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Oct. 17: Cranes, Colors and Cabernet Festival (and a lot of other Big 400 events)

Photo by Tom Hodgson. Sandhill crane in flight.
Photo by Tom Hodgson. Sandhill crane in flight.

Once again The Big 400 celebrates autumn with their Cranes, Colors and Cabernet Festival (and Cider too!) on Saturday, Oct. 17.

The Greater Sandhill Crane is celebrated with this fun, family-friendly festival. One of the largest crane sanctuaries in Michigan, the Haehnle Bird Sanctuary is located within The Big 400.

In the fall, Sandhill Cranes gather in staging areas like the Haehnle Sanctuary to begin the migration process. During the height of the staging period thousands of Cranes can be seen at the sanctuary.

The festival takes place around The Big 400, the tourism area surrounding the Waterloo and Pinckney Recreation Areas.

Here are some of the highlights:

Haehnle Bird Sanctuary

Seymour Road, Jackson – use GPS coordinates: 42.322, -84.289

The Jackson Audubon Society and the Michigan Audubon Society are teaming up together to offer a day filled with activities including a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Haehnle Sanctuary.

Noon: Nature walk tour with Haehnle naturalist

2 p.m: Nature walk tour with Haehnle naturalist

4 p.m: Celebration of 60 years/Talk on natural history of Greater Sandhill Crane by Gary Siegrist

4:30: Driving car tour to local hot spots to see cranes feeding in fields

5:30 – to dark: watch cranes return to roosting area at Haehnle, scopes available with bird ID by local experts

Free admission.

Legacy Land Conservancy

Cranes, Colors and Cabernet Walk

Sharon Hills Preserve, Sharon Hollow Road (between Walker and Washburn Roads), Manchester and Beckwith Preserve, E Main St on north side just after Maple intersection, Stockbridge

1-3:00 p.m.

As part of the Big 400’s fall celebration, join Legacy Land Conservancy for guided wine tasting hikes at two of our preserves: Sharon Hills Preserve just north of Manchester, or Beckwith Preserve in Stockbridge. Learn a bit about how and why trees change color in the fall. Each new bend or hilly alcove in the trail may feature a Sandhill Crane vineyard wine or show of anthocyanin color. Register for either walk at [email protected] or 734-302-5263.

Sandhill Crane Vineyards

4724 Walz Road, Jackson, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In honor of the Cranes, Colors and Cabernet Festival, the winery will release their new vintage of Cabernet Franc. This is the 4th Cabernet wine on the winery’s tasting list: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sassy Rose’ (Cabernet Franc dry rose’), and Staccato (blend with Cabernet Franc).

The winery is open until 7 p.m. for late Crane watchers to stop by and warm up after their visit to the Haehnle Sanctuary. They will offer tastes of mulled Staccato wine (a Cabernet Franc blend) all day to help warm any cold bird watchers. The winery’s new café will be open all day with several specials dishes prepared using Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Cabernet Franc.

For more information call 517.764.0679. Free admission. Wine tasting: $5 per person

Manchester Agri-Tour

Various locations around Manchester, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

For further information on this tour, please contact Ray Berg at [email protected]

The Manchester Agri-Tour bus tour will visit two farm locations for demonstrations on technology use in dairy production and the latest in organic farming, along with two historic locations for viewing of reconstructed farm and milling buildings and presentations on 19th century living in Manchester. Also included are a walking tour of downtown Manchester historic churches and the village green, with lunch served in Manchester.

The tour is sponsored by the Village of Manchester DDA and Chamber of Commerce, and funded by the Community Tourism Action Plan through the Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

J. Hayes State Park

Campground Activity Area, Oct. 17 at 4 p.m.

Come take a hike with the Park Ranger at W. J. Hayes State Park and learn about what the park has to offer, while viewing the beautiful fall colors. Hikers can meet in the Campground Activity Area before departing on a mile-long hike at 4 p.m.

The Big 400 area is a great spot for cider mills and apples. Here’s a partial list of mills and events:


The Common Grill 112 S. Main St., Special Menu Items, Buttermilk fried chicken with cider gravy and pork tenderloin with a cider pepper glaze

Cleary’s Pub 113 S. Main St., Special Menu Item, Butternut squash ravioli mixed a with apple cider cream sauce and crumbled dried          cranberries. Served with salad.

Oct. 10 and Oct. 24: Eddy Discovery Center, 17030 Bush Road, cider pressing demo.

Sandhill Crane Tour on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2 p.m. Discovery Center

Local expert Bill Wells will show a film about Sandhill Cranes and then lead a driving tour to view them around the Waterloo Recreation Area. Visitors can expect to see large flocks of these magnificent birds at close range. Bring binoculars and cameras.


Dexter Cider Mill, 3685 Central St., Dexter. (734) 426-8531

Jenny’s Farm Stand and Cider Mill, 8366 Island Lake Rd · (734) 424-3431


Alber’s Orchard and Cider Mill, 13011 Bethel Church Road, Manchester

For more information about The Big 400, click here.

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