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Posted on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Are you prepared? Tips for making the most of your Art Fair experience

By Rich Kinsey

The Mega Guide: Full coverage of the 2013 Ann Arbor Art Fair


A vendor prepares her booth for the beginning of the annual 2013 Ann Arbor Art Fair.

Love it or hate it — Art Fair week has arrived. For townies we know the drill and where you will have to park for the latter part of this week. Art Fair rocks your world for a week, but I’m sure it generates a lot of revenue for the city.

Speaking of bringing things to town during Art Fair — do your pet a favor and leave them home. I am the proud owner of two wonderful dogs we rescued from the animal shelter and I love those two animals way too much to ever consider walking them through those packed streets.

Who are these people that think it is a good idea to walk a dog through a swarming crowd of people during what always seems to be the hottest week of the year? Do you really think your four-legged friend wants to gaze upon artistic genius?

This is not like a walk in the park on soft grass. This is a walk on really hot pavement with about a gazillion feet that can step on paws. A dog can't even find a tree or fire hydrant in all the throngs of art-gazers and bargain-hunters. So I beg of you — leave your fur-faced pals at home—unless of course it is a service dog and a necessity to your well-being.

Remember the time of year as well. It is July, the hottest month of the year. It will be steamy — hotter still when so many people are packed into such a relatively small area. Any breeze in the downtown area will be blocked by overburdened booths, legions of art lovers, artists and street performers.


Vendors set up their tent off of East Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor on Tuesday morning, July 16, 2013.

Melanie Maxwell |

I am no doctor, nor have I ever played one on TV, but I also would highly recommend that you drink plenty of fluids before embarking on the arduous search for the perfect piece of art. Hydrate! Not only because it is good for you and absolutely essential in such hot weather, but because bottles of water — your cheapest option — will be about a buck a bottle once you hit the street.

By far the most frequent call for service and medical emergencies during the fair are heat-related emergencies. Find some shade and rest if you are feeling poorly. To put it plainly, sit down before you fall down and really hurt yourself. You should begin preparing for the day before you even leave your house: make sure to hydrate, wear loose-fitting clothes that breathe and liberally apply sunscreen to uncovered areas of your body, to avoid any post-fair redness.

It also would be wise to bring along an umbrella or raincoat in your car. Just as sure as the sky is blue, there will be an Art Fair shower. Whether a sprinkle or a gulley washer, there usually is at least one stormy afternoon or evening during the four-day event. Morning visits seem to be your best bet to avoid summer showers and thundershowers.

When evening arrives and perhaps you consider making the Art Fair a date or destination after work, remember to drink responsibly. That is if you consume alcohol, do so in moderation and in appropriate areas.

Remember — contrary to what many might think on football Saturdays — consuming alcohol in public and possession of uncapped containers of alcohol on the street in Ann Arbor is against city ordinance.

The kindly officer you meet, while carrying your adult beverage down the street, probably will just ask you to dump the booze out and dispose of it properly — unless you are a problem. You are a problem and likely will be cited if you are making a spectacle of yourself, or try — like about a million college kids have throughout the years — to hide your Solo Cup of beer next to the thigh opposite of the officers line of sight, or you drop the cup as if it is not yours. Now not only are you going to be cited for the alcohol, you can add littering to the list as well.

To consume alcohol legally, do so in the designated areas like the beer tents — now more delicately termed “hospitality areas”, bars or restaurants in the area. Remember the hosts of the outside drinking areas can lose their liquor license or be fined if people leave the areas with alcohol. They will therefore have security or personnel watching for this — so do not try to sneak your drink outside.

For Art Fair attendees, remember to lock your cars when you park them and keep any masterpieces or expensive items hidden either in the trunk, under the seat or at least with a visual block for the prying eyes of potential thieves. Even though there will scores of cops and security in the area, there will be a determined group of master criminals that will try to loot parked cars.

For those in the booths conducting business, remember to keep your cash box, purses and valuables where you can watch them. Avoid placing valuables in the back of the tent where a thief can reach in from the back to steal from you without being detected. Vendors if you take out-of-state checks, you do so at your own risk. Local cops are not going to leave the state to investigate a bad check drawn from an out-of-state bank.

When dealing in cash, make sure you check the bills for counterfeits. Make sure the president or statesman on the bill matches the hologram of that same person on the right side of the front of the bill.

For instance, if the Ulysses Grant hologram on your $50 bill looks like an emaciated Grant and is facing toward the portrait, this actually is Abraham Lincoln. A few years ago counterfeiters were chemically washing the ink off $5 bills and printing bogus $50 bills instead. The hologram remained in the paper but it was Abe’s likeness and not Ulysses’.

There are other safety features on U.S. currency which you can find online or you can use a commercially produced counterfeit detecting pen to save your self from getting stuck with bogus bills.

Okay, now that I have cautioned you about some of the worst possible scenarios that could occur at the 2013 annual Art Fair, go out and enjoy the spectacle. It is an impressive event and I urge you to go outside and enjoy the precious summer weather while it is here in the Huron Valley. But remember, have fun and stay safe.

Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors.

Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for



Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 3:12 a.m.

way,way,way to hot.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

If you think it's okay for dogs, watch the dogs that are being led around the art fair - watch them shift from paw to paw or even just lie down and refuse to move. I vote for dog owners having to be barefoot!


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

Another good article, Rich, even though I lost interest in the art(it's not) fair(not that either) some years ago, I agree with everything you said, particularly about our furry friends! It simply blows my mind how many people bring their dogs. Maybe they should walk barefoot on the pavement....might wake 'em up!


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Wow, Philly, that had to be annoying(little yappy dogs get on my last nerve!), but at least their paws weren't being grilled on the pavement!


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

Yesterday I saw a "double decker" dog stroller with 2 little dogs inside, one barking incessantly.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

If you can't beat'em, join'em! I have located and borrowed a five wide baby stroller to bring to art fair. Not bringing any kids, though. There is no room in my stroller for infants. And they don't belong at Art fair anyway. Bay 1: Mini keg of beer #1 Bay 2: Margaritas, premixed Bay 3: Mini keg of beer #2 Bay 4: Beef Brisket and sausage Bay 5: Cigars


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

Oooooh, decadence runs amuck!