Townie Party offers locals chance to let loose before the Art Fair
The party—scheduled (rain or shine) for Monday, July 16, from 5-9:30 p.m., on East Washington between Thayer and Fletcher streets—offers live music, a kids’ art fair, and art activities for all ages. An estimated 5,000-7,500 are expected to experience this year's event.
“Basically, we have the same format that we did last year, though we’re adding a little bit of seating in the pub area,” said Laurie McCann, event coordinator for the Ann Arbor Street Fair.
“Pub area,” you ask? Though the Townie Party doesn’t charge admission, the event acts as a fundraiser for the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair’s educational and community outreach activities by way of a space called The Terrace, which offers a private bar, complimentary refreshments and premium seating for the evening’s entertainment. (To gain access to The Terrace, you donate $50 to become a Townie Friend of the Fair.)
The Townie Party’s entertainment lineup kicks off with alt-honky tonk artist Ryan Racine and Gas for Less (5:30-6:15 p.m.); “country and eastern” band Orpheum Bell (6:30-7:40 p.m.), which combines country, swing, and Eastern European sounds; and blues-bluegrass-funk-zydeco-jazz group Steppin’ In It (8-9:15 p.m.).Also, one of the party’s most popular attractions, the Kids’ Art Fair, will feature the work of more than 80 young local artists, grades 3-8; Townie Hall and Creative Connections tents will focus on things to do in Washtenaw County; and art-themed activities will be on offer at ArtZone, courtesy of Motawi Tileworks, Leslie Science and Nature Center, the Jewish Community Center, MetroParent, the Humane Society of Huron Valley, Community Day Care, and The Ann.
“We’ve got some new organizations joining us this year, and they’ve come up with some really creative ideas,” said McCann. “ A group from Motawi Tileworks, Rovin Ceramics, will be doing clay masks for kids on site. We have folks from The Ann magazine doing photography with kids. And the Leslie Science and Nature Center will offer an owl craft.”
And if all that's not enough, Two Wheel Tango and Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness have donated two bikes that will be given away as prizes in a Townie Party raffle.
Of course, as a local, you know that parking is always a piece of the puzzle—and on the evening of the party, downtown parking structures will be open at their usual rate, including U-M’s Thayer and Fletcher decks; and for one day only, visitors may park on the street at bagged meters. (Start your engines, locals.)
And while “townie” certainly implies that the event is for those who live in the area, McCann nonetheless hopes to extend the reach of the event’s appeal. “We’re hoping to reach out to those who work here, too—those who drive in from other places,” said McCann. “We’re hoping they come in to work that day, and then bring their friends and coworkers out right after work to enjoy the festivities.”