You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Jul 20, 2010 : 9:45 a.m.

Going to the Ann Arbor Art Fairs with the kids? Here are some child-friendly ideas

By Tammy Mayrend

Crowd overview Art Fairs AW.JPG

There are many great kids activities at the Ann Arbor Art Fairs this week. Bring your children to the art fairs for some great musical entertainment and fantastic artwork as well as the opportunity to create their own masterpiece at the free art activity zones.

File photo

It’s art fair week in Ann Arbor, and if you are like countless parents in the area, you may be asking yourself, “If I attend the Ann Arbor Art Fairs with the kids in tow this year, will we have fun?” Quite possibly you also may be asking, “What will taking the kids to the art fair mean to me?” or “Will there be meltdowns?” or “Will I have fun if the kids are with me?” And most importantly, “What is there to do at the art fair for children or teens?”

As my children are becoming more independent, it is becoming easier for me to take them places. I’m also beginning to understand the power that these types of experiences afford me. Taking my kids to the art fair becomes a teaching experience, a cultural moment and so much more.

So what are the kid-friendly aspects of the Ann Arbor Art Fairs? Here are some ideas to explore,

Logistically speaking, I like to avoid driving in downtown Ann Arbor on days when events are going on, which is especially true during the Art Fairs. The great thing about the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, though, is that with so many people visiting Ann Arbor this week there are many places throughout the city where I can park for free, ride a bus to the event and be delivered steps away from any one of the four art fairs. For parents this gets even better as children 5 and younger get to ride the bus for free, and children and teens in grades K-12 can ride the bus for the discounted rate of 75 cents. For information and directions to park and ride shuttle lots check out the Visit Ann Arbor website or's logistical lowdown.

The Ann Arbor Art Fairs also offer a plethora of musical groups and entertainment throughout all four of the venues. Every type of musical genre is available for the family including an entertainer specifically targeted for children and youth. At 11 a.m. Thursday and Saturday, Robert James, a children’s folk music performer, will share his unique musical styling’s on the lawn at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair (the stage is located off of Washington Street). His music has received rave reviews, and is centered on foundational building blocks of youth, laden with fun, wholesome lyrics, inspiration, imagination and creativity. It would be a great addition to any art fair visit!

Artist demonstrations are another great learning experience for children of all ages; there are many opportunities to learn the tricks and special techniques of selected artists throughout all of the Ann Arbor Art Fairs. From pottery demonstrations to print making, jewelry creation, mixed media, to metalsmithing, your little artist will possibly get the bug to create their own masterpiece when you get home, or they can wander over to the Art Activity Zone.

Kids can explore their creative side with many hands-on activities available at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. The Art Activity Zone (located on Washington Street between Thayer and Fletcher streets) is open from Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is open to all ages and is free to the public. Create a paper mâché turtle or create their own Japanese Uchiwa Fan. Kids can even hand-press their own Ann Arbor Art Fairs souvenir or make custom silk-screened clothing.

There are free art projects and activities specifically designed for the youngest of artists (children ages 12 and younger) at the Kid’s Art Activity Zone. Art can teach children to improve their manual dexterity, focus on small details and even help them accept “happy accidents” or mistakes they make when creating. At the Kid’s Art Activity Zone, children can have fun creating maps, animals or other fun objects while learning to develop their focus through "Pin Punching" or they can learn to make amazing sounds through using wack-a-doodles, tuning forks and other fun instruments. And don't forget to get the ultimate temporary art fair souvenir: getting a fantasy face painting or henna tattoo application.

So if you are looking for things to do in Ann Arbor this week, consider building your child's imagination by learning about art forms or helping them to gain an appreciation of all types of music by spending time at the Ann Arbor Art Fairs.

And, to answer one of the questions asked above: “Yes parents will have fun when they take their children to the art fair - as an art mentor or while shopping through many of the fantastic arts available throughout the Ann Arbor Art Fairs!” 

If you would like more information on what’s available for children and adults at the Art Fairs, be sure to check out the 2010 complete Ann Arbor Art Fairs Official Event Guide.

Tammy Mayrend is a search marketing professional and mother of two who blogs on low-cost local activities, events, and Ann Arbor area freebies for families at This week she can be found wandering the Ann Arbor Art Fairs with her children in tow!



Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 2:47 p.m.

When they're old enough to walk around and appreciate it, it makes perfect sense. I just wish more people would think (as you did) about whether it's age-appropriate for the smaller set.

Tammy Mayrend

Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 11:45 a.m.

Thank you for the comment seldon, it is true strollers are a challenge - traveling with them or maneuvering around them. I never took my babies to the outdoor venues like this because of my feelings about getting around a stroller as a shopper; however taking my now independent children to the Ann Arbor Art Fairs seems very appealing. There are so many great kids activities both creative and cultural!


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 7:40 a.m.

I continually see parents at the Art Fair with small children in strollers in the middle of those huge crowds. The kids don't seem to be enjoying themselves, unless they really like looking at strangers' knees, and I know for sure that the people trying to navigate around those strollers (especially the double-wide monstrosities) aren't.