wearing your clown suit.

5.     Donating crazy clothing to the clowning workshop (more about this a bit later in this information sheet).

6.     Demonstrating your circus creativity by bringing some circus-themed item of your own creation:  sculpture, display, decoration for the head tables, collage, scrapbook pages, photo album, sewing project…..whatever strikes your fancy!  There is no limit to the number of fun mouse circus items you can bring.

7.     Offering assistance to our capable and ambitious (but sometimes overworked) event helpers.  They will be armed with participation tickets as thank-you gifts for your help.  We especially need a few volunteers to help with the auction (“running” envelopes and delivering purchased pieces—see Steve C and Mary M), setting up the stage for Saturday’s performance (see Donn F), handing out tickets at the end of each workshop (see Rea S), running errands (see Rea), decorating (see Rose K and Janelle H), working the Swap ‘n’ Sell (see Karen R), and probably a few other tasks that escape me now.  Don’t worry if you don’t know all of these people; they will be introduced at the opening session.

8.     “Finding” participation tickets in unexpected places.  It never hurts to be aware of your surroundings.

So far we know the raffle jars will contain prizes sent from Annette (OAKs), WFF pieces we’ve purchased (including a Pumpkin Junction and most of the new Halloween mice), and circus boxes designed and hand painted by Fantasy artist, Carolee Clark.  I’m still looking for other interesting extras to include.  If you have suggestions, let me know.

I’m not big on competition, and so tickets are just as likely to be awarded for “doing” as they are for “winning” at a Folktoberfest event.  Just being here is winning.

For item 5 above, we’re inviting those of you who have extra room in your suitcases or vehicles to bring some clown-type accessories for others who won’t have the room to bring crazy clothes for the clowning workshop on Friday night.  We’ve purchased some gloves, hats, ties and scarves to help this process along but we’d welcome your (laundered, of course) additions to the “pile” of clown gear we’re accumulating.  That way everyone can experience the “movement” that comes from flipping a scarf a certain way, or moving gloved hands, or wearing a funny hat or footgear.  Usable clothing items not retrieved by their owners will be donated to a local shelter.  Consequently, colorful warm hats, gloves, shirts/sweaters, and scarves are especially encouraged.  You might check garage sales, resale stores and thrift shops for these items, as well as far far back in your closet in that dark place where unused clothing hides.  The crazier, the better!

TRAVEL:  Suzan Smith is arranging carpools and has gathered information about limo/shuttle service for those of you traveling in small numbers or alone.  She can be reached at

The airport closest to Clare is called MBS (Midland/BayCity Saginaw) but it is not the only airport that is relatively convenient.  You might also consider Lansing, Flint, and even Grand Rapids as a way to get the best price on your tickets.  You will need to rent a car or pay for a shuttle trip to Clare, and sharing a ride will obviously reduce both time behind the wheel and expense.  Suzan will try to help you with those arrangements.

ACCOMMODATIONS:  Staying at the event hotel is usually the way to have the best experience. 

We’ll be at the Doherty Hotel (www.hoteldoherty).  To receive the event discounted room rate, tell them you are with the Wee Forest Folk group OR just tell them you’re with the mouse event.  This will be our fifth year with them; almost anyone who answers the phone at the reservation desk will know the group you mean (800-525-4115).  The staff there is very accommodating and eager to assist us in any way they can.  And I think you’ll agree the food is outstanding, much better than typical “convention” catering.

There are other places to stay in the area, if you are so inclined.  Mt. Pleasant is 30-40 minutes south (depending on how heavy a driving foot you have) and there are many, many motels there in a wide price range.  The newest hotel has a huge water slide and other amenities designed for kids.  Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort contains a 4-star hotel that is luxurious in every way.  It even includes an amazing Native American museum on site.  That’s the place to stay if you seek a truly pampered experience.  Rooms start at $149 per night.

Clare doesn’t have many options.  There is one chain motel (Days Inn) near the north expressway exit, a one-story 60s-type motel close to the Doherty on McEwan St. (Lone Pine Motel) and another one-level, old-fashioned motel on the south side of town (Crossroads Motel).  I’m guessing the two older motels are cheaper than the Doherty.  Our room rate this year is between $80 and $110 per night, depending on the type of room you choose.  The deluxe rooms are quite spacious and have a fireplace; the basic rooms contain two double-, two queen- or one king-size bed, plus the usual desk/table and entertainment console.  Some have refrigerators.

