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Published: Thursday, 7/13/2006

Ann Arbor preparing for its annual arts mega-fair

BY TAHREE LANE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Ann Arbor art fairs, which attracts 500,000 visitors annually, making it the biggest art bazaar in the area, opens Wednesday and continues through July 22.

The oldest of the four events that turn the Michigan city's downtown into a walking village is the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, established in 1960 and featuring the work of 175 artists. Hundreds more artists and merchants sell handiwork and wares on the city's streets.

Artist demonstrations and the children's Imagination Stations will be near the Burton Carillon Tower on the main campus of the University of Michigan. Cirkus Twerkus performers will be at the tower in the mornings, and carillon concerts are scheduled at noon daily. The bell chamber and observation deck will be open from noon to 1 p.m. during the festival.

The performance stage at Liberty and Ashley streets offers nearly continuous entertainment from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Visitors seeking respite from sweltering heat can take a break at the cool-water "misting" station at the corner of Main and Liberty streets. Water bottles and comfortable shoes are a must at this expansive event.

Guide booklets with maps and schedules are available at the two information booths; one at Main and Liberty streets, the other at State Street and South University.

Fair hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Free parking with shuttle bus service every 15 minutes begins at 9 a.m. at Briarwood Mall (off I-94, the State Street exit 177, near the Sears store), and at Pioneer High School (at Main and Stadium streets, south of the Michigan Stadium, at the Seventh Street entrance). Shuttle bus fare is $3 round trip.

The Link, the Ann Arbor Transit Authority's purple buses, will travel the perimeter of the fairs, parking structures, and shuttle stops.

Wheelchairs can be reserved by calling 734-975-6800.

For bus and parking information, contact the AATA at 734-996-0400 or check on-line at www.theride.org.

Fair information is at the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-888-9487, www.artfair.org, or www.annarbor.org.

Contact Tahree Lane at:

tlane@theblade.com

or 419-724-6075.



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