Vicki Briganti – WWJ-TV Writer / Producer / Editor
Thinking about the Ann Arbor Art Fair makes me smile. I graduated from U-M and my sister lives down the street from the Big House, so Ann Arbor in general makes me happy. The summer I finished college, I had an internship as an Art Fair Street Manager for the Michigan Guild of Artists and Artisans. I rode my bike from my house on Catherine to the Guild’s converted house/office on Fourth Avenue. My desk was up the old, steep, wooden staircase on the second floor. My fair territory covered Main Street and Liberty. “The Year of The Feet” was the theme in 1993. I was armed with a walkie-talkie and several T-shirts in black, purple, and gray with The Feet artwork on them.
For me, it absolutely was the year of The Feet. I must have walked at least 20 miles each day of the fair. We were blessed with beautiful, dry weather that summer. On the Tuesday the week of the fair, our team measured booth space and chalked the streets. As an Art Fair Street Manager, your role is to solve problems and supervise the volunteers in the information booth. Questions range from the mundane: “Where are the bathrooms?” to the vague: “Where’s the booth with the guy who makes ducks?” to the scary: “Can you help me find my child?”
I also supervised local groups who volunteered to help with traffic and garbage detail. We had a scheduled group fail to show up for their shift. What a garbage debacle! Guess who was tasked with the pleasure of clearing garbage off the streets at 11pm?
We had to be at the Guild offices by 8am; we cleaned and prepped until 11pm. Back at the office on Saturday night after the fair ended, there was a bittersweet party. We were glad it was over and sad it was over. My birthday was the next day so my bosses and coworkers celebrated with me at midnight; we held rolling chair races and bowled on the hardwood floors. Thanks to retired executive director Shary Brown for her guidance and dedication to the arts.
Truly, it was four days of nonstop problem solving. Working the Ann Arbor Art Fair was one of the most intense experiences of my life and the most fun and rewarding. It’s a blast to be part of the fair. I highly recommend volunteering for any one of the four organizations that comprise the fair. You can find out more about the fair and volunteer opportunities at http://artfairs.visitannarbor.org.
Apparently, fairs are my fate. As luck would have it, I’ll be working at the WWJ-TV CBS Detroit/CW50 booth near the Michigan League and Bell Tower. Stop by and try our prize wheel. Kids can spin; adults can win. We’re giving away lip balm, battery powered mini-fans, neck coolies, pencils, hand fans, mouse pads, or jellyfish yo-yos. Our First Forecast Mornings and First Forecast Weather teams will be there signing autographs.
The Ann Arbor Art Fair hours are: 10am-9pm Wednesday, July 20-Friday, July 22 and 10am-6pm Saturday, July 23. Free admission. Shuttles available from Briarwood Mall and Pioneer High School.
I could use the exercise, but I think this year I’ll only have to walk from my Jeep to the booth and back. Any other miles on my Feet are out of sheer love of the fair.
>> More Motor City Musing With Vicki Briganti