Historic Barn Restoration Begins at Cornman Farms

For all the old buildings that slowly fall into disrepair until they are torn down (or just wither away), one local landmark will experience a happier fate as part of the development of Zingerman’s Cornman Farms in Dexter. Alex Young, Managing Partner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse and the driving force behind Cornman Farms is working with local architect Charles Bultman  to rescue the barn on his recently acquired property on Island Lake Road in Dexter.
(read more about Charles Bultman here)

Cornman and Barn

As the project begins, it might look to passers-by that the barn is being torn down, but that is not the case. Instead, the barn will be dismantled, piece by piece and every salvageable item will be tagged and shipped to a barnwright in Ohio, Christian and Son, who will begin the painstaking process of rebuilding the grand structure.

Architect Bultman notes eloquently that an event like this shouldn’t pass without notice:

History is told in retrospect, and often with great struggle to try to sort fact from fiction. Witnesses to many significant events can seem to not have the same experiences, as evidenced by accounts that sometimes vary wildly. But then these events are rarely cued up for us, and they do occur in real time, which can be faster than we might want to admit.

Some events however can come at us slowly and deliberately. And if we don’t stop to acknowledge them they pass in a flash. One such event begins this week in Dexter.

A barn that has stood in service to its Dexter farm since Dexter was founded, pre-dating the Civil War and possibly Michigan’s statehood, is going to be dismantled. To those of us who bring buildings to life, these moments give us great pause. As best we know right now, this barn has graced its property since the founding of Dexter; the adjacent house is said to have been built in 1834 and the barn either pre-dates that, or followed right after. Regardless of the date, this barn has been a landmark on Island Lake Road for generations and will be gone for the first time since the early 1800’s.

Bultman also notes that the case of barns is a special one in the world of historic preservation.

Sadly, most barns are not afforded this opportunity. Their descent is not interrupted and they languish; slowly decaying and sinking. This too should give us great pause, but it rarely does, due to the relentlessly slow pace of the decline.  But the work that begins this week and continues in the coming months will bring great change to the barn and the farm. And these events will highlight the fact that there is so much that is valuable and interesting in these old structures and that they can, and should, become as important in our future as they have been in our past.

The entire project is expected to last into the summer of 2014. The barn will be refurbished and brought back to its site, where it will be re-raised in approximately the same location it has occupied for well over a century. It will then begin its new life as an integral part of Zingerman’s Cornman Farms and will be the center of food celebrations for decades to come.



The making of a Sharon Hollow: Cheese maker and Creamery managing partner Aubrey Thomason walks us through the steps to creating an artisan cheese

The Legend of Sharon Hollow

Sharon Hollow is a little town (pop. 7,067) 26 miles Southwest of Ann Arbor and just up the road from Manchester, MI which was the first home of the Creamery. When John set up shop in Manchester in 2001 he began the tradition of naming his cheeses after communities in the area and our Sharon Hollow was born. Sharon Hollow is one of our cow’s milk cheese (using fresh milk we get from our friends at Calder Dairy in Carleton, MI) and, as always, we hand-ladle the curds to protect their delicate flavor and texture during the cheese-making process. We make Sharon Hollow in two flavors: Telicherry black pepper and garlic, or garlic and freshly-chopped chive. Its crisp, clean, milky flavor is accentuated by the strength of the garlic and either pepper or chives that run throughout.

Stop by our cheese shop on Plaza Drive and see cheese-making in action and make sure to ask for a taste. You can also sample Sharon Hollow at Zingerman’s Delicatessen and Roadhouse, stop or see us at one of the eight southeastern Michigan farmers markets we attend.


