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Local News / Entertainment

Friday, 10 June, 2011 9:33 PM

PREVIEW: 28th Annual Ann Arbor Summer Festival kicks off on June 17 and runs through July 10

Photo credit:

Steve Martin will entertain audiences along with his band The Steep Canyon Rangers at the Power Center on June 25, 2011.


by Jason Rzucidlo



ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The 2011 Ann Arbor Summer Festival begins on Friday, June 17 and continues for three weeks until Sunday, July 10. Most of the activities are free and will take place at the Top of the Park stage located at Ingalls Mall on Washington Street near the big clock tower. The Tom Tom Crew, Andrew Bird, The Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave., The Los Lonely Boys, Taylor Mac and The Capitol Steps make up some of the names that will be performing on the main stage. Those acts will take place at the Power Center, Hill Auditorium, Mendelssohn Theatre and are ticketed shows.

"We have a lot going on this year," said Robb Woulfe, the festival's executive director. "Three weeks of indoor and outdoor entertainment, a little bit of something for everybody. We hope for great, sunny weather as always. We have some great concerts indoors this year. We've got Steve Martin, The Moth, k.d. lang, Pink Martini and outside we have a number of special attractions coming. We have a huge attraction from Australia called Strange Fruit that will be on the lawn at Ingalls Mall. There's also a big outdoor event called Architects of Air at Palmer Field right next to the Top of the Park."

All of the activities at the Top of the Park stage are free. However, there is a $3 suggested donation encouraged to help the festival pay for the entertainment and various other production costs. Other events at Ingalls Mall include face painting, a portable climbing wall, a KidZone tent, yoga classes, tai chi and chi kung classes, global parties and acrobatics.

"About 85 percent of our events are free," Woulfe added. "Folks can come out to Top of the Park. There's usually about three bands a night. We show a big outdoor movie on an inflatable screen every night at 10 o'clock. A little bit of something for everybody."

Ticketed events are scheduled for the Power Center, Hill Auditorium, Mendelssohn Theatre. Prices range from $20 to $75 for those shows. The Tom Tom Crew show has a special children's ticket for $10. The Steve Martin show and The Moth show are already sold out. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at (734) 764-2538 or (800) 221-1229 or in person at the Michigan League ticket office at 911 N. University.

"We open on June 18 with Andrew Bird in the Power Center," the executive director explained. "We also have Trombone Shorty the following week, The Moth, Steve Martin. We also have Los Lonely Boys and k.d. lang at Hill Auditorium. We close with Pink Martini at Hill Auditorium as well."

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival is the longest-running festival in Michigan in terms of the number of days. It runs for 24 consecutive days.

"There certainly are some bigger festivals in terms of numbers, but we run for just over three weeks," Woulfe said. "We've got something new every night expect for Mondays. That's our dark night at Top of the Park."

For those who get hungry during their time at the summer festival, not to worry. Nine local restaurants are setting up booths along Washington Street near the Top of the Park stage. It's not your average festival food. These are actual restaurants that are bringing their specialties for all attendees to enjoy. Some of this year's vendors are Frita Batidos, Noodles & Company, Oasis Grill, Ray's Red Hots, The Sugar Shack and Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea.

"We have what's called Culinary Row," he added. "We have a variety of caterers and restaurants here from the greater Ann Arbor area. You can get everything from your favorite ice cream come from Stucchi's to a slice of pizza from Silvio's to cotton candy, all kinds of things."

There are several different activities for the kids to enjoy at the festival. It's not just for the adults. The young and old can both have a great time. A songwriting workshop will take place at the Ann Arbor District Library on June 19 at 1 p.m. A teen music competition called "Rock the Mall" is scheduled for June 21 at 7 p.m. on the Top of the Park stage.

"We have a nightly KidZone tent where there's activities with different community partners," the executive director explained. "We have face painting on opening weekend, a big portable climbing wall on opening weekend as well. We also have a great kids show called Tom Tom Crew, which is coming in from Australia this year to play on the 7th and 8th of July."

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival is working with with the world-famous Ann Arbor Film Festival to screen some short films on the inflatable outdoor stage. New flicks and classic films will follow the shorts on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the run of the festival. Some of this year's films are Despicable Me, The Social Network, Back to the Future, Top Gun, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and How to Train Your Dragon, among many others. Bring a folding chair or a blanket to lay on the grass and enjoy the movies, which start at 10 p.m.

"Every Thursday night before the feature film, we'll partner with the film festival and show about 10 minutes of shorts from the archives of the film festival," Woulfe said. "Then, we show 13 movies throughout the season--everything from action and adventure to cult favorites, some animated featured. All of those features were selected by the community in a Pick-a-Flick promotion we ran earlier this year."

A series of 33 1/3 reading and listening parties are scheduled for three Mondays during the festival at the Arbor Brewing Company beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesdays are called Wind Down Wednesdays at Ingalls Mall with wine tasting from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. for a $10 charge. DJ's will be providing the music on Friday and Saturday night beginning at 11 p.m. at The Grove (at Ingalls Mall).

For more information on Ann Arbor Summer Festival, visit

Related Story: Ann Arbor Summer Festival announces Top of the Park line-up


Photo credit:

k.d. lang will perform at the Hill Auditorium on July 1, 2011.


Photo credit:

Strange Fruit: The Three Belles will entertain festival goers at the Top of the Park on June 30, July 1 and July 2.



The Body Masterpiece Face Painters will return from California on opening weekend this year.



Four of the nine local restaurants participating in Culinary Row in 2010.



The Top of the Park stage is located at Ingalls Mall in front of the Rackham Graduate School Building.





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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer and Privacy Policy.