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Ann Arbor Art Fairs: Day Two

Big freaking bear!Day two wearing my reporter's hat and hoofing it around downtown getting the scoop about this and that. Along the way, I took plenty more pictures of the Art Fair madness. Today's crowd definitely seems larger than yesterday's, and it's probably not going far out on a limb to predict tomorrow's crowd will be larger than today's and Saturday's probably the biggest of all. Funny how that works.

Anyway, enjoy pictures of this big freaking bear and other people and places of Ann Arbor's Mardi Gras in July Art Fairs.

(Oh, and in response to those who have asked, consider any of these pics to be Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. What this means in non-geek speak is feel free to use them however you want, but I'd appreciate a shout-out if you do.)

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Ann Arbor Art Fairs: Day One

Mongo Man in the house!Today was the official start of what I call Ann Arbor's version of Mardi Gras: Art Fair Week!

(No, there's no naked breasts or public urination, but it's still a spectacle.)

I was busy writing most of the day, but I did take some pictures as I ran (or, anyway, walked) errands downtown. Things were pretty busy, but not too crazy, by Art Fair standards. I expect toward the end of the week things will pick up to their usual insane level.

Lucky for me I'm not trying to drive anywhere!

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Ann Arbor: Ignited

Ignite Ann ArborLest visitors to this site think I write only about the local beer scene (which, I think I can say now and not be lying, I'll soon be doing for AnnArbor.com), here's a little shout-out for Tuesday night's Ignite Ann Arbor event, held at the Neutral Zone.

The concept is new to our town, but apparently it was imported into Seattle from Japan or somewhere in the Far East a few years ago and has been spreading steadily across the land ever since.

How it works: Speakers pick a topic – apparently it can be just about anything – and they get five minutes to expound upon it. During those five minutes, they can use 20 slides, each of which advances automatically after 15 seconds. It's a great way to keep speakers – in this case, all 14 of them – focused.

Topics for the first-ever Ignite Ann Arbor event ranged from all the nifty things you can do with a Wii controller to how to make your own near-space balloon that takes and transmits pictures of the earth from the upper atmosphere. Yes, the geekery was palpable, but the five-minute limit kept all of the nerds from getting totally wonky on their chosen subjects.

It's fair to say the event was a success: There were something like 200 people in attendance. The organizers are planning another event in the fall, and, they hope, roughly ever four months thereafter.

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The First German Park of 2009

Drinking beer at German ParkThis past Saturday was the summer's first German Park. Plenty of people in and around Ann Arbor know about this awesome event. Plenty don't. I lived here for a few years before I ever learned about it, and it was from word of mouth, not from the trusty Interwebs.

Now, unlike when I first heard of it, there's a web site telling you where and when it is... but not what it is.

So what is it?

Some say it's the best thing about summer in Ann Arbor. On the last weekend of June, July, and August, the German Park Recreation Club – composed of real Germans! – opens up its grounds to the public, charging $5 a person for the opportunity to drink from buckets of German beer; nibble on landjaeger (dried sausage); mow down on bratwurst, knackwurst, pretzels, spaetzle, and German potato salad; listen to an "oom-pah" band; and otherwise kick back and enjoy a festive picnic atmosphere with family and friends.

The first German Park was held in 1938, and its location well northeast of town was deliberately chosen to avoid anti-German sentiment that was rife during the war years. Those crafty Germans must have cut a deal with the cops or something, too, because I've never seen the expected lineup of police cars lurking just beyond the grounds to bust people leaving an all-day beer picnic. Thank the Lord.

I've been going for the last three or four years, and while I freely admit I may be hallucinating, it almost seemed to me there was a greater variety of German beers this year, from a plain lager to a hefeweizen to a marzen to a dunkel to... wait, was there a pilsner? How many buckets did I have, anyway? OK, I was probably hallucinating. Fans of German beer will recognize names like Spaten, Franziskaner, and Dinkel Acker. Or, if you suck, they also serve Coors Light.

Whatever the case, if you missed out, lucky you! There are still two more chances to go, July 25 and August 29. Come early for a table and bring a blanket and a deck of cards or other game to enhance your experience.

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