A Picnic With A Purpose

Mary H. Schlitt, Director of Development and Marketing of Food Gatherers, invites all Zingerman’s friends to come to Grillin’:

Want a glimpse of what Food Gatherers does on a daily basis? Go to Grillin’! Grillin’ is Food Gatherers annual fundraiser, held always the second Sunday of June (rain or shine). Just like our food rescue and food bank program, Grillin’ is a gathering of community goodwill; made possible by good food, caring volunteers and engaged donors. There’s the:

Food! Many of the tasty side dishes and desserts you will see at Grillin’ are donated by local restaurants and distributors who support Food Gatherers food rescue program on a daily basis. Founded by Zingerman’s Deli in 1988, Food Gatherers was the first food rescue program in Michigan and among the first six in the United States. Today, Food Gatherers distributes more than 5 million pounds of food to 150 non-profit programs serving our neighbors in need.

Volunteers! Those friendly faces who will be grilling your sausage, setting up the event and playing some groovy music onstage are volunteers; they are the passion and power behind your Grillin’ experience. These event volunteers are just a small sample of the nearly 6,000 individuals who donate their time to Food Gatherers operations annually.

Donors! From the sponsors to the Grillin’ guests, and to the food donors and silent auction donors; there are hundreds of folks who help ensure that most of the funds raised from Grillin’ fight hunger in our community. You can get involved! By purchasing just one adult ticket to Grillin, you can provide up to 120 meals for the 1 in 7 adults – and 1 in 6 children- who struggle with hunger in Washtenaw County. Food Gatherers exists because of the caring and generosity of many individuals in the community!

So slather on some sunscreen, bring a friend and your appetite, and we’ll save a seat for you! Grillin’ for Food Gatherers is Sunday, June 10 from 3-8PM at Washtenaw County Farm Council Grounds. In addition to great food, there will be live music from George Bedard and the Kingpins, The Appleseed Collective and Back Forty,kids activities, a food-inspired silent auction – it’s the best party of the year! Purchase tickets online now or at ticket sale locations: Zingerman’s Deli, Bakehouse or Roadhouse; Saline Picture Frame Co. and Dexter Picture Frame Co. or call 734-761-2796.


A Look Into the CINETOPIA International Film Festival

By Drew Waller, Director – Michigan Theater

What a difference a year can make right? Ask me this time last year — with 365 days of continuous film programming, live concerts and speaking engagements already keeping us up to our eyeballs in exciting activity here at the historic Michigan Theater — how close we were to delivering the first-ever international film festival for southeastern Michigan and I would have politely said, “I’m sorry, whaaaa?”

CINETOPIA International Film Festival, a dream of our executive director Russ Collins, for decades longer than it’s fair to say anyone should have to hold onto a dream without seeing it come to fruition, took its preliminary steps after a trio of successful years conducting events with Sundance Film Festival USA. That project, SSFUSA, was one of my first “wow” moments I helped with here at the Michigan when I walked in its doors as part of the executive team in late 2009.

To explain, Sundance as an organization wanted to expand its reach beyond its hometown of Park City, Utah and it did so with Russ and a network of art house cinemas across the country to deliver a concept called Sundance Film Festival USA. SSFUSA took Sundance-approved films of that given year’s festival and send them out to cities across the U.S., right when Sundance was still taking place each year in January to communities who may never get to see a film festival.

The success of Sundance Film Festival USA over the past three years here in Ann Arbor alone has helped expose a wider audience to the power of cinema of what was being debuted at this acclaimed winter international film festival. It has helped bring visionary directors like the Duplass brothers (CYRUS), Miguel Arteta (CEDAR RAPIDS), and soon-to-be success Jamie Travis (FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL…) to our town of Ann Arbor and leave in love with how we embraced their films. Brought respected screenwriters and actors like Oscar® nominee Jonah Hill, Lauren Miller and U-M alum James Wolk (ABC’s HAPPY ENDINGS) in front of sold out crowds of over 1,700 within our historic main theater to see what our friends and neighbors can really do to give a standing ovation to the art and entertainment of film.

