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Posted on Sat, Jul 23, 2011 : 5:48 a.m.

Information booth volunteers get all sorts of questions at the Ann Arbor Art Fair

By Ann Dwyer


Aaron Frantz, Main Street operations manager, gives directions to an Art Fair patron while staffing the info booth on Main Street at Liberty.

Melanie Maxwell |

Do you know that one artist who works with metal, and there’s sometimes wood in it, but not always? They’re usually kind of round pieces, that is when they’re not square? Sometimes he puts them on sticks. I don’t know his name. He usually has his booth somewhere on Main Street, but I can’t find him. Do you know where he is?

You probably don’t know that artist, and most likely the people in the information booths around the Ann Arbor Art Fair don’t either. However, they will happily help you try to find that artist.

During a particularly hot week in Ann Arbor, this is no easy feat.

“People are starting to get crabby,” said Jim Woodhams, who has volunteered for the Art Fairs for over 15 years, earlier this week.

Staffing the booth at Main and Liberty streets, he and Lizzy Nagler also receive questions like, “Where’s a good place to eat?”

“Uhhh...I think we’ll have to narrow that one down a bit,” he jokes. He and Nagler try their best to direct people according to their budget and what they’re in the mood for.

While the food court is only a few feet away, he would generally recommend going to a restaurant for the air conditioning. “You want to be cool, don’t you?” Wohams asks.

More on the fair

Additional Ann Arbor Art Fair stories:

Some already knew where they wanted to go. The folks at Afternoon Delight will be happy to know that fair goers were asking about them as often as, if not more than, the famed Zingerman’s.

With teenagers and college students hawking water for $1, some fairgoers—perhaps fearing they would be funding a booze-filled night of debauchery rather than a church mission (or vice versa)—asked, appropriately enough, the volunteers from the Huron Rowing Association where they could find free water.

Linda Zimmer, one of the volunteers, speculated that the stations were not well marked or that maybe there just weren’t enough.

They also received several questions about locating artists. Specifically, the artist with the “hair things,” or the one with the “metal and glass stuff.” Some finicky art collectors were on the lookout for embroidered dog collars, because what is a dog after all but a barking blank wall?

One artist who is easily recognizable because of his hyper-realistic sculptures of people was also the subject of many questions. Unfortunately, he does not have a booth at the art fair this year. His name, though, if you want to look for him next year is Marc Sijan.

While many of us have asked why people would want to venture into the blast furnace we call “outside,” people like Woodhams are happy to hang out for hours in a booth that offers little relief and often no pay.

“I love doing this,” Woodhams says. “I love showing people Ann Arbor."



Sat, Jul 23, 2011 : 6:04 p.m.

No, the water stations were not well marked - hidden would be a better description. Where was the station that for the last few years was on Liberty at Division? We finally found the one on the corner of State and South University - one tap and one fountain and a cool chest that probably had not been serviced since the morning if at all - the water was hardly cool at all. We did finally find the one on Liberty - behind a booth tucked into a corner that one could not see from the street and could barely see from the sidewalk side. Yes people were looking for them. After fill my bottles I saw at least 10 other people filling theirs. The worst part - five of the information people only had a vague idea of where the water stations were and none of them could direct us closer then "some where in the next block" or "i think it is around Borders". This is no slight on their efforts - they are all volunteers and always do the job to the best of their ability - this is on the organizers and the people who are suppose to train them. Even worse - the Red Cross first aid station at Liberty Square ALSO had no idea where the water stations were. By the way - this was not the first day of the fair but Friday. There was plenty of water to be found - if you want to pay $1 for it. I have no problem supporting the local students in their endeavors but no, I am not paying a dollar for a small bottle of water when there is a perfectly good source of water locally available. What happened to the Ann Arbor H2O delivers promotion? Remember the water bottles that were being sold - both plastic and then metal? I have both styles and had them with me to refill. How about reduce, reuse and recycle? Apparently with the flux of chain stores and restaurants and the departure of the local shops that made downtown a more interesting place to visit then the generic highway off ramp strip mall we can expect less of the sort of activism that made Ann Arbor what is was.