Dexter Daze festival expands, features updated Mill Creek Park
Dexter Daze has a bigger footprint this year, especially thanks to a new park and a desire to expand.
Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com file photo
As in the past, music, art and activities will still happen at Monument Park, in the center of town, and other locations around town. However, the addition of Mill Creek Park means more acts, more space for booths, and new activities.
A new amphitheater at Mill Creek Park serves as a second venue for music and other performances.
"This year, we also have a portion of Jeffords Street closed. There will be entertainment and booths along the street by the park. If it's successful, maybe next year we'll add on to that," says Dexter Daze's new Chair Tom Paup, a financial adviser and associate partner at Upstream Investment in Dexter.
The vision is to expand it "in small steps," Paup says.An event zone behind the Fire Station at the north side of the new park will have new offerings, as well. A Kid's Zone will feature multiple bounce houses.
On Friday night, an outdoor movie at dusk is new. "ET" will screen around 9 p.m.
A rock climbing wall on Jeffords Street is also new this year.
Paup envisions expanding the festival even more in the future. However, as the festival's new chairperson, he says that it will not change too much. Diehard Dexter Daze fans will still find it familiar in a good way.
"It's still going to be a lot of the same taste and feel of Dexter Daze, but it's enhanced," Paup says.
Returning musical acts at the Monument Park gazebo such as Laith Al-Saadi, RFD Boys, and Bugs Beddow "are festival favorites that draw a lot of people," Paup says.
And the addition of the Mill Creek Park amphitheater is allowing Dexter Daze to feature more acts throughout the afternoon and evening. Jazz group Doug Horn Trio will headline the amphitheater on Friday night, from 7 to 9 p.m. And Paup is really looking forward to seeing the Top Hat Performers do their fire and illusion act. They will headline the amphitheater on Saturday night, from 8 to 9:45 p.m.
This year, more than 100 booths will feature a mixture of artists and business vendors—another big draw to the festival. Dexter Daze commissioned Ann Arbor artist Katherine Larson "to paint a portrait of Dexter," Paup says of one of this year's art highlights.
An annual tradition, the Dexter Daze Parade begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10.
Other traditions such as the "Little Conductors Train" will return. Ride it on Jeffords Street, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days.
And a $10,000 raffle is always popular, according to Paup. This year, proceeds will benefit Dexter Historical Society and Museum's Gordon Hall.
Dexter Public Library, Gordon Hall, Creekside Intermediate School, and other locations around Dexter are also hosting additional events during Dexter Daze.
Visit www.DexterDaze.org for a complete schedule of Dexter Daze events, music and performance line-up, and links to participating artists.
A goal of most downtown festivals is to be an economic driver. And Paup agrees. Traveling between the two parks takes visitors through a charming stretch of Dexter with shops and dining.
On top of connecting the built environment, nature is easily accessible. For example, a new boardwalk passes over scenic wetlands.
"I hope it brings a lot of people through downtown, rather than only around Monument Park. We're definitely trying to encompass more and connect with more of downtown Dexter," Paup says.