HistoryPrize to include lakeshore from St. Joseph to Frankfort; set to debut in 2017.

November 19, 2015

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief. 

FRANKFORT — HistoryPrize, a history competition based on the concept of Grand Rapids’ Art Prize, is scheduled to be held June 9 through June 19, 2017. The inaugural event was originally scheduled to be held in Mason County in 2016, however a conflict between the event’s founder, Mara MacKay and the local committee, resulted in the event to be canceled. Now, the event is scheduled to be held in a geographical area that spans over 200 miles from St. Joseph to Frankfort.

MacKay has released information to the media announcing the change. 

According to the press release, participants can exhibit or explore historical collections, living history reenactments, folk art presentations, traditional arts, or other creative forms of historical expression.

When MacKay and a locally-based committee parted ways in February of this year, she had originally stated that she would continue to plan the event for the Ludington area.

“This event has lots of supporters around the region who have expressed a desire to see this event happen in Mason County,” she stated in February. “I have been in contact with many of the supporters already and they have stated they will continue to provide their support.”

The change to become a more wide-spread event happened through the advice of the event’s organizers, MacKay said.

“Several factors, in particular, increased participation from project supporters located north and south of Ludington. The natural evolution came when all of us were sitting around the table,” she said. “The representation spanned over 200-miles and it naturally made sense to enlarge the conversation. Once the idea took hold, the scope of the project grew, and the excitement along with it. Organizers feel this wine-tour style approach is going to be more fitting of HistoryPrize than a single-city event.”

HistoryPrize will include three main categories: living history, collections and fixed-exhibits. Participants will compete for $150,000 in prizes.

Activities will take place on a playing field called the HistoryPrize “History

District” that spans from St. Joseph’s lighthouse to Point Betsie Lighthouse in Frankfort.

“The playing field is 200-miles long with Lake Michigan as the event’s natural backdrop,” MacKay stated. “Organizers are welcoming museums, historical societies, state or nationally recognized historic places, businesses, tourism attractions, family friendly sites, and participating communities west of Highway 31 to be involved.

“Rules for participants will keep the event as open as possible to achieve satisfaction by all participants. Daily start and end times would be one example of a helpful rule. Rules will be posted by or before October 30, 2016. Venues determine who exhibits at their location and venues take all responsibility for exhibits at their sites. Popular vote determines the winner in each category. Venues prizes will determined by juried vote.

“West Michigan coastal playing field means that history presenters will be able to select from a wide variety of cultural and historical sites with significantly more indoor and outdoor venues to choose from,” MacKay said.

“Beach towns along the playing field will be invited to consider how their neighborhoods or historical sites can display heritage. Towns can choose an era to concentrate on, specifically, or they can think about one of the categories, and use the HistoryPrize platform, creatively.

“When you come to HistoryPrize expect to see historically-themed puppets, storytellers, and larger than life vintage games that can be played in real-time history. There are relatively few limitations on what the creative and engaged mind could dream-up for this event.”

Those who wish to participate in, volunteer or donate may contact MacKay at mara@historyprize.org.

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