This is shameless self-promotion, but the weekend of Folktoberfest will be just about the end of the season at Snug Haven Lakeside Resort, 15 minutes to the north in Harrison (  If some of you wish to congregate around a campfire or admire the fall colors around the lake, that might be a location to consider for early arrivers or those of you planning to stay in the area for an extra day or two.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE HERE EARLY OR STAYING LATE:  If you arrive hungry, eat something at Cops ‘n’ Doughnuts and have your photo taken and your home town added to their world map.  A current contest running on Facebook has C ‘n’ D rated as the #1 bakery in the country and the #1 bakery in Michigan.  They’ve expanded far beyond their cinnamon roll and apple fritter roots.  A summer issue of Gourmet magazine rated their triple chocolate long john as one of the ten best desserts in the country.  They were pretty high on the Squeaker, as well (a long john with maple frosting and two strips of cooked bacon on top—a meal in itself, if you like to mix the sweet with the salty for breakfast).  They’re also offering several types of cronuts, if you’re really into fusion sweets.  Their homemade cookies are baked so large they require a small group to finish.  (I was told the portion sizes are based on the size of baked goods fed to inmates at the local jails.  This was confirmed at a bake sale I visited last summer to support the victim’s advocate program, where the cinnamon rolls were similarly gigantic.)  We’re thinking about ordering the apple and cherry Felon Fritters if we can’t find a source for elephant ears for the circus.  I’m sure no one will object.

If you’d like a little more upscale dining experience and fancier baked goods, try the Mulberry Café, basically across the side street from the Doherty Hotel.  They serve lemon curd with just about every breakfast item, which, to me, leaves an impression.  They also have a long, long list of homemade pie varieties.  The café is closed on Sundays but FTF guests have been known to order pies to take home, and the owner of the shop (and pie baker) comes in on Sunday to fill those orders so that everything is as fresh as it can be.

Clare’s main destination attraction is Jay’s Sporting Good, just outside of town on old 27.  This is the place to go if you need anything related to hunting, fishing, shooting, camping, trapping, boating… get the idea.  It’s huge.  Next door is a big Army Reserve store, if you need camo clothing or survival gear.  (I promise you those items will NOT be necessary for FTF.)

If you need supplies for your displays or other crafts you’ll be showing us at FTF, Clare probably has what you need.  There is a fruit/veggie market to the south that will have flowers and gourds and plenty of shops downtown:  a hardware, a stamping store, an antique store or two, a discount office supply store, a couple of grocery stores, a handmade arts-and-crafts store, several clothing stores, a flower store, and a big drugstore.  If you just need a general discount store, there is a Shopko to the south on old 27.

Clare itself has limited entertainment options for those of you who might be planning an earlier arrival or later departure (pretty much just a movie theater across the street from the Doherty).  However, you’ll probably have a vehicle, which gives you many more options.

As described above, Mt. Pleasant has a first-rate casino.  You might want to check to see what performers or events will be there during your stay in Clare.  It’s also a fun place for those of you who appreciate games of chance.  People DO win, or so I am told.

The area is also surrounded by golf courses, almost all open to the public.  One championship course, called Pohl Cat, in Mt. Pleasant might be of particular interest to those of you looking for a first-rate golf experience.  Players who just want to enjoy a pleasant day on a nice course will find no shortage of possibilities:  Riverwood in Mt. Pleasant, Tamaracks and Devil’s Knob in Clare, Snow Snake in Harrison (they also have off-roading and a zip line tour), the Quest in Houghton Lake, and probably even more.

About an hour and a half away is the German town of Frankenmuth.  Mousers who attend Folktoberfest frequently use the before or after time to visit the many attractions there:  Zehnders (outstanding family-style chicken dinners and about a dozen different food and gift shops), the Bavarian Inn (more chicken, baked goods and gift shops), Bronner’s (a year-round Christmas store of astonishing proportions), River Place Shopping Village, and many, many interesting shops including Michigan’s largest bead store and an entire store devoted to authentic Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks. 

If you head back to the expressway after visiting Frankenmuth (I-75) you’ll find you’re just an exit or two north of Birch Run, outlet shopping mecca extraordinaire.   The malls are not too busy in October because it’s still a little early for Christmas shopping.  They don’t have Coach but there are lots of other neat stores:  Lennox, Corning, Samsonite, and lots of clothing and shoe outlets.  (Sorry, no Marc Jacobs outlet or other store that sells cool mouse shoes…).

One year at FTF we visited a place called Warmbier’s in Auburn, also an easy drive from Clare.  It’s destination shopping for people who enjoy being surrounded (and I do mean surrounded—swaddled, even) by themed garden-y stuff:  gazing balls, silk flowers, giant outdoor clocks and thermometers, sun faces, funky benches—stuff like that.  They would also have lots of gourds, perennials and mums left at discount prices, if you’re driving home and you’re feeling ambitious.  If you’re into cement yard decorations, they probably have the largest selection of cast concrete forms around.  I’ve found it much less expensive to buy a gazing ball stand there and spray it myself over purchasing them at $100 each elsewhere.

A visit to Warmbier’s puts you in close proximity to Bayne’s Apple Orchard (apples, cider, and homemade pies and donuts plus a large gift shop selling everything from Halloween decorations to Polish pottery).  That’s on Midland Road near Freeland (not too far from the MBS airport).

If you’re planning an extended stay in Michigan, you’ve probably already considered an itinerary.  However, it never hurts to consider more options, and, if you didn’t build in enough time to do some sightseeing, there is always next year.

