Summer in Michigan means a lot of things: days on the lake, carnivals every other weekend, backyard BBQs, and if you’re lucky enough to be in Ypsilanti in August, the DIYpsi Summer Festival.
The annual event is held under canopy of flowing white tent in the north lot of an Ypsi community cornerstone – Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery. This year’s festival will feature more than 80 local vendors peddling their classy wares, featuring everything from fabulous purses and necklaces to intricate paper soldiers. It’s the craft fair lover’s dream.
But like most local events, doing it like a pro will leave you with less anxiety in prep mode… and upon arrival… and as you’re wandering the multiple spaces set for the dozens of vendors. Fear not, freelancer Cole Bednarski, former events and marketing manager of ABCM (i.e. former venue co-organizer of DIYpsi – along with the rest of their kickass team) is here to make sure you show up to DIYpsi prepared.
Let’s get started:
Making an entrance
It can be physically and emotionally painful to know DIYpsi is happening and you’re not there. But take it from an expert that has seen the lines curl around that historic brick every year 30 minutes before open: Don’t do it. Hold out. Vendors are prepped for two days of sales and are not going to run out of that print you were eyeing on yesterday’s vendor preview.
Show up at 5 for better parking, little to no line entering the building, and fewer bodies to muscle through to grab that print. Also, keep in mind that because of ABCM’s service style, guests under 21 must be accompanied by a parent. Not just an adult, their parent. If you’re 18-20, you will be permitted without a legal guardian from noon-6 pm Sunday only. These are the rules. Don’t be a jerk and make somebody turn you away.
At the door
There is a $1 suggested donation at the door. They don’t call it a cover because it’s not required. If you’re a decent human being, you’ll throw in $2 because it costs money to run this incredible spectacle. And in a world where funding to the arts is one snipped hair away from being deported to the underworld, it’s our job as a community to keep events like this alive.
If you’re smart, you’ll keep your I.D. out after checking in, and step right in line for a brew. While the microbrewery, unfortunately, wasn’t able to put together any specialties for 2017, according to Marketing Director Dave Cicotte, all summer favorites will be on tap, including Bollywood Blonde, Euchre Pils, Buzzsaw American IPA and, duh, Strawberry Blonde.
Vendor tables sprawl through the lounge space (immediately to the right of the entrance), into the main bar area, and throughout the north lot – connected by the beer garden. Start in the lounge, hit the main bar area, grab another beer, then head outside for round two.
Taking a gander inside first geographically makes sense because, well, you’re already there, and trust a pro, once you’re outside in the maze of tents, ice cream, and live music, you won’t make it back to the lounge and you’ll be sad you missed out on the lounge vendors. Also, there are fewer vendors inside and the sweep will only take about 45 minutes. By the time you’re outdoors, the temps will have started to cool and you’ll have two hours to peruse before tents close at 8 pm.
All the foods
As a former employee of ABCM – one who gained 15 pounds working there – this expert knows the ABCM event food intimately. With new Chef Joe Williams, the kitchen has done it again with a lineup of carnival-style food with a fancy twist worth risking the weight gain for elephant ears with chocolate dipping sauce, curry mushroom fries, Moroccan lamb and fig brat, or the classic chicken on a stick. And that’s not even the entire menu.
You’re doing some serious shopping. Treat yo’ self to a corn dog.
Music, music, music
A unique component of the DIYpsi Summer Festival is its live music lineup, organized by Ypsilanti’s Music & Arts Guild, giving a stage to some incredibly talented local musicians and a day-long show for patrons of the event.
The 2017 lineup includes local celebs Qween Louie, Doogatron, Jim Cherewick, and too many more names to list. Check out the full lineup on the DIYpsi website.
Looking for another something new to this year’s festival? Stick around for the late-night DJ spinning in the beer garden from 8-11 pm and revel in your glorious purchases.
More experts expert-ing
The organizers of DIYpsi are the ultimate know-alls for navigating the festival, so it’s safe to say that what they are excited about, you should be making a point to check out. Here’s what’s on their 2017 DIYpsi bucket list:
Rachel Parke: “I’m most excited about the great new vendors joining us this summer as well as our fantastic patron vendors! Also, I’m a HUGE fan of Theatre Bizarre. Super excited that they’ll be joining us again!”
Marcy Davy Haywood: “I’m excited for Odd Hours to headline Saturday night… and to eat an elephant ear.”
Sherri Schultz: “Like every year, I am most excited to meet our brand new vendors and see their work. There have been several times where an artist does DIYpsi for the first time, and they are so professional and prepared, you’d think they’d been doing craft fairs forever, just to find out this is their first show ever!”
Cre Fuller: “The music lineup. Alexis Ford with the Music & Arts Guild has done an amazing job pulling in the best talent. ExAmerican and Odd Hours are what I’m looking forward to most.”
Exiting the stage
Time to head home and play with your new treasures. Be smart, be an adult, and get an Uber if you’ve been partaking of those Strawberry Blonde pints.
Now that you’re home safely, what’s next? Well, rest your fears because you don’t have to wait until 2018 for the magic of DIYpsi. The Holiday Market is on the calendar for December 9-10 at The Riverside Arts Center! Make sure to follow the page for updates as the date gets closer and get a taste of the holiday thrills vendors will be bringing.
DIYpsi Summer Festival
August 5, 11 am-11 pm (vendors open until 8 pm) and August 6, noon-6 pm
720 Norris Street, Ypsilanti, 48198