2017 Ann Arbor Art Fair Review

Yesterday our new writer Sarah attended Art Fair. Check out her 2017 Ann Arbor Art Fair Review.

The Ann Arbor Art Fair has been around for a long time. And covering it all makes for a long walk, especially for little legs. So here are my tips after a whole morning there (10am-1pm) with three kids under the age of four.

2017 Ann Arbor Art Fair Review - The Guild Fair

2017 Ann Arbor Art Fair Review & Tips

Set a Plan

Some people recommend the children’s area last because your kids won’t want to leave (the adults might not either because it is shady and breezy-take a load off those walking feet). I would absolutely agree.

I actually recommend parking somewhere near the children’s area. Then, before anyone is worn out, take a long hike down to Main Street while everyone has energy. Then you can stroll back at a leisurely pace back to the kids area.  After that it is likely you will be done for the day or ready for a bite to eat. There are a few different options (Gyros and Bucket Fries) right next to the Kids area. If your kids, like mine, still take naps it is as simple as taking a short walk to the car and calling it a day.


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Do NOT expect to see everything. If I had no children and went for the full day, 10am-5pm, I might see everything (at a leisurely pace without stops). There is a lot and it is worth taking your time and enjoying what you can.

Note: There is a shuttle called the Art-Go-Round. It’s there to get you around the fair which is comprised of a 29 blocks all together. The free mini-bus system continuously operates and links all four fairs.

What to Bring

  • Water!!! And lots of $1 bills to get more. There are people selling $1 waters all throughout the fair.
  • A hat for the sun. There is barely any shade along the whole route (unless you hug to the buildings…but then you can’t see anything)
  • A bag for purchases
  • Snacks. There are food areas on the outer ends of the fair and most local places are open too.
  • Stroller or Ergo for when the kids get tired.

Ann Arbor Art Fair Scavenger Hunt

Can you find our favorites? (disclaimer: we did not stop everywhere but these were our top picks)

On Main Street

  • A cool new Tesla electric car that the kids can climb in.
  • The Kittelson’s shop with gorgeous kaleidoscopes. Each piece is a unique piece of art. Shaped like telescopes they were getting a lot of attention from older kids.
  • There were three different wood craft stops that stood out for the kids. Each unique. Any piece from these shops would be a great addition to any Montessori style setup.
    • One had classic unpainted wood pieces like crayon holders, trains, and piggy banks (296). This artisan could add your child’s name to any piece on the spot. <editors note – We bought my 11 year old a pull seal from him while I was pregnant and returned the following year to have her name added>
      Ann Arbor Art Fair - Wooden Toys
    • Another had modern art style puzzles and toys in vibrant tropical colors. So many unique interactive toys, puzzles, and name pieces.
      2017 Ann Arbor Art Fair Review - Abstract Puzzles
    • At George Efta’s booth, with name puzzles and multi-layered puzzles in classic primary colors, I met a woman who had been back over the course of 26 years. She first got her son a name puzzle when he was only a toddler. He now has his own children. She was back to purchase a name puzzle for her newest grandchild. She mentioned that the artist will take orders for unique names and custom make them (if ordered during the fair customer receives free shipping).
  • There is a cute shop by Diane Hawkey where you can make your own necklace with encouraging words.
    2017 Ann Arbor Art Fair Review - Make a Necklace
  • Classy dinosaur mugs by Keith Hershberger.
  • Handpainted bright silk pillows painted with animals and plants.
  • A man carving Santa Claus out of wood.
  • Vegetabowls: stacking bowl sets that look like cabbages, cantaloupe, and watermelons.

On Campus

  • Our very own Arbor Annie’s siblings at a booth by Loren Maron Ceramics.
    2017 Ann Arbor Art Fair Review - Owl Plate
  • Of all the art I saw (and there was a lot of ground we didn’t cover) the one that I wanted most for myself was a piece from Amy Arnold and Kelsey Sauber Olds (A368). They make little wooden sculpted people, painted in lighthearted hues, and full of character.
    2017 Ann Arbor Art Fair Review - Wooden Sculpted People
  • A metal cactus garden that is hard to keep the kids off of.
  • Masks made of feathers by Gwen Bennett. Beautiful and fun for a kid, like mine, who is into birds and can identify the feathers from recognizable birds.
  • Matthew Hemminghaus, a photographer whose stars are chickens!
  • Nicario Jimenez makes boxes full of tiny, tiny figurines locked in stories. Draws in the eyes (and the fingers)!
  • Funny Gearz: A battery operated LEGO-style toy booth. Make endless combinations.

Top Resting Spots at Ann Arbor Art Fair

On Main there are lots of raised planters on the sidewalk behind the tents. These are mostly in the shade.

Off N. University there is a large area with soft grass and trees. Take a load off with a glass of lemonade.

On N. University when you enter the Ingalls Mall, Mity Nice Italian Ice stand is there with misting fans. Just stand there for a few minutes and you’ll get a second wind.

2017 Ann Arbor Art Fair Review - Italian Ice

Art Activity Zone

The Art Activity Zone offers activities for kids of all ages. I brought along a 2 year old and a 4 year old. I saw kids in their teens hanging out (and not just the volunteers).

Clay station: Mold clay into fun shapes and containers. It is not self-drying clay but kiln clay so even after it dries it may be brittle depending on what is made. Bring a plastic bag for carrying it home since it may still be wet.

LEGO Station: There are cards with different ‘puzzles’ to create from. Very entertaining. Very meticulous.

Dinosaur station: A few fossil replicas. Make a paper dinosaur ‘puppet’.

Abstract art station: Get a model piece of wood, check out the examples, and get to it. Stickers, markers, and tape are all provided.

2017 Ann Arbor Art Fair Review - Abstract Art

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Sarah

Sarah

Sarah is an Ann Arbor mom of three boys. Together they love going to parks, fairs, local events, and playgrounds. They also love exploring areas within daily drives of Ann Arbor. She is a contributing author for Ann Arbor With Kids.

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