Category Archives: Business Highlight

NAFTA Renegotiation Could Affect Huron County


Recent statements by President Trump on to exit the NAFTA trade agreement is rising concerns of Michigan farmers. In October 2017, Jamie Clover Adams, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development stated, “Trade with Canada and Mexico is absolutely vital for agriculture in Michigan,” said Clover Adams. “As our federal governments continue to negotiate a modernized NAFTA, it is imperative that the gains agriculture has made under NAFTA are preserved and that we ‘do no harm’ so that agricultural trade with our North American neighbors can continue to grow and prosper.”

Huron County is one of the largest exporters of Black Beans to Mexico. If the NAFTA trade deal is scraped or severely amended there is concern it could impact Michigan farmers directly with loss of markets. 

North American food industry experts indicated that nearly $43 billion in food and agricultultural goods were sold to Canada and Mexico in 2016. In November 2017 the US Department of Agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters in Washington that he’s working with the White House and Congress to come up with a plan to protect farmers in the event of a NAFTA pull-out.



Films Made in Michigan

Below is a list of select films made in Michigan in 2011. The Michigan Film Board reported on 46 productions took place in Michigan from 2010-2012.

Oz Great and Powerful 

A small-time magician with questionable ethics arrives in a magical land and must choose between becoming a good man or a great one.


Set in the 1960s, three sisters form girl group and soon become local sensations with major label interest, but fame becomes a challenge as the close-knit family begins to fall apart.

Spy Kids All the Time in the World 4D

A retired spy is called back into action, and to bond with her new step-children, she invites them along for the adventure to stop the evil Timekeeper from taking over the world. The post-production work for Spy Kids 4D was done in Birmingham, Michigan in the Spring of 2011. 

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World,” starred Antonio Banderas and Jessica Alba.

Margarine Wars

60’s Psychedelic Counterculture clash during the “Summer of Love,” when an aspiring hippie Afro-Jew from New York dupes the son of a Swedish dairy farmer into smuggling illegal margarine into butter rich Wisconsin.


Hanklin Purvis enjoys the outdoors, and he loves to hunt. He and his wife, Dorothy, live on a farm in the rural midwest. For some reason, during the season before autumn, things start to happen.

The movie is based on ‘The Legend’ by Steve Cook for an April Fool’s day joke, which was made up of different sightings of ‘dogman’ – there is such a thing as ‘the Michigan Dogman’, which was first reported all the way back in 1887.


The Best Burger In the Thumb

[Ed Note: This pub has not been visited in several years. I’m uncertain where Julz is these days. But the Hitching Post is an Oasis during the high crowds at Cheeseburger Festival]

I’m a cheeseburger hound. I’m one of those who never seem to turn down going to some pub to grab a cheeseburger and a beer. At my age, the waistline seems to have come more front and center. So I find myself getting more fussy about where I’m going to indulge in one of my favorite peasant foods.

You would think that the annual Cheeseburger festival in Caseville would turn out some of the finest burgers on bun concoctions in the area. However, the event has swelled to such a size that the rule is quantity, not quality and cook it until it resembles a hockey puck. I haven’t had a burger in Caseville in several years.

Hitching Post

When the party is in high gear during Cheeseburger festival in Caseville we find ourselves in the little town of Elkton about ten minutes away. There you will find the Hitching Post Inn. The Post is located in a historical hotel that was also once a church. (The stained glass still in place). This is a great Bar Burger joint. The owners are working to establish a solid business and have won over the locals. In 2011 they put in a new bar so updating is constant. This is a great place to come when the crowds in nearby Caseville get on your nerves.

Hitching Post Inn Elkton

It’s the best cheeseburger in the Thumb…period. Is it up with Michigan’s best? No. My designation of a great bar burger goes to the Shamrock in Utica Michigan.  However, the Hitching Post uses fresh local beef and all the staff pitch in and cook. Even the head bartender, Jelzs, can really cook up a bit of paradise on a bun.  The establishment has their own Facebook Page and a loyal group of subscribers. I’m one of them. Menu choice…Blue Cheese Burger.

