The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Ann Arbor Rocks – Art Fair Week

This week the world converges on our town for the annual Ann Arbor Art Fairs.  That isn’t a typo – it’s actually four separate fairs on the same dates, right next to each other.  Combined, it’s one of the largest in North America – to the tune of 500,000 visitors each year.  What do locals think of it?

It seems every year, I hear a lot of them dreading it.  Stuff like – “We just got rid of the students, now our town is getting invaded by fat tourists with fanny packs and white sneakers.”  “Streets and parking lots are all clogged.”  “It’s impossible to get a table at a restaurant.” “It’s too crowded.”  “Most of the art is too expensive and I wouldn’t want to put THAT on my wall.”

All very true, and that’s why I love it.  When the students are here the town is buzzing with energy and that energy comes back for four days to break the monotony.  Sure there are a lot of fat people, but at least we’re getting tourists!  (And admit it, it feels good when you see someone fatter or uglier than you) As for the art, yes there’s crap like this…

and this…

But there’s also amazing stuff like this…

and this…

And this…


The biggest reason Art Fair Week rocks is that it gives Ann Arbor a chance to shine.  Sure, we’ll always have the University of Michigan as our greatest claim to fame. But honestly, most people only know it as “the Harvard of the Midwest” or “Ohio State’s football doormats”.  On the west coast, it’s referred to as “Who?”  Ann Arbor needs more than the U to distinguish itself from Champaign, Bloomington, Columbus or any other small town with a big university.  And being the home of a national bookstore chain isn’t going to cut it, either.  Oops.

Way back when we were deciding whether to move here, Boom Boom and I visited during Art Fair Week and it sealed the deal.  We wanted somewhere that had culture and was full of life, and this week exemplifies both.

But what about the food and wine scene?  There are a few food courts but, unfortunately, they are mostly filled with the usual traveling carnie food.

Your best bet is to visit the local restaurants who set-up beer gardens on the streets.  Here are my recommendations, many of which will be subjects of  future Ann Arbor Rocks posts:

– Ashley’s – Good bar food and over 100 beers.


– Tomukun – Best casual pan-Asian noodle shop in the city.

– Jolly Pumpkin – Gastropub featuring Belgian-style beers that in tastings beat out actual Belgian beers.

– Mani – Awesome wood-fired pizzas

– Vinology – great menu, long wine list

– Palio (upstairs only) – al fresco Italian



About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

6 comments on “Ann Arbor Rocks – Art Fair Week

  1. Max Doinel
    July 21, 2011

    To me the art fairs are like a car accident: you know you should move on but can’t help staring.

  2. klykken
    July 22, 2011

    I’ve seen a lot of craftsmanship in various quality, but rarely any art at the Art Fair

  3. Anonymous
    July 22, 2011

    I too am sick of the people who gripe about the art fair. Had to respond to this blog, which annoyed me:

    I make it a point to buy something every year. This year, I bought a pendant with a stone that the artist found in a copper mine in the U.P. I love talking to the artists; there’s a story behind everything. (Hey, I’m sure there’s even a story behind the acrylics of the dogs in the martini glasses. We laugh at those paintings every year. And what’s with the all that art-on-a-stick people buy? What do they do with those?)

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      July 23, 2011

      Thanks for stopping by. I read the link and i agree with the one commenter k-dog. The post and most of the comments didn’t sound sincere, but really wannabes who just are saying crap to sound hip or stir emotions. Kinda like lil Limbaughs and Becks. In fact I’m going to post that comment there. Hipster hate mail in 5 4 3 2 1…

  4. Pingback: Traverse City Virgins « The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on July 21, 2011 by in Ann Arbor, Dining and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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