Experience with Ann Arbor fair

I’m looking at applying to one of the summer shows in Ann Arbor,
MI…the The Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, July 21 -24, 2010 and the
Ann Arbor Street Fair, held at the same time. Does anyone have any
input on which is the better of the two shows? Or what sets them
apart from each other? Any info that would help in making a decision
regarding which one to apply to?

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

Beth Taylor

Beth, it really depends on the kind of work you create. I have been
attending these local events, semi regularly for 35 years, and have
noted how they have evolved.

The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair is the original, 51 years old, juried,
and offers only the highest quality, higher end work, often one of a
kind pieces. Last summer, I spoke with an assortment of artists
there, and learned that they may have just a handful of large sales
during the fair, but often get commissioned for future work. It is
the only fair located right on the University of Michigan campus.
Truly gorgeous pieces across a diverse range of media.

The Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair is located on State, Liberty, and Main
Streets, adjacent to the campus, and is probably better for artist’s
production work in the lower to mid price points. In other words, the
bread and butter work, which is more spontaneously purchased by fair
patrons! In this fair, the one ‘stands-out-of-the crowd’ jewelry
booth is always in front of the Abracadabra Jewelry and Gem Gallery
on Liberty. They carry work by James Binnion, Michael Daniels, Chris
Ploof, Lisa Jane Grant, among others, as well as work of their own
design. Their booth and store display always stops me dead in my
tracks, no matter how hot, tired, or wet I may be.

The flow of these two fairs is seamless, you really don’t notice
where one begins or ends. They have grown large enough, that you
really need 2 days to properly walk through, and see everything
once! These are healthy, vibrant, fun, friendly, and diverse fairs;
which seemed to do well last summer in spite of the poor economy.

Apply to one, or both, and I’ll be looking for your booth next


If you look on their websites you will find a lot of
The Street Art Fair is the original fair and has been under new
management the last few years. It has the generally well-earned
reputation of being the high end of all the shows. All of the other
shows tend to have a mix of good to okay to “whudda mean, calling
this art?”

The Street Art Fair is the most reasonably sized show and readily
accessible from the shuttle buses. Last year, I showed under the
auspices of the Michigan Silversmiths Guild at the Street Art Fair.
Guild members act as booth sitters for artists that need them.
Bathrooms are readily available at the beautiful School of Social
Work, which is centrally located.

In general, traffic was about half of what I’ve experienced in other
years and people were not spending money on mid-priced items. High
and low end items seemed to sell. Housing in Ann Arbor is expensive
unless you have a friend who lives anywhere near. Restuarants will be
packed unless you get out of the downtown areas. Parking on a daily
basis is not an issue because you can take the shuttle

AA art fair lore includes the tradition that there will be at least
one terrific storm during the 4 days and it will be really sticky,
hot, and humid at least one of the days. It is a tough show in that
it is 4 days on the concrete and most of it is unshaded. All said,
the Ann Arbor shows are wonderful. See if you can do a demonstration
to draw more people toyour booth.