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Ann Arbor Business Owners Are Excited For The Return Of The Art Fair This Year

Ann Arbor Art Fair
Ann Arbor Art Fair

The annual Ann Arbor Art Fair, which was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, is back this year taking place July 15th through the 17th. WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with Sandra Andrade, the executive director of the Ann Arbor Main Street Area Association, about what that means to area business owners and their special plans for this year's fair.

Lisa Barry: There have not been many traditional community activities over the past year and a half due to the pandemic, but that is changing, especially with the return of the Ann Arbor Art Fair. This is Lisa Barry, and, after being canceled last year due to the global health crisis, then canceled again this year, only to be reinstated a few weeks later, the 2021 Ann Arbor Art Fair is bringing the streets of Ann Arbor back to life with art and safely distanced visitors, of course. This is certainly good news to Ann Arbor businesses, and joining us to talk about that is the executive director of the Ann Arbor Main Street Area Association, Sandra Andrade. So good to talk to you.

Sandra Andrade
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU
89.1 WEMU
Sandra Andrade, executive director of the Ann Arbor Main Street Area Association.

Sandra Andrade: Good to talk to you.

Lisa Barry: Well, so how are Ann Arbor Main Street area business owners feeling about the return of the Art Fair this year?

Sandra Andrade: Everybody is really excited and grateful the pandemic is moving in the right direction, and so we can have the Art Fair in a safe way. We have half the amount of artists in our area than we have in the past, because we do want to maintain distancing, sell and space, because people, you know, it's good to have the space. But we are hopeful. So far, we've been hearing from across the country that fairs that have happened have passed what normal expectations would be. The people are itching to get out, and, hopefully, they've saved money and they can spend it in our downtown.

Lisa Barry: I think that's important for people who do want to come and get back out to hear that there will be different things happening this year to ensure their health and safety.

Sandra Andrade: Yep, absolutely. So everything's spaced out. Basically, in the past, you know, there's been like five artists back-to-back in a row. This year, it'll just be two. There's, like, little pods of two in the Main Street area and then spaced. And, also, we'll be having more restaurants come out onto the street. We've been working with the Guild, our partner with Art Fair, to give the restaurants more space in the street. That'll be an exciting addition and hopefully help continue to help our restaurants. And also, in addition to that, we will not have the food court, which we normally have in our area. So no elephant ears. But the restaurants are doing really fun things, though, so we're excited about that.

Lisa Barry: Can you tell us about some of the restaurant plans?

Sandra Andrade: Yeah. So I know, for example, Blue LLama, they're doing a Latin American pop up, and they're going to have empanadas, leche, and roasted corn, sangria and margaritas. Jim Brady is doing beer battered mahi fish tacos and crispy fried brussel sprouts. So, I do feel like they'll still be fried food, which is always, you know, at a fair. So, yeah. So those are some of the things that the restaurants are doing. I know Conor O'Neill's will be out. Real seafood, Avalon, Old Town, Pacific Rim, Grotto. So, yeah, so there'll be a lot of restaurants out which also adds to the atmosphere. I feel like a really fun experience, I think, for fairgoers.

Lisa Barry: Right. I mean, it's art, and it's food, and there's music.

Ann Arbor Art Fair
Credit Ann Arbor Art Fair / Facebook
Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair poster

Sandra Andrade: Yeah. So, the Ark, I mean this is just good for not only our retailers and restaurants but also the Ark has been closed for so long. So we're really excited to have the Ark hosting a stage and kind of have them back in action downtown. They've been around forever on Main Street, so it's a really good feeling. So yeah. So they'll have a little stage at the intersection of Main and Liberty. And Thursday night, the RFD boys will be playing, Friday will be Jill Jack and Saturday Nadim Azzam. So yeah, check that out. That's on the website as well. So that'll be good.

Lisa Barry: I know the store Four Directions recently changed hands, but they're also offering something during Art Fair?

Sandra Andrade: Yeah. So they're really excited. And I think when it's their first year, it's cool because you're excited and you have the energy to do stuff. So they're going to have three artists actually in house there and one will actually be painting, kind of giving demonstrations. But if you've been in there, the artwork is really cool. Hanging on the wall. There's some really neat landscapes. Those three artists, Alex Manzoor, Emily Carr, and Sarika Unique, that will be there. They're also getting a bunch of new inventory in some really cool deo's citrine. There's this really cool citron rock on their website. So they're amping up. And then our retailers are doing their sidewalk sales per usual. Running Fit, Sam's Store, Abracadabra, Underground Printing. So I'll have their sidewalk sales going on, which is huge and really important to their existence that you know they do that for Art Fair, because they do bring in so much money from that. So, so really grateful that they'll be able to do their sidewalk sales.

Lisa Barry: So it's the Ann Arbor Art Fair, but now talking to you, I realize there's so much more. There's food and fried food and music and sidewalk sales. So it's the return of everything really.

Sandra Andrade: Right. And David Zinn. I mean, so pre-pandemic 2019, David Zinn had done a scavenger hunt, and it's so great to have him back in action, too, and have be able to pay him. So he'll be doing another scavenger hunt, and they'll post clues on the Ann Arbor Art Fair Facebook page to where to find his little creatures around town. So, that's such a local thing, too. So, that's really cool.

Lisa Barry: I'm not familiar with David...I'm kidding. We talk about him a lot because I'm a big, big fan. So I'm glad to hear that he's going to be a part of this as well. It's the 2021 Ann Arbor Art Fair. Sandra Andrade is the executive director of the Ann Arbor Main Street Area Association. Maybe I'll see you outside sometime this weekend.

Sandra Andrade: Yeah. Yeah, I'll see you.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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