ANN ARBOR, Mich. - For most of the year, Ohioans think of Ann Arbor as "that town up north," but for four days every summer the city becomes the center of the art fair universe.
Four separate fairs stretching across the college town and around the University of Michigan are expected to attract an estimated 500,000 people to view and buy art from artists who have gathered from all over the country. The free event continues from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow.
Along with all that visual art is free music on four stages at various locations and times around the city and, of course, food that goes from standard carnival fare to some of the best around.
So, if you've never gone but plan to this year, here are a few suggestions to make that quick trip north easier:
•Light, airy clothing, a sun-shading hat, and sunscreen are crucial. Most important is to forget fashion and wear comfortable walking shoes. This is a walking event on one of the hottest weeks of the year. Comfort and common sense are paramount to enjoying yourself at the fair and not paying for it later.
•The best way to get to the fair from northwest Ohio is to take U.S. 23 north until you get to I-94. Take I-94 west (away from Detroit) until you arrive at the State Street exit. Take the exit and turn north (to your right) on State. Almost immediately you'll see an entrance on your left to Briarwood Mall (Hilton Boulevard). Drive in to the mall and take another left to the south of Sears and you'll find the best way to get to the fair: the bus.
•Parking free at the mall and taking the air-conditioned shuttle to the fair is the easiest and cheapest way to get to the action. It only costs $2 for a round-trip ticket (kids 5 and younger are free, school-age children are half price), runs every 10 to 15 minutes, and somebody else gets to deal with the crazy Ann Arbor traffic. The bus will deliver you to the edge of the fair on South University Street. From there you can walk east and enjoy the South University Street Art Fair or turn west and start at the State Street Art Fair.
•Don't be in a hurry. Stroll, look around, and if you see something you like, strike up a conversation with the artist. You'll be surprised how much artists love to talk about their work.
•Finally, with all the heat and walking, make sure you drink enough water, stop to rest, and stay cool. Cold bottled water can be found on every corner and most places only charge $1. If you are near Liberty Street, the Michigan Theater's doors are open. You can spend as much time as you need inside to cool down in air-conditioned comfort, free of charge.
Contact Wes Booher at:
or 419-724-6173.42.28188 -83.74848