Reinstatement of Ann Arbor Art Fair, July 1 lifting of state restrictions are game changers
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – The Wyandotte Street Art Fair is back on, and will run July 7 to 10, following the reinstatement of the Ann Arbor Art Fair and loosening of state pandemic restrictions.
The Skip Clack fishing derby planned for June 5 remains canceled, largely due to a low level of applications.
At the May 24 City Council meeting, Mayor Robert DeSana said that changes to state pandemic restrictions which were announced May 20 will allow the annual Street Art Fair to continue.
He said Recreation Direction Justin Lanigan communicated in an email that under the earlier restrictions, the state pandemic orders released May 14 for large outdoor gatherings, there would have been controlled points of entry, contact tracing, six feet of distance between groups, the limitation of six people to a group, and it would have required beverages and food to be consumed in designated areas, with no walking around while consuming them. Bands were also being eliminated to avoid people from congregating in a given area.
DeSana said that when he heard that downtown merchants were ordering food for the art fair, he thought the cancelation would prevent them from getting stuck with excess inventory.
“However, a lot has changed in a short period of time,” he said. “It was terrible to even think about the street fair being canceled.”
The state of Michigan indicated May 20 that large outdoor gatherings will have lifted outdoor capacity restrictions by June 1, and by July 1, all pandemic rules will be lifted, including mask requirements.
City Councilman Chris Calvin said that over the weekend, he made some phone calls, and he had a conversation with Maureen O’Reilly, the director of the Ann Arbor Art Fair committee, who confirmed that the Ann Arbor Art Fair was back on. The Wyandotte art fair is the week before the Ann Arbor art fair, so many artists would attend both events.
Special Events Coordinator Heather Thiede-Champlin said they were prepared to go ahead with the art fair, and that by July 1, before the art fair opens, all of the state’s pandemic restrictions should be lifted, including mask requirements.
She said the artists who canceled when Ann Arbor canceled should be back on board for Wyandotte.
“So, if they are now attending that event, we would then capture them at ours,” Thiede-Champlin said. “We are looking at roughly about 50 artists, and the majority of them are only artists that travel the circuit. They come from down South, and then they come up to Michigan.”
She said the application process is online, and artists are able to pay their application fee with a credit card.
“If we could not operate the art fair in the same fashion that it has operated, we could not have it,” Thiede-Champlin said. “There is no way for us to guarantee the 1,000-person limit, and there is no way for us to do the contact tracing.
“The artists depend on this art fair, and I recognize that the merchants do, as well, but the artists come from all over, and we are recognized as the second largest outdoor festival in the state. It is something that we pride ourselves on.
“They become like our family for those four days. But I am pleased that by July 1 we would be open.”
She said she does believe it is possible to utilize the social district, which did not exist in 2019, for the bars and restaurants.
Councilwoman Kelly Stec thanked Thiede-Champlin for making sure that the local non-profit groups will have an opportunity to pursue their fundraising at the art fair, as well.
For more information about the art fair, go to the city’s website, wyandotte.net. For a vendor application, call 734-324-4502, or contact [email protected].