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Posted on Thu, Jul 23, 2009 : 8:13 a.m.

1st Westgate Summer Festival draws huge crowd

By Julanne Williams

The 1st Westgate Summer Festival was a big hit! Thanks to the tremendous effort of a few really great merchants in the plaza who were willing to donate time, talent and dollars: Sun & Snow, Nicola’s Bookstore, Norton’s Flowers, Kroger’s on Maple Rd., and The Quarter Bistro & Tavern.

Business sponsors helped out tremendously with their very generous financial contributions - West Washtenaw Business Association and Anderson Paint. Other sponsors included Arbor Landing Apartments, A-1 Rental, Bank of Ann Arbor, Chase Bank,University Office Technologiesand Hear USA. The event was organized as a way for local businesses to say "thanks" for the tremendous support our community gives.

The day began with nearly 30 vendor booths offering everything from children’s squeaky shoes, to jewelry to free spinal testing by Dr. Borer Chiropractic and Gateway Chiropractic.

The Balloon Buffoon seemed to be one of the big hits of the day as well as an all time favorite, the Moonwalk, provided by TDS Metrocom. The weather held out and while it was colder temperatures than normal it was a beautiful day overall. Learning Express held marshmallow shooter contests that were quite the hit as well as Rock-a-doodle crafts, made from you guessed it - rocks!

Nicola’s bookstore was quite active as three local authors streamed through to share their books; Barbara Disborough - The Guide to Chocolate in the Grand Traverse Region, Karen Dean, Kittie Kate’s Tea Party and Amanda Adams, A New Beginning.

The Beer and Wine Garden, hosted by The Quarter Bistro & Tavern provided great Cajun cuisine and cocktails while guests enjoyed the sweet sounds from local musical entertainers.

The entertainment tent got rocking at 2 p.m. beginning with 151 Productions, soulful jazz, followed by Delirious Love, a rock band playing hits from 60s, 70s and 80s. Gorgeous George and his all Greek band came on stage at 6 p.m. The evening hit its peak when John E. Lawrence came out, drawing the largest crowd at 8 p.m. as his band played jazz and blues music.

This was a first time event and the merchants all went into it with such a positive attitude - and it certainly paid off three-fold. Families came out and had an absolutely wonderful time. Outside businesses that bought vendor space were delighted saying they had no expectations but were just thrilled that the event was made possible and looked forward to the growth it will have with each successive year.

Ashlen Olive, 15-year-old from Dexter, pictured below right, was the winner of $101 in a 50/50 raffle from the Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary.

Guests were excited to see that an event like this had come to the Westside of Ann Arbor. It is always very heartwarming when you participate in an event like this - especially when you get such a tremendous response from merchants, participating vendors and families that came out to simply enjoy the shopping, food, fun and games.

The Westgate plaza is planning similar events in the future. If you’re interested in staying informed about these and other special offers and promotions within the plaza, sign up to receive email updates at or