It’s pretty common to hear visitors describe Allegan as quaint and charming, and it is! Nestled in the southwest corner of Michigan, Allegan is a beautiful area. Characterized by historic architecture, highlighted by a beautiful downtown riverfront and boardwalk, and steeped in history and tradition, Allegan is very attractive to the many people who come and go. But to the people living in Allegan and its surrounding areas, there are as many descriptions of this place as there are residents. With a strong sense of community and small town feel, Allegan has a lot to offer.
Sense of Community
Rich and beautiful in its setting, history and diversity, Allegan will beckon you to come live, work and play. Living here, in Allegan, is worthwhile indeed.
— Liza Beth Rumery, Allegan resident, artist, mother
Antique shows, a successful arts council, an abundance of parades and one of the largest and — and most popular — county fairs in Michigan, Allegan will charm you with its activities. Close-knit and grounded, Allegan will entice you with its community.
Pieces of History
It’s hard to miss the historic timeline of Allegan with its many remarkable edifices. The Allegan District Library, a Carnegie Library constructed in the Craftsman/Prairie School style, incorporated in 1843 and opened its current location in 1914. Many churches in town — among the oldest structures in Allegan — were built in the Gothic Revival and Romanesque style, such as the United Methodist Church, the First Baptist Church and the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepard. The Griswold Auditorium, the Regent Theatre, the iron Second Street Bridge, and a plethora of historic homes along Allegan’s tree-lined streets were constructed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and are fine examples of Allegan’s delightful historic architecture.
As a rural community, Allegan is abundant with farms and farmers, amazing seasonal foods and winning livestock, and long highways bound by fields that lead to anywhere. Kayaks and canoes can be found following the winding ways of the Kalamazoo River. Allegan is surrounded by lakes and forests, hills and valleys, suitable for any beach-goer, fisherman, hiker, skier, swimmer, runner, cyclist, parks-and-recreation enthusiast and nature lover. If you seek peace and quiet, long drives, lazy summer days, snow-filled winters, lush vegetation, snow-shoeing or biking through the Allegan Forest, Allegan is the place for you.
Working, Living, Playing
Allegan is also a bustling business center, host to companies large and small. Many businesses have been family-owned and operated for generations. Others, such as Perrigo Company, were founded in and continue to grow in Allegan, employing more than 7,000 people worldwide. Allegan General Hospital was voted among the top 100 places to work in the U.S. two years in a row. Allegan is also home to many artists of all kinds — painters, writers, weavers, ceramicists, sculptors, and musicians — whose works continue to reflect the area in which they live. It also is a thriving entrepreneurial hub, and, as a flourishing county seat and enthusiastic city-center, Allegan remains a constant and stable foundation to its residents.
Allegan residents are proud of their public school system, which is committed to academics, sports and the arts. Generations of families have lived here, while former residents continue to return to Allegan to raise families and build futures. Allegan has become a destination place for living, working and playing as it is centrally located among larger cities, such as Holland, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, and other smaller towns like Fennville and Saugatuck. Only a half-an-hour’s drive to Lake Michigan and less than three hours drive to Chicago or Ann Arbor, Allegan makes any setting tangible.
Arts and Culture
The Allegan Area Arts Council is an all-volunteer organization that was established in 1998. Its mission has remained the same throughout its operation: to initiate and stimulate interest and participation in the arts in the Allegan area.
-Linda Clark, Allegan Area Arts Council Chairperson
The people of Allegan have always embraced the arts. During long winter months fathers taught sons the art of carving life-like decoys and mothers instructed daughters in the artistic arrangement of fabrics by color to create heirloom quilts. The natural beauty of the Allegan Forest and Kalamazoo River drew those with a penchant for painting to settle here. The fruits of this historic backdrop provide the framework for today’s Allegan Area Arts Council and the establishment of nonprofits and city committees, including the Arts & Entertainment Action Committee.
By partnering with other nonprofits and smaller arts organizations throughout the county, the Arts Council is able to offer summer arts camps for children as well as a county-wide high school arts scholarship program. The Arts Council also supports adult programming and events in the literary, dramatic, musical and visual arts.
The arts and entertainment offered in Allegan make it a wonderful, small city in which to raise a family. For a peek at what is offered, see the community calendar offered at Positively Allegan and these related community websites.
Entertainment, Festivals, Celebrations
Working with area organizers and nonprofits the Action Committee shares its volunteer base, media contacts and promotional expertise with anyone who has a great idea and the energy to follow through. The result is a series of events and festivals throughout the year that have made Allegan a destination for entertainment.
Dean Michaels and friends shake off the winter doldrums in March with an annual Cabaret Band Show. This wonderful musical event is a fundraiser for Wings of Hope Hospice and is in its 30th year of entertainment.
An April art show called Art in the Garden, an annual Blessing of The Bikes in May, the fabulous July 3 Jubilee with its astounding fireworks display and a late summer garden tour hosted by the Friends of Allegan Parks fill the City’s calendar for the first half of the year. There is music on Saturday nights in August on the riverfront and capping the end of the summer season is the Michigan Fiber Festival during the third week in August.
Fall is a special time in our rural community, as we celebrate the harvest. The first Friday after Labor Day finds thousands of Allegan area residents enjoying opening day at the Allegan County Fair. With its huge parade, midway rides, farm products and animal displays, the Fair provides ten days of delight. The Allegan County Historical Society maintains an historic village on the grounds of the Fair that celebrates the community’s lively past. The fairground also plays host to a 400-stall antique fair on the last Sunday of each month, May through September.
The Regent Theatre
The refurbished 1908 Regent Theatre (one of the few remaining single screen Art Deco movie theatres in the country) and the 1929 Griswold Auditorium are both run by Allegan’s Arts & Entertainment Department. The Regent partners with generous area businesses and individuals to sponsor free summer matinees for children. First run movies are shown each evening and matinees are offered on weekends. The Griswold Auditorium hosts various groups that support the arts such as the Allegan Community Players, Allegan Music Club and Camera Club in addition to concerts and other musical/dramatic events.