File photo by Patricia O’Blenes
slated for July 31-Aug. 2
STERLING HEIGHTS — Sterlingfest Art & Jazz Fair has a stellar reputation to uphold, and city officials vow that this year’s event will not disappoint.
The annual event runs 10 a.m.-11 p.m. July 31-Aug. 2 at Dodge Park and the City Center area, located at Dodge Park Road and Utica Road.
As in the past, Sterlingfest promises nearly 40 hours of entertainment, activities, cultural and artistic opportunities, and more.
“Sterlingfest is a nice, family-oriented party,” said Mayor Richard Notte. “It’s got something for everybody: midway, food court, arts and crafts.”
Community Relations Director Steve Guitar said Sterlingfest typically draws crowds of 120,000-125,000 over the three-day period. A month before the event, the department already was fielding inquiries from callers eager for information about this year’s musical lineups and other offerings.
“They know, come first of July, that Sterlingfest is coming up,” said Guitar.
Creating the biggest buzz this year is the free REO Speedwagon concert, which will cap off the festival’s run at 7 p.m. Aug. 2.
The Midwestern rockers are best known for their 1980s hits “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” “Take it on the Run” and “Keep on Loving You.” Their Sterlingfest appearance comes on the heels of performances in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
“It’s a major arena act that we’ve secured for this event,” said Guitar. “We’re excited about that.”
There will be plenty to keep visitors occupied leading up to the big finale.
Though festivities get under way bright and early July 31, the evening attractions kick off with the ceremonial 5,000-balloon release at 7 p.m., a long-standing Sterlingfest tradition.
Immediately following the launch, retro-’80s party group The Square Pegz will take the stage at Dodge Park’s band shell as part of the free Sterlingfest Chrysler Concert Series.
The night of Aug. 1, following performances by ’70s band Spirit of ’76 and ’90s band The X-Generation, spectators can enjoy a new addition to Sterlingfest: the Meijer Laser Light Show.
Guitar said the display will feature lights set to music, blending the logos of the city and sponsor with a patriotic theme.
The city receives many requests for fireworks, and although that’s something officials would like to do, it’s not possible due to the surrounding wooded and residential areas, he added.
A continuous rotation of musical and performance artists will appear throughout the festival at the Suds ‘n’ Sounds Stage in Dodge Park and the Jazz and Blues Court, near the Upton House.
The AT&T Kidzfest Tent is slated to host youngster-geared fare — including shows by clowns, puppeteers, musicians and magicians — in the late mornings, afternoons and evenings, and a family midway will be available in Dodge Park.
Food will be plentiful, with Buffalo Wild Wings, Ike’s Restaurant, American Polish Century Club, Cold Stone Creamery, Andiamo Italian Bistro, bd’s Mongolian BBQ, Dodge Park Market Pizza, Dodge Park Coney Island, Loon River Café, Abuelo’s Restaurant and Red Hot & Blue among establishments slated to bring tantalizing culinary offerings to Restaurant Row.
About 100 artists and artisans will set up shop outside the Sterling Heights Public Library, Police Department and City Hall over the three-day period, selling items ranging from jewelry and crafts to paintings and pottery, said Cultural Commission Chairwoman Sharon Arend.
“It’s a nice variety of different types of artwork,” she said.
This year, in an effort to infuse the fair with some new options, the Cultural Commission tweaked its jurying process, said Arend.
In the past, artists submitted their entries directly to the commission for consideration; this year, submissions went through a group of individuals — fellow artists and art fair attendees — and then to a Cultural Commission subcommittee before heading to the full commission for selection, she said.
“We were trying to get some new, fresh artwork to the fair,” she said. “People do like to see their favorites, and we like to welcome people back who have been with us many years, but by the same token, we would like to see some fresh artwork.”
The art fair runs 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Guitar described Sterlingfest as “a great family activity” that provides a diverse array of attractions.
“I think it’s a fun, safe environment,” he said. “People really look forward to it. We do believe it’s Michigan’s best summer festival.”
For more information on Sterlingfest, including a complete list of sponsors and events, visit www.sterlingfest.info. Questions on the event can be directed to Community Relations at (586) 446-2489.
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