Monday, June 25, 2012

[HOT LIST] Summer's best fests

DIY Street Fair.

Summer in Michigan can mean only one thing: a whole year's worth of partying, festivals and events crammed into four months. To be fair, there's something happening somewhere around town pretty much every single weekend all year round (even in the post-holiday doldrums of January), but summer is when there are SO many events that to simply sit on a patio soaking in the sun seems passé. (Besides, that's what Mondays are for.) Now that summer is officially here (versus being unofficially here since, like, March), here are some of the summer's best fests.

#1 Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival July 27-28 (Ypsilanti)
It's ... well, it's this. It's 10,000 people sweating and drinking beer. It's 450 beers from over 60 breweries from all over the state. It's a shitshow, but it's the second-most fun shitshow of the year. (The first-most fun is MBG's Fall Beer Fest, which I can walk to and stumble home from. But perhaps I'm biased.) Get your tickets because it WILL sell out.

#2 DIY Street Fair  Sept 14-16 (Ferndale)
Aside from the Brewers Guild's festivals, DIY was one of the first local festivals to serve primarily Michigan craft beers and for that they'll always have a special little place in my heart. After five years the fair is now big enough to span three whole days of solid awesome: two stages with over 50 local bands; 150 (give or take) local vendors selling everything from soy candles to Detroit-centric apparel to vinyl; a 23,000 square foot outdoor beer garden with over a dozen Michigan breweries (and meadery!); a "restaurant row" featuring a handful of local restaurants serving tacos, sliders, vegan eats and ice cream. Basically it's Blowout (when Blowout was still manageable) meets the Rust Belt Market meets a mini-Beer Fest + ABE. Hands-down the best "everything" fest, and hyper-local to boot.

#3 Arts, Beats and Eats Aug 30 - Sept 3 (Royal Oak)
10 stages with over 200 national and local bands. 60+ restaurants. 100s of artists from all over the country in a juried fine art show (which means it isn't a bunch of crappy crafters in a tent, with all due respect to non-crappy crafters). A 5k run. Oh, and 400,000 people. This massive festival that overtakes much of downtown Royal Oak over Labor Day weekend has been the premier summer festival in metro Detroit for over a decade. Now in its 15th year, ABE continues to offer the full experience of food, music and art, and is arguably the highest-caliber festival of its kind in all of Michigan.

#4 Renaissance Festival Aug 18 - Sept 30 (Holly)
Forsooth and shit, RenFest is a hoot. With live entertainment like jousting (the horses are all rescues), comedy shows and Celtic music; food like giant turkey legs, schneeballs and "Barbarian burgers" (just like in the days of yore); craft beer, Guinni and B. Nektar meads; and vendors selling hand-blown glass and MOTHERF*CKING SWORDS, who in their right mind wouldn't love this festival? No one, that's who. No one in their right mind would not love this festival and I don't care that that's a double negative. Yes, it's all outdoors rain or shine and tickets are nonrefundable despite the weather but seriously, the place gets packed and rainy days are usually the best days to go anyway. As you are made primarily of water yourself and not sugar or salt, you will not melt I promise.

#5 Ann Arbor Street Art Fair July 18-21 (Ann Arbor)
The Ann Arbor Art Fair is really four fairs in one. With a slew of national awards under its belt, the original Ann Arbor Street Art Fair (established in 1960) was one of the first art fairs in the country and the fair as a collective whole (Side note: four separate festivals under one name? Really? Seriously though, really? They all need their own name under one giant umbrella name? This is when the parent needs to slap the child's hand and tell them "NO.") is one of the largest art fairs in North America. There's art and music and art and demos and art and activities and art and street performances and art. And it's all over the streets of downtown Ann Arbor, so you can also check out their many fine eating and drinking establishments while you're there. Or just hang out at Jolly Pumpkin.

Bubbling under Detroit Jazz Festival (Detroit), Art in the Park (Plymouth), Dally in the Alley (Detroit), American Polish Festival (Sterling Heights), Pig and Whiskey (Ferndale), Arab and Chaldean Festival (Detroit), Maker Faire (Dearborn), Dexter Daze (Dexter), Michigan Peach Festival (Romeo), People's Arts Festival (Detroit)