After several years of uncertainty faced by all public events during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wyandotte Street Art Fair will return in full force July 13-16 with at least one significant change related to entertainment and alcoholic beverages .
Like nearly every annual event that draws large crowds, the art fair was canceled in 2020 and its fate was uncertain last year as the pandemic dragged on longer than most people thought it would.
It was initially announced that the 2021 art fair would be cancelled, but relatively late in the game, event organizers changed course and decided to go ahead with the event.
According to special events coordinator Heather Thiede-Champlin, some artists and attendees have already made plans after being told the fair was canceled, meaning fewer attendees than most years.
But overall, she said things are going well. Thiede-Champlin said attendance is not down, but it is “different.”
“We didn’t have a big entertainment area on the riverfront, instead (we) focused on street performers, so the fair was a lot quieter,” she said. “More focus on art and small business, socializing, feeding and entertaining each other. Artists, food vendors, crafters and businesses said it was the best fair they’d had in years, so it was a special time for us.”
But as it turns out, some of these changes will be permanent.
The beer tent is gone, and so are the party bands that used to play on the river bank.
With the changes coming with the 2021 fair, event organizers used the riverside parking lot for parking, something that was well received, so it remains for this year’s art fair.
With the beer tent no longer there, Thiede-Champlin said beer will not be sold to prevent interference with the local beer company downtown. Instead, seasonal cocktails will be featured.
For those wishing to enjoy adult beverages, they can do so at the Wyandotte Social District, an “open container” district created by the Wyandotte City Council in August 2020.
A social area is a designated area with specific boundaries where patrons 21 years of age and older may purchase and consume beer, wine or spirits in a designated common area outside the walls or interior spaces of the bar or restaurant from which they were purchased.
Pedestrians may purchase alcoholic beverages from adjacent, licensed establishments and shop, sit outside, or stroll while remaining within the boundaries of the common area.
Only bars and restaurants with Social District permits can serve drinks in specially approved Social District glasses. The Wyandotte Community Center will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m
As for musical entertainment, you won’t find it on the riverfront during the art fair, but closer to the artists and vendors.
“We plan to use the grassy area at Elm and First Street for a whimsical acoustic entertainment area that will have a variety of seating options as well as summer cocktails,” Thiede-Champlin said. “This year we will have lots of street performers along Biddle Avenue, as well as entertainment on Sycamore and Elm Street.”
Food will be plentiful, with over 30 food vendors and restaurants to tempt fairgoers’ taste buds with elephant ears, tacos, fresh-squeezed lemonade and more.
Children won’t be left out as the fair brings back its popular children’s activity area. Sponsored by Meijer, the area will be located at Sycamore and Biddle Avenues and the lawn and will feature a variety of arts and crafts and activities for young families.
Last but not least, Find ART in Wyandotte is back, inviting fairgoers to look for ART hidden among the art they view.
Those who find ART and return it to the information booth at the intersection of Maple and Biddle Avenue will receive an official “Find Art in Wyandotte” memento.
This year’s artwork was created by Konrad Lustig, who said that while growing up in Wyandotte and participating in the 2019 Wyandotte Street Art Fair, he wanted to create something classic and iconic for the art fair poster.
“I chose to recreate Art and Dotte inspired by JC Leyendecker’s Saturday Evening Post covers,” said Lustig. “His work straddles the idealized realism of 1950s advertising, most associated with Norman Rockwell, and the earlier simplified forms of the turn of the century, spanning the golden age of American illustration.”
Even for those who aren’t art history enthusiasts, Lustig said he hopes the simple design and colorful characters will evoke the same feeling as those vintage illustrations, with a modern twist.
“I like to emulate the work of famous artists as an exercise while creating my own work,” he said. “I draw from Renaissance and Baroque art, as well as modern realism and surrealism. My style continues to evolve as I find new wells of inspiration.”
The Wyandotte Street Art Fair remains one of Michigan’s largest fine art fairs, attracting fine artists from across the state, region and nation. Over 200,000 visitors are expected to stroll through historic downtown Wyandotte over the four-day period.
The fair will be open daily from 10am to 8pm from Wednesday 13 July to Saturday 16 July.