Ice Cream Wars in Grindstone City

Oldest Store in Michigan’s Thumb

Grindstone General Store Grindstone City MichiganIt isn’t often that two shops offering the same fare open in a small town at the same time. But that is what is happening in Grindstone City. The Grindstone General Store is one of the oldest proprietorships in the Thumb. It’s well known for its huge ice cream cones served up for kids of all ages. The store also offers items produced by local artists.  What is less known is a relative newcomer; Rybak’s Ice Cream and Candy Shop just down the street operating in a historic building, built by Aaron Peer in 1881. Rybak’s offers high-end ice cream, homemade candy and assorted gifts from local artists. The shop once headquartered the Grindstone operations which the town is famous. The building has been beautifully restored. 

Rybak's Ice Cream Grindstone City

A Former Grindstone City Quarry Headquarters

A Great Lakes shipper, Captain Aaron Peer, sought shelter in the area’s natural harbor in 1834. As his crew explored the dense forest and rocky beach for shelter and firewood, the men came across huge flat rocks lying about the shore and forests. 

Rybak's Candy Counter Grindstone City

Grindstones Were the Areas First Industry

Taking samples south to Detroit, they found the stone (part of the Marshall Sandstone Formation) to be impeccably suited for paving streets, replacing Ohio flagstone as the preferred medium. Within a couple years, Captain Peer and his crew took advantage of the stone to sharpen their tools and began shaping them into grindstones shortly thereafter. A small port grew here as the industry took hold in the forest.

Rybak's Ice Cream Shop Grindstone City

In 1836,  Peer purchased 400 acres of land to establish a grindstone quarrying and manufacturing operation. The outcropping of Marshall Sandstone that Peer discovered was an abrasive stone with a very fine grit unique to Grindstone City and perfect for grindstones, scythe stones and hones. Worldwide demand soon earned the town the nickname of Grindstone Capital of the World. 

Rybecks Ice Cream Grindstone City

The town became largely a company-built town, with homes, a grist mill, wharves, and a booming industry with two quarries. A salt mining operation produced 125 barrels of salt each day during the 1870s, and the first railroad built into Grindstone City.

So next time you get a taste for ice cream or are sick of Cheeseburgers in Caseville make the effort to get to Grindstone City. The choices are awesome.

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Shocker – The Best Cheeseburger is NOT in Caseville!

shellysA couple of years ago our ThumbWind blog published a post that rattled the establishment in Caseville by stating that the best cheeseburger came from the Hitching Post in Elkton. At that time the locally famous burger chef,  “Jewels” made a cheeseburger so tasty that local golfers defected from golfing at Century Oaks (which was close to Hitching Post) to Scenic Golf Club when she started cooking and tending bar at Scenic. Those were gentler and tender times. We miss Jewels and wish her well.


This morning, after hitting the Farmers Market in Port Austin and White Church Gallery in Grindstone City we stopped by Shelley’s Bar. What a cool stop. Okay… I admit that the outside needs a bit more curb appeal. But stepping into this roadside tavern you can tell that the locals love this place. They had just finished a breakfast run and were shifting to lunch when we came in.


Clean, comfortable and friendly, are the first thoughts that came to mind as we settled in. Our server came in within a minute and we ordered an ice cold Molson drafts. “So cold your teeth ached.”, one of us noted. The highlights of the lunch were their wonderful “Turkey Reuben, while the sage diner among us ordered a cheeseburger medium with mustard and pickles.


As we were leaving, our cheeseburger connoisseur flagged down our server and asked to speak to the manager. Jackie came over and with a quizzed look ask if everything was OK. Our seasoned cheeseburger snob stated….”this is the best I’ve had all week, it’s excellent!” No small feat has this guy is a known as a regular at the world famous Councils in Bradenton, Florida.  Jackie was gracious and explained that they get a special grind from  McDonald Food and Family Center in Bad Axe and that they searched several times before they settled in with this well known local grocer. She credited the team in the kitchen has where all the magic happens.


So we have a new Best Cheeseburger in Huron County tagged as coming from Shelley’s Bar in Grindstone City. Their ice cold beer and fresh cut fries round out a great experience. It’s also evident that Shelly’s support local charities and sports teams around the Upper Thumb. ThumbWind will be back from time to time to ensure that they are the Best of the Upper Thumb.