LongerDays loves Muskegon! Our co-founder is originally from here, and moved the company back to Muskegon after it was founded in South Carolina. Our office is located in the burgeoning downtown district, and although not many of our clients are local, our employees love giving back to our community.
One of the most popular ways is volunteering with the Michigan Irish Music Festival.
About the Fest
The Michigan Irish Music Festival was started in Muskegon in 2000. They are a 100% volunteer operated, nonprofit organization that holds their primary event annually over the second weekend in September. The festival is held at Heritage Landing, which is also part of Downtown Muskegon, and includes four days of entertainment on six different stages, 23 market vendors, 13 food vendors, Highland Games presentations, Celtic Canines, an extensive Wee Ones’ area, and much more.
Giving back to the community is a big part of MIMF’s mission – and has been since its inception. Festival President and Sponsorship Director, Chris Zahrt, says: “Helping to provide food for local food pantries in Muskegon County is something we’re committed to. Feeding people has deep Irish ties, stemming back to the Great Famine. This is just another way we can put Irish culture in the forefront of people’s minds, and help our local community at the same time.
“Part of our mission states that we enhance the community through philanthropy,” Zahrt added. “Our Nonprofit Partners include the Boy Scouts, Muskegon Catholic Central Schools, USS LST 393, Reeths Puffer High School Techies, Rotary Club’s ‘Interact High School Club,’ Howmet Theater, and the Junior Lumberjacks.”
In 2017 alone, the festival gave $13,000 back to Muskegon Kids’ Food Basket (another one of our favorite charities), and $18,524 to Loaves and Fishes (a local food pantry). In addition, MIMF also collected non-perishable food items at the festival, and was able to give Loaves and Fishes 4,620 pounds of food to stock their pantries. Between KFB, the food pantries, and other nonprofit partners, MIMF was able to give back to our community with charitable donations totaling $49,803.
Since 2000, the festival has seen growth every year. In the last year alone, the festival’s attendance has grown by 19%, hitting a record number of 35,072 attendees in 2017. Not only does this help the food pantries (through what the festival is able to give back), it also fills up the two hotels in Downtown Muskegon during a weekend in September that is not traditionally a tourism season, helping bolster Muskegon’s tourism economy as well.
It’s not just their patrons that travel far and wide to come to the festival! They have volunteers come from all over the country to lend their time and talents, including people from Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Texas, and Massachusetts. 1,253 volunteers work over the weekend, compiling of 7,917 hours in just 4 days!
LongerDays doesn’t just partner with MIMF to volunteer at the festival, we also provide virtual business services for the festival year-round. About 95% of the graphics created for the festival are done by LongerDays (including billboards, programs, sponsorship presentations, and more). We answer their phone line, handle all ticket order fulfillment and distribution, and help with many other office tasks that are tough for the festival to handle, since they don’t have a brick-and-mortar office.
LongerDays loves organizations that bolster our community, and the Michigan Irish Music Festival fits the bill in many different ways. It’s easy to see why they’re one of our favorites!
Author: Andrew Zahrt of LongerDays