Sometimes it’s the small towns that offer the biggest rewards, especially when a little light exploration unearths hidden treasures and divulges unique local attractions.
Williamston in Ingham County is such a place, with Grand River Avenue lazily doglegging through the city’s downtown district of historic buildings and unique storefronts —from the stately Andrews Hotel building to the nostalgic neon on the Sun Theatre’s marquee.
In 1834 Hiram and Joseph Putnam cut a road through the forest between what is now Stockbridge and the Red Cedar River. That road exists today as Williamston Road — and within the city limits, it is named Putnam Street in their honor.
In 1971, on the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of Williamston, a group of citizens created a festival to celebrate the occasion. So much fun was had that the Red Cedar Jubilee was created soon after. The jubilee has hosted many different types of events over the years, including bluegrass festivals, rodeos and carnivals. The festival is built on the idea of giving back to the community. The Duck Race helps fund the Sunrise Rotary Club. A steak sandwich from the food and beverage tent helps fund the local Lions Club program to purchase prescription glasses for the underprivileged.
Visiting Williamston provides a chance to take in a few of the area’s secrets.
Original Goat Yoga is located on a parcel of former farmland. Shawn Cannarile is the matriarch of Hilltop Views Farm and the second location of Original Goat Yoga. Imagine a goat nudging you to help you forget about your worries and stress. I think there is a reason that goats are called kids. They want to play. Although at Hilltop Views Farm, you’ll be playing with goats that have been rescued.
The Antiques Market of Williamston is a member of AntiqueTrail.com antiquetrail.com. People have an opportunity to rent spaces to sell their wares. Owner Bob Rogers prides himself on the “quality of products with one of the most comprehensive antique malls in Michigan.” Collectibles have to be from 1980 or before. Furniture is from 1965 or older. You won’t see bar codes at this business. The market is a full-service entity where you can receive anything from assistance with your purchase to help loading it into your vehicle.
Dave Porter’s Fireworks Glass Studio turns up the heat in Williamston — to 2,100 degrees to be exact. The business has showcased and celebrated its glass-blowing skills to customers around the world for 15 years.
Williamston City Hall was designed and built by Hiram E. Higbee. The main building was completed in November 1890. The small park in front of City Hall was designed to allow for gatherings, memorials and ceremonies.
McCormick Park is located just north of downtown Williamston on the banks of the Red Cedar River. The park has two play structures, a bandshell, baseball diamond, pickleball courts, sand volleyball and tetherball. The park has a paved path, many benches, two picnic shelters, a historical gazebo, a war memorial, restrooms and a concession stand. A highlight is the tree sculpture art that dots the park throughout the green space.