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Summer Smells--Music Festivals in Olde Town Lansing

by Lauren Clarke
(Haslett, Michigan)

My husband, my father-in-law, and I went to Blues Fest a few years ago in “Old Town” Lansing. It was such a great time. It had just rained and the pavement had that wet, metallic smell of cars. The streets were closed off and the food smells from various food trucks wafted through the air. The sounds and smells were overwhelming—people laughing, loud music, hooting and hollering, Chinese food, barbecue, elephant ears, cotton candy, Mexican food—you name it, it will be there. Booze-smells, cigarettes, and patchouli floats off of the bodies in the crowd. I smell coffee beans from a nearby coffee shop that doubles as an art gallery. There is the smell of exhaust and motorcycles and gasoline-burning in the generators to run the event and fumes from nearby city traffic. Baskets of sweet-smelling petunias hang from old-fashioned light posts, where misting rain seems to hover above the lights in place of the usual halo of summer insects. There is an ice cream shop downtown, and even when you drive past it, you can smell vanilla and waffle cones. There also is a fish ladder and a dam—it’s the Grand River, I think—it smells fresh, but not as good as a lake. Jazz Fest is in “old town” Lansing this weekend—I will be there if I can convince someone to go with me! It has been so long since I have been to Olde Town, it is kind of sketchy there, you are probably safe, but people don’t usually go there at night unless there is a festival of some sort. The Creole Gallery is there. I remember there was a Cuban restaurant there for about a month—the lady there was going to teach us how to dance. I remember the food being starchy and sweet. Old Town smells like antiques, like potheads, like people having fun, like bad things, like good things, like memories.

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