The “color” will still be outstanding if you head north to the Mackinaw Bridge and points beyond.  The coasts of Michigan offer beautiful vistas of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and there are lots of interesting shops and art/craft studios all along the lakeshore in towns with Native American and explorer names like Alpena, Cheboygan, Petoskey, Charlevoix, and Manistee.  Traverse City and the Leelanau Peninsula are popular tourist destinations, offering a variety of reasons to visit:  wineries (the Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Riesling and the NV Select Sweet Traverse Red are my all-time favorites—and they are cheap!!), stained glass studios, pottery studios, galleries, quaint antique shops and huge antique warehouses, and a variety of museums, parks, and restaurants.  If you’re traveling with children, consider the Children’s Museum, the State Theater, and Jacob ‘s Corn Maze or the Old Mission Corn Maze.  This is fruit country, and so apple orchards and cider mills are common sights in this part of the state.  (If you’re ever here in the spring, you’ll want to see the miles and miles of Traverse Bay cherry trees in bloom.)

MICE:  Naturally, there are several ways you might acquire extra mice while you are at FTF.

We will have just a live auction this year (no silent auction).  The charity pieces (a Circus Train Engine) will be limited to just six pieces total, which will make the auction a bit shorter than usual.  If you have some special mice (no current pieces) you’d like to put in the auction, please let us know that ahead of time so we can plan an appropriate time frame to accommodate the size of offerings ( or 989-539-4072).  Annette will be donating some one-of-a-kind embellished pieces for the raffles and auction, as well.

There will be a Swap ‘n’ Sell on Saturday morning, which is always a good place to purchase more pieces.  If you need a table, please send me an email.  There is no charge but we need to know how to set the room.

Of course, we will be raffling some very desirable pieces, including Pumpkin Junction.  Tickets can be purchased ($1 each, $15 for 20, or $50 for 100) or earned as you participate in various activities during the event.

It’s doubtful we will have any of this year’s pieces available for sale.  We’ve been asked to order exactly the number we sell (absolute deadline for sales is October 1 but the factory would appreciate updates this week before they turn their full attention to Halloween), which means no leftovers after the event.  That is good for all of us.  It means FTF pieces will be immediately “collectable” because everything will be SOLD OUT.  If you decide you need more….now is the time to order them.  Of course, if we DO somehow end up with a few, they will be sold at the event to make sure we can post the SOLD OUT sign when we leave.

MASTER LISTS:  For those of you who purchased the Master List last year, the update package will be 181 pages long. The new complete list is just under 300 pages.  I do not have prices as of this writing but will post them on both the WFFCC Facebook pages and on the WFFCC bulletin board.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:  Here is a draft of the event schedule.  Of course, it’s subject to tweaking here and there, but it will give you a basic idea of how we’re using our time this year.


1:00 - 3:00 PM Registration

1:00 - 2:00 PM beverages

2:00 - 3:30 PM fruit trays and veggie trays, beverages

4:00 - 5:00 PM Italian Buffet in Ballroom DE


6:00 - 9:00 PM  Clowning demonstration/instruction/practice in Ballroom ABC

6:00 - 7:00 PM  Presentation and activities by Jewls about Clowning

7:00 - 7:15 PM  Break and Snacks

7:15 - 8:00 PM  Clown Clothing and Make-up

8:00 - 8:15 PM  Break

8:15 - 9:00 PM  Being a Clown—putting it all together

9:00 - 9:30 PM  Questions, Wrap-Up


7:30 – 9:00 AM  Set up Swap ‘n’ Sell, Displays, arts/crafts, etc.—sellers and guests in Ballroom ABC

7:30 - 9:00 AM  Coffee and Tea Service

8:00 – 9:00 AM Saturday registration

9:00 - 10:00 AM  Continental Breakfast

9:00 - 10:30 AM Swap ‘n’ Sell and guest displays

10:30 AM Take down Swap ‘n’ Sell

11:15 AM Opening Remarks and Icebreaker in DE

12:30 - 1:30 PM  Buffet Lunch in DE

1:30 - 5:30 PM  Various Circus Demonstrations/Activities

1:30 - 2:15 PM  Magic with Magic Joe in Ballroom ABC

1:30 - 4:30 PM  Hula hoop tricks (in back lobby) with Kiki

2:30 - 4:00 PM  Juggling with Matt and crew in DE

4:10 - 5:00 PM  Balloon tying with Magic Joe in ABC

6:00 - 7:00 PM Grande Buffet Dinner in ABC

7:00 PM  Circus Parade

7:30 PM Wee Ring Circus Performances in ABC


8:00 - 9:00 AM Coffee, Tea, and Socializing in ABC

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Live Auction in Macgillicuddy

10:30 AM - Buffet Breakfast in ABC

11:00 AM - Prize and Raffle Drawings, Final Remarks, etc.


Thank you for planning to attend Folktoberfest this year.  It’s not too late to grab a neighbor, child, spouse and/or a friend and bring him/her/them along, too!  You have our promise everyone will have a great time.

Nancy Buerkel-Rothfuss, WFFCC founder and FTF event co-planner

Lorraine Buerkel, WFFCC director

Rea Simpson, FTF event co-planner