Out and About: Celebrating Summertime in Ann Arbor

WRITER | LISA BECKER CAMPBELL
PHOTOS | ANN ARBOR ARTS FESTIVAL & MYRA KLARMAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Something for Everyone

Ann Arbor is lovely in summer – a time to enjoy the local flavor of the quintessential college town in a relaxed atmosphere. From expansive, city-wide events to quaint niche markets, treasures await in arts, entertainment, food, and specialty celebrations.

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival is one of the most extensive events. Taking place from June 6 to July 4, the annual celebration presents over 175 performances, activities, exhibitions, and joie de vivre! Billed as a “boutique arts festival,” entertainment is provided in music, dance, comedy, film, and family genre as well as in more creative outlets such as “contemporary circus,” “spectacle,” and “street arts.”

The festival features both indoor and outdoor performances, most of which are free. Ticketed performances are hosted indoors on the Mainstage and have included such diverse, world-class artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Garrison Keillor, Willie Nelson, Elvis Costello, and many more. Diana Krall kicks off the Mainstage series on June 6.

The festival’s admission-free series “Top of the Park” will run six nights per week (starting at 5:00 p.m.) at vari- ous locales across the University of Michigan campus and in downtown Ann Arbor, June 9 through July 2. Activities include concerts, movies by moonlight, hands-on activities for kids, wellness classes, local food vendors, wine and beer tastings, and more. Visit a2sf.org or contact info@a2sf.org for more details.

Another expansive summer event is the community-wide Ann Arbor Art Fair – one of the largest outdoor art fairs in the nation. The annual event features over 1,000 artists, art demonstrations and activities, street performers, entertainment stages, purveyors of local food and drink, and a variety of sidewalk sales. The Art Fair takes place July 20-23 at four connected venues: the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original (Ingalls Mall), the State Street Art Fair (around State and Liberty), the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair (Main and Liberty and on campus), and the South University Art Fair.

With all these venues, there is an enjoyable experience awaiting anyone, whether a connoisseur of fine art or a parent who wants to entertain children. ArtFairs.VisitAnnArbor.org

Art and performances provide a visual feast, but Ann Arbor also celebrates literal feasts with two culinary events:

The Taste of Ann Arbor and Restaurant Week
Restaurant Week runs June 11–16 and is a delicious and economical way to enjoy the diverse flavors of the area. Promotions include lunch deals for $15 and three-course dinners at $28; many restaurants offer two-for-one pricing. The event hosts all sorts of restaurants with creative and healthy options.

One example among the many sumptuous, flavorful vendors is Arbor Brewing Company. Last year’s dinner offering included an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. The appetizers from which to choose were Balsamic Mushroom Kabobs, Mediterranean Salad, or Sweet and Spicy Thai Wings. The entrées were Vegan or Ceviche Tacos with Pickled Veggies, Chorizo and Marinated Tomato Mac & Cheese, Poached Salmon with Pineapple Salsa, or a Black Bean Burrito. Dessert offerings were ABC Delight (a pudding made with avocado, banana, and cocoa) or Dessert Bar Bites.

June 4 is the annual Taste of Ann Arbor. Forty restaurants set up on Main Street to showcase their specialties, priced for tasting only, from only $1 to $4. MainStreetAnnArbor.org and AnnArborRestaurantWeek.com.

True to the charm of a college town, Ann Arbor also hosts book festivals during the summer. Join bibliophiles at the Ann Arbor Book Festival, which takes place on West Washington, Saturday, June 17, and creatively features a “Book Crawl” throughout the community. Or visit the Ann Arbor Antiquarian Book Fair on May 21, where 40 antiquarian book dealers offer first editions, old and collectible books, children’s books, prints, and more. AnnArborBookFair.com or AABookFestival.org

The 22nd Annual African American Downtown Festival is June 3 and celebrates the contribution of African Americans to the development of the city. The festival features musical, theatrical and dance performances as well as crafts, merchandise, food, art, entertainment, and kids’ activities in what was once the center of Ann Arbor’s historical Black Business District.

The 17th annual Mayor’s Green Fair, hosted by the City of Ann Arbor Mayor’s office, takes place June 9 to celebrate the community environmental leadership as exhibited by citizens, nonprofits, governments, and business. Call (734) 794-6161.

So, regardless of your interests, there is something for everyone in Ann Arbor!