If we could deliver that type of excitement for the area for three years, how hard could it be to do that same thing over four days in one year? Now THAT, is a good question and one we asked ourselves in late 2011. From it, came the genesis of this new venture: CINETOPIA International Film Festival. “Cine” from French “cinéma”, or the shortening of “cinématographe” (term coined by the Lumière brothers in the 1890s) and from Ancient Greek κίνημα (kinēma, “movement”) coupled with “topia” or the Ancient Greek of τόπος (topos, “place, region”). CINETOPIA aspires to be an international film festival that brings the best of the festival circuit, be it Tribeca, Toronto or yes, even Sundance to our market; powerful film from the foreign movie distribution groups we work with that may not see major distribution here in the States; the power of 3D as a medium and how close we can get to being there with the illusion of this expanding technology; and a focus on a near and dear product of the University of Michigan: screenwriting.

Now, sounds great on paper, or being relayed via blog post, but then what? Well, fast forward to the months over the first part of 2012 and you would witness an experiment in making something out of nothing. We looked to other film festivals like the Cleveland Film Festival to the south, Michael Moore’s incredibly successful traverse City Film festival to the north of us, to see what we could learn. We also looked to all of you through local businesses and partners to make sure as a non-profit we could fund such an undertaking. Many nails bitten to the quick, we are happy to say with folks like the team at Zingerman’s that we are able to deliver what you will see later this month, happening across three venues (one screen at the Michigan, one screen at the State Theatre, an U-M Angell Hall, Aud. A), over 30 films, and over the course of four days: Thursday, May 31 – Sunday, June 3 and you’re invited. All of Michigan and its neighboring states are invited. Heck, invite your relatives from anywhere and show them just how great Ann Arbor can be when we look to collectively welcome thousands to our humble downtown and show what it really means to love film!

How did we pick all these films and themes? Like everything Zingerman’s does, organically of course! A project of this size can’t just grow on hope alone. We needed to see what was out there building momentum, what films were getting the right amount of buzz, the right amount of care and the right amount of thought-provoking promotion to then welcome them to Ann Arbor. From that we have reached out to indie distributors, nationally respected movie houses and a mountain of other resources to get what you can now look at in its final form on our website. Trust me, it wasn’t easy (PLEASE NOTE: no Michigan Theater employees were injured during the deciding process of this festival) but completely worth the work and effort of our team.

We hope you consider yourself a part of this little nugget of local history and join us for as many films as you can over this special four-day fest. With your help, it can be nurtured and grow into something that we can all take pride in, look back years from now and say: “we made this” and smile as a town, a community and a landmark for cinema and culture.

Zingerman's News

May-June 2012 Newsletter

Download the Zingerman’s Newsletter for May-June 2012


Cinetopia: Ann Arbor’s Own International Film Festival

Russ Collins and his crew at the Michigan Theater have big plans. After all they’ve done over the years to restore Ann Arbor’s beautiful art house theater and bring us the best movies in the world, they’re going one big step beyond. This May, they are launching the Cinetopia International Film Festival from May 31-June 3 they’re bringing in over 30 films to be shown over four days.

Zingerman’s and the Michigan Theater have collaborated a lot over the years and I’ve had the pleasure of working with Russ, Drew Waller, Lee Berry, Amanda Bynum and other great folks on their staff. One of the big reasons that Ann Arbor was high on my list of possible places to move 12 years ago was because I was determined to live in a place where I could see small budget movies on a big screen down town. Thanks to the Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor has more movies than I can fit in my schedule. Though Russ will tell you that this year’s festival is a small step, I have no doubt they will exceed their wildest expectations in the coming years. That’s why Zingerman’s signed up to be a sponsor in the first year. When it grows in the festival they envision, we’ll be happy to have been there from the beginning. Their hope is to build a big, vibrant festival that will bring thousands of movies lovers from all around the region to Ann Arbor every year.

This year’s festival features 60 years of 3-D films and 3-D film technology and they will celebrate the work of UM screenwriting grad David Newman (“Bonnie & Clyde,” “What’s Up Doc” and “Superman”) and the silent film comedy of Harold Lloyd featuring a live appearance by Mr. Lloyd’s granddaughter Suzanne (who is curator of the Harold Lloyd Trust). Maybe most exciting for movie junkies, Cinetopia will also gather the best contemporary films now playing the international festival circuit.

Watch the trailer here and sign up for Cinetopia‘s mailing list to get the latest developments and ticket info. Pre-sales begin May 3.