The annual Ann Arbor Summer Festival, which started June 14 and ends July 7 with a different set of events each day from Tuesday through Sunday every week, has made a commitment to become a zero-waste event within the next few years, as advertised on the festival website. This year’s goal is to ensure 75 percent of the event’s waste is either composted or recycled, with three-stream waste receptacles throughout the event and extra volunteers to guarantee they achieve this goal.
Praveena Ramaswami, an employee of Toyota, which has been a sponsor for 11 years, said this initiative has tremendous benefits for the community.
“This year we have challenged the festival to go zero-waste in the next five years,” Ramaswami said. “I love that this festival is not only a place where people of the community can get together of all ages … but they can also learn how they impact their environment.”
Ann Arbor resident Edward Qyu said he was glad to see companies taking part in the festival's zero-waste iniative.
“I think this is super important,” Qyu said. “I think companies need to take more initiative than only individuals at the household level.”
Anjali Balani was also pleased by the festival’s zero-waste initiative.
“I really like it. I was really impressed by it,” Balani said. “Whenever I go to throw away something there is always someone telling me ‘put this here, put that there,’ because it's always really difficult to know if I should compost something or not.”
Brian McClemens, the front-of-house manager for Top of the Park, the mainstage events housed in front of Rackham Graduate School, said performances are a huge part of the festival's attraction.
“I think it's a combination of the amazing number of acts that we bring and the variety of the acts,” McClemens said. “Also, that in our 36th year we are such a tradition, that it has passed on from family to family and generation to generation, so that Top of the Park and the Ann Arbor Summer Festival has become how we celebrate the opening of the summer.”
Ann Arbor resident Ach Adhveryu said he enjoys returning to the festival every year because it attracts his entire family with kid-friendly events.
“This is one of my favorite summer things to do in Ann Arbor,” Adhveryu said. “I come here every year with my family. Kids love it — they run around, hang out, have good food and listen to music.”
To reduce the amount of plastic bottle usage, the festival implemented water stations this year. A Festival Footprint Learning Center had its own booth within the festival to inform attendees of what they can do to reduce their footprint.
Some of the performances are held in the Power Center and Hill Auditorium and require a purchased ticket. Ohio resident Dave Steenrod said having events that are both free and have a cost give attendees a variety of options.
“I am impressed with how well it is set up,” Steenrod said. “Some of it’s free, and some of it’s a ticket, but you've got families that are going to show up because it's not going to cost them an arm or a leg, so it’s user friendly.”
The festival also includes food booths showcasing local Ann Arbor restaurants. Rackham student Anjali Balani said the food is what brought her to the festival.
“I also think the atmosphere is quite nice, but, for me, it is mostly the food,” Balani said.