The 2015 Ann Arbor Art was July 15-18th this year. I was excited to attend on Friday, July 17th and fortunately picked a good weather day as the rain stopped in the early morning and it was not too humid or hot for most of the afternoon.

The Ann Arbor Art Fair celebrated it’s 56th year in 2015. Over 1100 artists participated from across the nation and it is by far the largest art fair in Michigan. It is quite a successful event for the community attracting more than 500, 000 attendees and is estimated to have an economic impact of $79 million each year. The event is actually comprised of four juried art fairs: Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original (56 years); State Street Art Fair (48 years); Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair (46 years); Ann Arbor’s South University Art Fair (16 years).

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I really enjoyed the artisan booths at this event and spent approximately five hours walking around at a moderate pace. You can easily spend a full eight hour day and leisurely explore and browse to your heart’s content. It is one of those fairs that as soon as you think you are on the last stretch, you turn a corner and find more to see. When you hit the “business/non profit” booths – do not turn around and head back as you will miss half the fair. I also recommend exploring the Kings Courtyard alley of vendors. I found my first treasure in this section, a hoodie that celebrates the Mitten state from Live.Love.Michigan. I also purchased myself a pair of sterling silver earrings from Robert and Teresa Nilsson based out of Florida.

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I am always on the hunt for unique gifts for family and friends and love it when I find birthday or Christmas treasures. My Dad is truly impossible to buy for and his birthday is next month so I was very happy to find a local photographer, Darren Brode from Motor City Images, who turns local Michigan pictures into fun merchandise. Gucci and Tucker were disappointed they were not able to attend this fair so we took small antler bones home. This was their first time trying antlers and they sure love them!

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There was a motivating vendor called Rebel Nell that helps disadvantaged women in Detroit get a fresh start. They educate on financial management, life wellness and business and empower these women to successfully transition into an independent life. Rebel Nell collects Detroit grafitti which has fallen from walls and teaches the women to turn these into beautiful pieces of wearable art such as cuff links, earrings, bracelets and pendants. I will end up purchasing from their online website as I regret not taking such a unique piece of jewelry home that supports a great cause. These are a great gift idea too!

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Plenty of parking is available between the assorted parking structures and lots in downtown Ann Arbor. The rates are higher for the event and you can expect to pay $15 for the day (reduced to $7 after 5:00 pm). The fair is very walkable though you will certainly obtain your pedometer steps for the day. I also learned Art-Go-Round mini buses are available to ride all day for free if the walking distance is not your preference. Besides all the downtown restaurants, the event itself features a decent food section with a wide selection of traditional fair food to enjoy. You are sure to find pulled pork, hotdogs , burgers along with cotton candy, funnel cakes and shaved ice.  You can also enjoy music and performances at various times each day at the Art Fair Main Stage.

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I highly recommend planning your trip for next year. I know I plan to attend. The event is scheduled July 21st-24th, moving to Thursday through Sunday. Maybe I will see you there!

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About Liz Ball

Liz Ball is a freelance writer focusing on Michigan travel and local events in her community.