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Posted on Mon, Jul 19, 2010 : 10:38 p.m.

Before the madness, locals enjoyed a pre-Art Fairs revel at Monday night's Townie Street Party

By Roger LeLievre

Credit townies for knowing — and throwing — a good party.

Natives, almost-natives and wannabe natives crowded into Ingalls Mall on the University of Michigan central campus Monday night for the now-annual, pre-Art Fairs Townie Street Party.

Although impossible to determine exactly how many people were there (an estimated 10,000 people were expected), suffice it to say that Ingalls Mall was packed, from Rackham Auditorium on one end to the Natural Sciences Building on the other. The steps of Hill Auditorium proved a popular place for dining and people-watching, while many folks brought blankets and spread them out on the lawn.

The event was presented by the folks at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, one of four fairs that comprise the ginormous entity known as the Ann Arbor Art Fairs.

A kids’ art fair seemed bigger than it was last year (more than 70 young people in all), in keeping with the event’s growing popularity. The kids’ section encourages young artists (ages 6-14) to make art and look toward careers in art.

Jennifer Lynn, who described herself as “a townie, born and raised,” said she loves the Townie Street Party, now in its sixth year.

“I know everybody here. Everybody,” she said, calling greetings to a seemingly endless stream of friends strolling by. “The kids had Top of the Park last month. Now it’s time for the adults to get a party.”

The weather was perfect, with a light overcast keeping the sun off the crowd. Rain was in the forecast but no one seemed worried. And everywhere you looked, there were townies.

There was Tim Seaver, owner of Tio’s restaurant, dishing out Mexican delights. WEMU’s Linda Yohn was on stage introducing the musical acts, such as Ypsilanti’s Danny Kline. Domino’s (“the original pizza townie since 1960,” proclaimed a sign) was among the food vendors, which also included Ahmo’s, Stucchi’s, Damon’s and Ray’s Red Hots. One of the entertainers attempted a Townie Street Party rap, with limited success. Still, it was fun to listen to him try.

“It’s nice to see all the people smiling on a summer night,” observed Ray DeYoung, spread out under a tree for a picnic with his wife Noreen, his son Josh and Josh’s fiancée, Nicole Premo.

“I love the kids’ art fair … this is just such a good community event. It makes the Art Fairs tolerable,” Premo said.

The line was long for the Townie Pub.

“I could go get a six-pack and we could drink it before we got up there,” one waiting customer grumped good-naturedly.

Representatives were on hand from a number of different local organizations, ranging from the Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors Bureau to the Ann Arbor Skatepark, the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the Ann Arbor Art Center, all more than happy to talk about their group’s activities.

Adults were also able to try on silk screening for size, make tile art and participate in a community art project built around the ecology of the Huron River, while kids got their faces painted and learned how to make a Japanese Carp Kite from recycled materials.

Besides being a fun revel for locals, the event also served to raise funds for the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair.

Kevin Keeton — surprise, another townie — was on hand to support the Art Center, where he is an intern. He said the Townie Party is a good way to get locals involved in the Art Fairs. “I feel a lot of the townspeople avoid the Art Fairs,” he observed. “This is a good way to get people to stay around.”

Beatrix Dergis, age 9, was selling her watercolor-esque photographs at the kids’ fair ($20 framed, $16 unframed, tax included) and estimated she had sold 11 prints by 7:30 p.m. “She had a bunch of ideas, she started drawing as soon as she could hold a pencil,” her father, Mike Dergis said. “It was juried, but everybody got in, which is nice,” he added.

Meant as a prelude to the Art Fairs — or maybe as a distraction from the madness about to descend on town over the next few days — the main event wasn’t far from anyone’s minds.

Carol Keeton (yes, Kevin’s mom), a veteran of the Art Fairs, said she takes it in stride.

“It’s a given. Everybody complains about it, but we come down every year to see what’s new,” she admitted.

And although she loves the Art Fairs, Lynn had one wish.

“I think we should give free Art Fairs parking if you were born and raised here and can prove it with a birth certificate,” she suggested.

Hmmm. Sounds good. Are you listening, Art Fairs organizers?

Roger LeLievre is a free-lance writer who covers entertainment for



Tue, Jul 20, 2010 : 10:35 a.m.

Thanks for the photo acknowledgment of my existence. I would have liked to see Ann Arbor musicians featured on stage. We have tons of great local groups that could have played. Next year, townie bands, please. Spooner


Tue, Jul 20, 2010 : 9:32 a.m.

Geez, thanks for summing it up, Doc. However, I've lived in Ann Arbor for nearly 50 years. I went to Mr. Floods to see Commander Cody, saw the windoes of the Ann Arbor Bank on S. Unuversity get busted out during a Viet-Nam Protest, saw Perry Bullard smoke a joint of the steps of the Grad Library and bought the Ann Arbor Sun. I liked the event last night and thought it was just fine. So you would have to conclude your comments are YOUR opinion just as my comments are MY opinion. No need to get inside the heads of the rest of us and draw conclusions on our behalf, though. I expected a hokey event and was plesantly surprised.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Tue, Jul 20, 2010 : 9:22 a.m.

While families look forward to the event and their parents look forward to dancing to local music, this year's event was a disappointment. We need the Cadillac Cowboys and The Kingpins: local bands who know the townies and can play music that is "townie speak." I fear that Top of the Park and the Townie Party were booked by young people whose contemporaries are not the attendies of the events. If you look at the crowd, there were parents with children who could not see the music nor appreciate the out of town, too loud bands, and there were the regular townies who have been around since the 70's hoping for a Mr. Floods type party with Chenille Sisters and local music, particularly something that could be heard while talking to friends in the beer/wine area without shouting. Let's think of families next year and plan the music better.


Tue, Jul 20, 2010 : 8:52 a.m.

People...a sense of humor pulllllease. Do you know what "tongue in cheek" means? @Theo212 was kidding, therefore making his comments quite funny!


Tue, Jul 20, 2010 : 8:30 a.m.

If you are going to have a beer tent run it so you can get a beer within a few minutes. Way to long to wait. Also, the beer seemed warm which for some might be ok, but most probably like it cold. must be one unhappy person


Tue, Jul 20, 2010 : 8:11 a.m.

@ Theo212, the same could be said for football Saturdays and all the drunks roaming downtown after the games. At least TOP is more kid friendly w/o the drunks.

Duane Collicott

Tue, Jul 20, 2010 : 7:49 a.m.

@Theo... if there are things they want us to NOT do on ozone action days, why aren't they called "ozone inaction days?" Due to the low stage and the positioning of the stage and the pub, you could not sit on the grass and see the stage. Either the stage needs to be raised or the pub needs to get out of the way. On the other hand, maybe it was planned that way. The face painting was amazing. We're not talking simple clown of stuff here. It was very artistic. As usual, the food was way overpriced.


Tue, Jul 20, 2010 : 7:44 a.m.

@Theo212. Idea, stay home and grumble, turn on the TV and turn off the social scene.