Family Fun Day marks exhibit opening

ESCANABA — Anyone who loves the Great Lakes, both children and adults, can explore these wonders at the free Family Fun Day 1: Discover Our Great Lakes Saturday starting at 10 a.m., at the Bonifas Arts Center. Activities merge science and art and a concert will blend stories and songs.

Family Fun Day will celebrate the opening of the Bonifas’ Wooden Boats Afloat: Stories of Traditional Boat-building in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula exhibit, on display through Sept. 7.

From 10 to 11 a.m., during activities led by experts from Michigan Sea Grant (MISG), kids can learn about Great Lakes science and boating through hands-on creative activities and also enjoy games.

MISG, a cooperative program of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, is dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of the Great Lakes and coastal resources to keep “the lakes and the region vibrant,” according to the MISG website.

Next, a concert by Great Lakes musician Lee Murdock will start at noon. Murdock, fluent on the standard acoustic guitar as well as the 12-string, often sings significant, still-relevant stories from the past, his music combining ragtime, Irish, blues, and folk styles.

Since so much of Murdock’s art and work focuses on the history of sailing and boating, as well as current boating, the concert is a perfect addition to the Bonifas exhibit.

Listeners should expect songs about local waters and history, since Murdock loves tailoring part of each performance to the place where he sings–perhaps songs from or about the Green Bay region, Lake Michigan, and U.P. history — and he switches from one guitar to the other, often also including some a cappella songs, he said.

While moving through time and shifting focus — including ballads, work songs, and much more — ranging from “Our Vanquished Hero, Tecumseh” to “Let the Light from the Lighthouse (Shine on Me)” to “The Cumberland’s Crew” and far beyond–Murdock consistently, through stories and songs, asks listeners to truly imagine what people felt in the past, nearly insisting they feel at least some of their suffering and joys.