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Posted on Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 5:13 a.m.

Townie Party offers locals chance to let loose before the Art Fair

By Jenn McKee

Whether the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair inspires you to leave town, hole up at home, strategize ways to circumvent the crowds, or happily join the thronging masses, you’re invited to come out and enjoy the 8th annual Townie Street Party before the Art Fair gets underway.

The party—scheduled (rain or shine) for Monday, July 16, from 5-9:30 p.m., on East Washington between Thayer and Fletcher streets—offers live music, a kids’ art fair, and art activities for all ages. An estimated 5,000-7,500 are expected to experience this year's event.

“Basically, we have the same format that we did last year, though we’re adding a little bit of seating in the pub area,” said Laurie McCann, event coordinator for the Ann Arbor Street Fair.

“Pub area,” you ask? Though the Townie Party doesn’t charge admission, the event acts as a fundraiser for the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair’s educational and community outreach activities by way of a space called The Terrace, which offers a private bar, complimentary refreshments and premium seating for the evening’s entertainment. (To gain access to The Terrace, you donate $50 to become a Townie Friend of the Fair.)

The Townie Party’s entertainment lineup kicks off with alt-honky tonk artist Ryan Racine and Gas for Less (5:30-6:15 p.m.); “country and eastern” band Orpheum Bell (6:30-7:40 p.m.), which combines country, swing, and Eastern European sounds; and blues-bluegrass-funk-zydeco-jazz group Steppin’ In It (8-9:15 p.m.).


Townie Street Party

  • What: Live music (by Steppin’ in It, Orpheum Bell, and Ryan Racine and Gas for Less), a kids’ art fair, and art activities highlight this outdoor, pre-Art Fair annual party for locals.
  • Where: E. Washington St. between Thayer and Fletcher on Ingalls Mall.
  • When: Monday, July 16 from 5-9:30 p.m.
  • How much: Free. For more information, visit (Patrons who would like to have access to a private bar with complimentary refreshments and premium seating may become a Townie Friend of the Fair for $50. For information, visit
Also, one of the party’s most popular attractions, the Kids’ Art Fair, will feature the work of more than 80 young local artists, grades 3-8; Townie Hall and Creative Connections tents will focus on things to do in Washtenaw County; and art-themed activities will be on offer at ArtZone, courtesy of Motawi Tileworks, Leslie Science and Nature Center, the Jewish Community Center, MetroParent, the Humane Society of Huron Valley, Community Day Care, and The Ann.

“We’ve got some new organizations joining us this year, and they’ve come up with some really creative ideas,” said McCann. “ … A group from Motawi Tileworks, Rovin Ceramics, will be doing clay masks for kids on site. We have folks from The Ann magazine doing photography with kids. … And the Leslie Science and Nature Center will offer an owl craft.”

And if all that's not enough, Two Wheel Tango and Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness have donated two bikes that will be given away as prizes in a Townie Party raffle.

Of course, as a local, you know that parking is always a piece of the puzzle—and on the evening of the party, downtown parking structures will be open at their usual rate, including U-M’s Thayer and Fletcher decks; and for one day only, visitors may park on the street at bagged meters. (Start your engines, locals.)

And while “townie” certainly implies that the event is for those who live in the area, McCann nonetheless hopes to extend the reach of the event’s appeal. “We’re hoping to reach out to those who work here, too—those who drive in from other places,” said McCann. “We’re hoping they come in to work that day, and then bring their friends and coworkers out right after work to enjoy the festivities.”

Related articles:
Art Fair overview
Art Fair facts: Hours, parking and more
2012 Ann Arbor Art Fair live entertainment schedules

Jenn McKee is the entertainment digital journalist for Reach her at or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.



Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

If you're not a " Gownie " , you are a " Townie".


Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 4:01 p.m.

Funny my friends and I from elementary , junior high and high school actually call ourselves "cutters", not townies. "Watch your line 13"


Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

Are you "Breaking Away" wannabes? Have any of you tried to learn Italian or bought expensive Italian racing bikes?


Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

Amusing. And the "townies" wonder why Ann Arbor is such a joke to anybody from outside of your bubble.


Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

I went a couple of times by myself after i moved here 9 years ago - found it to be nothing exciting. People pretty much just hung with the folks they came with and weren't real friendly. I'd rather go out to dinner on main street and hang out there.


Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

Here since 53, never gone. Just like the art fair , to many people. I am sure its a great event for the youngsters

Jack Gladney

Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Townie: Someone who goes on and pisses and moans about the inept and myopic local leaders they continually put into public office.


Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

I haven't lived here that long, a mere 8 years. But I must say, I now feel right at home when I get scowled at by the 'ole timers. Maybe my two kids who were born here will be "worthy"...


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

All of you enjoy the cynicism- My family and friends go every year and the kids enjoy the experience. It is best if the people making the negative commentary stay home and play with your cats (and it is your right to express your surpressed anger). We all will be better off.

Homeland Conspiracy

Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 1:41 a.m.

Your kids are the very reason I don't go!


Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

I'm guessing that my cats have lived in Ann Arbor longer than most of the people attending the "townie" party.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

A true townie would appreciate the value of a good cat (especially since Council has been ineffective in keeping mice in their designated shelters away from the nicer neighborhoods and highway medians).

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

because the only two options are go to the townie event or stay home and play with your cat? I don't have a cat but I was thinking of going to the baseball game.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.

I am the true townie! Born and raised, mid 50's yo


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

City council is working on a resolution banning anyone from attending that has not either been born here or lived here for a mInmum of 40 years. Sounds good to me. Keep out the wannabes.


Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

I've been a hardcore townie for over 3 years now. This townie event is what me and my townie friends look forward to every year. Taking back the streets from those non-townies is what I live for!


Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

Thanks for overlooking people like me who have been here 25 years. Still not worthy? This would still be a town of unwashed armpits if us Yuppies in the 80s never arrived.


Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 2:23 a.m.

Michigan man, you didn't and those who have been around did not build ann arbor into what it is Bo Schembechler deserves a lot more credit that you.

Michigan Man

Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 2:34 a.m.

A2 - Right on target. I am Burns Park (61), Tappan (64) and University High School (67). This is a townie party for those of us who have been around, built A2 into what it is today and have street cred. Keep the newbies out! Wish Doug Harvey was around to patrol the perimeter and keep the loser out!


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

So does anybody who has lived here more than five years go to this thing? Just curious ...


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

8yrs in A2, have never gone prior to last evening ... was our 24th anni so we enjoyed it a bit. Really liked the last band. Looked like a good time, esp for kids. I work at the UM and go by there all the time ... always enjoy these activities.


Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 4:38 p.m.

Lived in A2 for 30+ years, and I've been to a few Townie Parties. I'll probably go tonight. It's like a Top of the Park bonus night. If you ignore the banners naming the events, how could you tell the difference?

Greta Barnard

Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 3:46 a.m.

Maybe they should just change the name then?


Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

I've lived here for 11 years and never been. My boyfriend was born and raised in A2 (been here for 30+ years) and he's never been either. The name alone keeps me away.


Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.


Greta Barnard

Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

I was born and raised here, and I'm looking forward to seeing all three of these bands. That's why I'm going!


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 11:29 p.m.

60 plus years and it's great!

Donald Adiska

Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 8:30 p.m.

40+ Years, I go :)

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

I've been in A2 since 1984 and have never been to it.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.



Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

yes. Lived here 30+ yrs.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

And before anyone attacks me for being less than reverent and enthused, just think of my comment as a review. Kind of like a restaurant or movie review. Some people may like the atmosphere, but I give it two thumbs down. I say bring back the sidewalk sales for locals the week before the Art Fair.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 12:16 p.m.

I've been going to the "townie" party since it's inception. It's turned into just another commercialized, over-regulated Art Fair event with little connection to the town and no connection to anything halfway related to "Townie"

Madeleine Borthwick

Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

are you still going? if so, why?

Jon Wax

Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

wrong name. there are Locals. no townies though. not sure who came up with that, but it wasn't someone from A2. probably a noob, musta showed up after the 80s trying to be trendy... Peace