Family-oriented Shelby art fair will celebrate 30 years

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 31, 2013

 Chris McKee, of Shelby Township, looks at Michigan stones at the 2012 Shelby Township Art Fair.

Chris McKee, of Shelby Township, looks at Michigan stones at the 2012 Shelby Township Art Fair.

File photo by Erin Sanchez

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Shelby Township Art Fair is returning to the Shelby municipal grounds for its 30th straight year the weekend of Aug. 10-11 with a slew of events aimed toward audiences of all ages.

Seventy-one artists will showcase their work and the popular Michigan-made section will return for its second year, with 21 booths featuring products ranging from soaps, to clothing, to sweet treats.

Pam Reinhardt, the Shelby Township Art Fair secretary, said a new highlight is the “Trashy Treasures” contest, showcasing works of art constructed purely from recycled items; the contest is open to everyone and designed to promote “green” living.

Other forms of entertainment will include Big Wave Dave, a sand sculptor doing live sand-sculpting near the schoolhouse, as well as live music and performers from the Detroit Flyhouse Circus School wandering the grounds and putting on shows.

Mike Weiss, a local chainsaw sculptor, will craft wooden pieces on Saturday, which will go up for silent auction on Sunday, Reinhardt said.

The Shelby Historical Committee will also provide tours of the Andrews schoolhouse and Historic Hope Chapel.

For kids, there will be a sidewalk chalk feature, an art workshop hosted by the Detroit Institute of Arts, critter presentations by the nature center and inflatable bouncers.

In an effort to reach all ages, Reinhardt said a Play First mobile gaming unit will be on site — basically, a trailer filled with video games.

Reinhardt said while much of the attendance rates are weather-dependent, the art fair committee is hoping to reach 15,000 over the course of the weekend.

“It’s a casual, fun atmosphere,” she said. “It’s a family-oriented event with a nice variety of art for people to see and, hopefully, purchase some, too.”

Barbara Gasparski has been the chairperson of the fair since it began in 1983, and she has been an artist for close to 40 years, working mostly with watercolor. She has had a booth at the fair every year until this year, due to a broken ankle.

“It’s been a wild ride,” Gasparski said, adding that many thought she was crazy for undertaking the event in a time when art fairs had not yet caught on, although she had ample amounts of help from fellow artists.

“There were 48 or 49 artists represented through a lot of arm-twisting, through my friends in the art world,” she said. “But it was a lot of fun and they all enjoyed it.”

She said the largest the fair has been was 104 artists — the maximum cap.

“I just didn’t like going that large without getting the quality I really wanted,” she said.

The Shelby Township Art Fair is located at 52700 Van Dyke Ave., just south of 24 Mile Road, and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 10 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 11.

Parking and entry are free for all visitors. A free shuttle will also be provided to and from the community center. The first 400 families each day will receive a sponsor “swag” tote bag.

For more information, call (586) 731-0300 or visit and select “Parks and Recreation” under “Departments.”