Ann Arbor Art Fairs
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Ann Arbor Art Fairs

The Ann Arbor Art Fair is a group of four award-winning, not-for-profit United States art fairs that take place annually in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Over 500,000 visitors attend the fairs each year. Prior to 2016, the fair ran Wednesday through Saturday, generally the third weekend in July. Beginning in 2016, the days shifted to Thursday through Sunday. [1]

The four official fairs are The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original; the State Street Art Fair; the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair; and Ann Arbor's South University Area Art Fair.[2][3]

In addition to art exhibits, the fairs feature music performances and children's activities.

The fairs

Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original

The oldest of the four, the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original, was established in 1960 by a collaboration between the Ann Arbor Art Association, the University of Michigan, and two business groups. Originally the Art Association did not believe artist would want their work to be displayed in the street stating, "No good artist will sit in the street." [4] The Association commissioned a study and eventually agreed to the idea.

The first fair attracted only 132 artist, 99 of them being local, by the third annual fair there were 220 artists.[4] It was the first fair to jury an outdoor show in 1965 and created the online jurying system Zapplication, now in use by fairs across the country.

The fair has initiated events like the Townie Street Party, a free kick off event takes place the Monday before the start of the fairs and gives the community a chance to celebrate the art fairs before the crowds come to town. Other programs like the Kid's Art Fair give young artists the opportunity to exhibit and sell their work. The New Artist Program allows university level artists to experience what it's like to fully participate in the Street Art Fair.

The Performances on the Lawn program is mix of music, dance and magic by local community groups and professionals.

The Original Fair introducing the Zero Waste Program in 2008 with a goal of minimal environmental impact. This program was one of three invited to present at the 2009 annual MFEA Conference.[5]

As a result of its leadership, The Original Fair has won awards, including the Governors Award (State of Michigan), several Reader's Choice Awards (Ann Arbor News, Ann Arbor Current), a Gold Pinnacle Award (International Festivals and Events Association), and the title of the Number One Art Fair in the country (according to the AmericanStyle magazine readers survey, October 2004).[5][6] It has made the list of Top Ten Fairs and Festivals every year since.

In 2003, the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original relocated to North University Avenue and the streets surrounding the landmark Burton Memorial Tower. The new location on the University of Michigan's Central Campus is set amidst elegant architecture and beautifully landscaped pedestrian walkways.

Ann Arbor State Street Art Fair

The State Street Area Art Fair is an art fair that combines 325 artists with merchant displays along the streets of Ann Arbor's campus area. It is one of four Ann Arbor fairs held concurrently each July.[7]

Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair

The Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair was established in 1960 and is run by The Guild of Artists & Artisans. Originally called the Free Arts Festival and held on the Diag, in the University of Michigan's Central Campus, in the mid-70s it was renamed to become the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair. Currently, it is held in two locations, one on State Street, and the other on Main Street and Liberty Street between Main and 4th Avenue. In addition to 375 professional artists, the fair also features performances and children's activities.[8]

Ann Arbor South University Art Fair

The Ann Arbor South University Art Fair is nationally recognized as a fine arts and crafts fair.[9]

Unofficial Fairs

Over the years, several unofficial, for-profit art fairs have piggybacked onto the Ann Arbor Art Fairs in an attempt to capitalize on its large attendance. One such fair is operated downtown in a privately owned parking lot off Liberty Street, directly adjacent to the State Street Area Art Fair. In 2009, another for-profit art fair, Ann Arbor Art Fair at Briarwood, began in the parking lot of Briarwood Mall, a staging area for shuttle busses that travel to and from downtown Ann Arbor during the Ann Arbor Art Fairs.

The art found at these fairs is generally priced lower than that found at the official Ann Arbor Art Fairs. This may be attributed to the lower booth fees charged by the shows' directors and the relatively lower experience level of the artists who exhibit here.

Art Fair Food

The usual fair food is offered such as French fries, cotton candy, funnel fries, caramel apples and fried Twinkies. However certain vendors also offer a variety of specialized cuisine from restaurants across the city. [10]

Protest from residents

Given the traffic disruption and the inconvenience of having a large number of visitors come in for the week, many Ann Arbor residents dislike the fairs and have protested against them, rallying under the slogan of "It's not art, and it's not fair."[11] In 2005, in an effort to cultivate a better relationship with locals, the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original started a tradition of holding a "Townie Street Party" on the Monday before the fairs begin.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Dunn, Patrick (2016-07-13). "Ann Arbor Art Fair switches up schedule, opens July 21". The Detroit News. Retrieved . 
  2. ^ "Official Event Guide" 2011 Ann Arbor Art Fair Guide Archived July 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "Ann Arbor Annual Events". Ann Arbor Observer. Retrieved . 
  4. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-12-18. Retrieved . 
  5. ^ a b c Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original. 27 June 2006
  6. ^ AmericanStyle. October 2004. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-12-18. Retrieved . 
  7. ^ State Street Area Art Fair.
  8. ^ "The 42nd Annual Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair." The Guild of Artists & Artisans. 8 August 2011.
  9. ^ "Ann Arbor's South University Art Fair website". Ann Arbor's South University Art Fair. Retrieved 2018. 
  10. ^ "Food Floozie" 28 July 2010
  11. ^ Richard Wiggins. "Please Swipe my Credit Card." Internet Outlook 20 July 1997. Accessed 27 June 2006.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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