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DIY Street Fair to return with record number of artists

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published September 9, 2015

 Michael Cipi, left, and Holly Hock, both of Ferndale, check out a booth during the DIY Street Fair last year in downtown Ferndale. The event will return to Ferndale Sept. 25-27.

Michael Cipi, left, and Holly Hock, both of Ferndale, check out a booth during the DIY Street Fair last year in downtown Ferndale. The event will return to Ferndale Sept. 25-27.

File photo by Donna Agusti


FERNDALE — With more artists than ever getting the chance to share the spotlight at this year’s DIY Street Fair in downtown Ferndale, event organizers are hoping for record crowds to fill the biggest event to date.

The DIY Street Fair — an event that showcases artists who create and make their products, as well as unique food and craft beers — is entering its eighth year in Ferndale during the three-day weekend Sept. 25-27 along East Nine Mile Road and Troy Street, as well as at the accompanying city parking lots.

“I think it is a real genuine event where people are doing this because they are passionate about their products, whether that is the food truck or the artists or the craft brewers,” event organizer Krista Johnston said. “Everybody has this underlying passion that their product has this quality to it that is unique, and I think people are drawn to the genuine nature of this event.”

The street fair will highlight 170 artists who work in a variety of mediums, from jewelry and ceramics to clothing, handmade furniture and even children’s books.

Johnston said the success of the event is measured by how artists react, and this year they have 70 artists on the waiting list — a record amount.

Last year’s event showcased 120 artists after the event originally was to be canceled due to construction on East Nine Mile Road. However, once construction was postponed and the outcry from the artists and visitors was heard, Johnston and her team were able to put the event together in about a month’s time.

Having the kind of support they did last year from people who wanted the DIY Street Fair to continue, even if it was scaled back, was surprising, Johnston said, but it made organizers realize that the event makes a difference in the artistic community and works in a city like Ferndale.

“Last year when we thought we had to cancel, we had no idea how much the citizens love the event,” she said. “We knew people liked it, but we didn’t realize it was beloved and it made us feel really proud of it. We are very thoughtful in the way we plan and execute (the event) to tread lightly on the city of Ferndale, which is so unique and diverse and an artistic city.

“I really feel art plays such a huge part here and is very important to the citizens of Ferndale.”

Of the 170 artists setting up shop this year, some will be local favorites and others will be brand new to the event, but Johnston said the artists, as a group, are not only representative of this area, but of the whole country. The show includes several artists from out of state.

One of the returning artists will be Jason Gibner, of Milan, who will be bringing back his acrylic painted canvas boards for the fifth year. Gibner said returning to the DIY Street Fair every year is an easy choice because of the environment at the event.

“DIY was one of the first big shows I ever did when I first got started doing shows, and the people that come are so insanely friendly and having a good time, it is like Disneyland in Ferndale for three days,” Gibner, 39, said.

Gibner graduated from an art school in Grand Rapids before going on to do other jobs outside the art community. However, when he and his wife had their daughter, now 6, he became a stay-at-home dad and started painting again to bring in extra money.

Gibner’s paintings range from original pieces to interpretations of pop culture. Gibner said events like the DIY Street Fair are crucial for artists.

“No matter what show I do, big or small, shows are important, but the DIY is free and so family friendly, so there are many different types of people that come to it,” he said. “I can do another show and have people come up to me and say they saw me in Ferndale. People come visit from all over and you just don’t see anything like this in other places.”

The street fair will include several activities for children, including a free craft station put on by the Detroit Institute of Arts, face painting and a Michigan Science Center hands-on station. The beer tents will be returning for adults, along with craft cocktails and wine.

With the event always growing, the DIY Street Fair has maintained a similar footprint in recent years to provide the best experience possible. And while there have been discussions of increasing the number of artists allowed to display their work, Johnston said they are just excited about what is shaping up to be a great event this year.

“It is hard to know whether or not to expand for next year or to keep quality versus quantity,” she said. “But the quality of people we have this year is amazing. We are really excited about what people are going to see.”

The event will take place from 6 p.m. to midnight Sept. 25, from 11 a.m. to midnight Sept. 26 and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 27. For more information, visit