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Posted on Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

Sweaty Ann Arbor Art Fair setup tradition continues

By Amy Biolchini


Artist Allan Teger, of Florida, wipes his brow Tuesday, July 17, 2013 as he takes a moment off his feet while assembling his tent along E. Liberty St. during set up for the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

Melanie Maxwell |

Related: Heat advisory: Health department offers cooling centers in Ann Arbor area

The annual, sweaty tradition of Ann Arbor Art Fair setup began Tuesday as downtown streets transformed into a sea of white tents thanks to the muscle and perspiration of several hundred artists.

Most exhibitors are in agreement: The art fair always seems to be the hottest week of the entire summer.

They're not wrong — University of Michigan weather observer Dennis Kahlbaum said the Ann Arbor Art Fair usually occurs during the warmest period of the year.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory from noon Tuesday to midnight Wednesday due to 90-degree temperatures and heat indexes that stretched into the 100s.

“It's hot, hot and hot,” said Ken Arnold Tuesday as he was hanging his framed marquetry pieces Tuesday afternoon on State Street.


Weather data for previous Ann Arbor Art Fair dates compiled by Dennis Kahlbaum.

A wood artist from Columbus, Arnold is a 30-year Ann Arbor Art Fair veteran and said he knows to expect the warm weather.

Though a light cloud cover provided a minor respite from the sun Tuesday, Arnold said he was relying on a slight breeze that sneaks between buildings on the the adjacent U-M campus and plenty of hydration to keep himself cool.

Nancy Ware of Bay City found a few degrees of temperature relief by placing her tent underneath the overhang at Tower Plaza on the corner of East William and Maynard streets.

By Tuesday afternoon, Ware had set up her fused glass jewelry and mosaic glass windows on display boards in her stall.

It’s always an adventure with the weather in Ann Arbor, Ware said. Last year her spot on State Street nearly flooded during a rainstorm, Ware said.

Ware said she travels year-round to outdoor art fairs in Michigan and Florida. Ann Arbor is the hottest fair of them all, Ware said.

Historically, temperatures at the Ann Arbor Art Fair have been higher than average -- and typically heat indexes make it feel about 90 to 100 degrees.


Weather data for previous Ann Arbor Art Fair dates compiled by Dennis Kahlbaum.

Artist Theadora Fine of Ellicott City, Maryland, is a relative newcomer to the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

Ninety-degree weather welcomed Fine to her first Ann Arbor Art Fair last year, and this year was no different. Fine said strong sales of her detailed beaded jewelry brought her back to Ann Arbor.

“I’m back!” Fine said.

Kelly Allen of Jupiter, Fla. has been attending the Ann Arbor Art Fair for the past 18 years.

About noon Tuesday Allen was busy assembling tables for her handmade jewelry display on East Liberty Street just east of Division Street. Allen said she’s come to expect the hot weather when she travels to Ann Arbor for the four-day event.

“This weekend is always the hottest in Ann Arbor,” Allen said. “Why don’t they change it?”

With temperatures expected to top into the 90s this year, Allen said the Ann Arbor weather is more sweltering than where she lives on the eastern coast of Florida.

Allen said she swears by a cool wet towel on the back of her neck, electrolyte-laden drinks and electric fans.

“I don’t keep coming back for the weather,” Allen said, explaining she has a great base of repeat customers that she sees each year in Ann Arbor. “It’s a great show.”

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

I feel like they could move it but then we'd have 90? weekend in may. Any research on the number of severe storm warnings also during art fair?


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 11:36 p.m.

They should move it, but push it back to August.


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

It does seem weird that they've never moved it. I'm not alone in thinking there's some kind of unpleasant sweltering combination of heat and humidity. Plus, it seems like there's usually a big storm during the fair as well. Maybe it IS perception, but several out of town visitors and intown friends we know say the same thing every year; it's going to be insanely hot and/or humid, and at least one day it's going to rain buckets or blow hard or both. Have the organizers given any reason for not moving it? Maybe they have my kind of luck, and know if they move it, the very first year it happens it'll be horrible on the new day and perfect on the old day. BTW, rode my bike through the fair streets, first time I did it during setup; it was AWESOME being able to check out a good amount of the art on while on a bike w/ no fairgoers. It's an amazing feeling when you remember how hard it is to go any more than a snail's pace even WALKING once it all gets started.


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 9:20 p.m.

Although we don't have numbers to compare to other weeks in the summer, the data don't actually suggest terrible heat; out of 40 Art Fair days since 2003, there have only been 8 with temperatures over 90 degrees, with 12 having heat indices over 90 (three of those over 100). There were actually more days below 80 (10 of them), with two more right at 80 and several around 81-82, almost all of which had a heat index the same as temperature, which indicates reasonable humidity. In other words, while May or early June would be cooler (but with local schools still in session and vacation season not in full swing), the data appear to indicate that the heat is as much perception as it is reality - unless you can't stand anything over 80. Yes, small sample size, but perhaps representative of past decades.


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

They don't print enough money to make me go to Art Fair. The crowds and parking is Hell enough, but what genius thought up the idea of having it during the hottest time of the year?

Amy Biolchini

Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

Will the heat keep you away from the art fair this year? I'm thinking as long as I have an IV drip of lemonade I'll be good.


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

Such a huge bummer for everyone involved. I guess changing the date next year is impossible? Seems like May might be a good time - students mostly gone and weather better. I have to think that the heat keeps people away.


Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

Ageed. They really should look into moving the Art Fair to an earlier date before the Dog Days of Summer hit with a vengeance.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jul 16, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

Can't you just smell the Patchouli?