As the weather catapulted from mildly irritating to catastrophically hot, the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair rolled into town, bringing with it a motley crew of individuals. The only warning the sleepy and sweaty city had was the array of tents that sprung up where busy intersections had been just moments before.

Wednesday morning, while locals were busy re-routing their commutes to work and cursing the unavoidable road blocks, flocks of people gathered on the now-tented streets. With determination and a fierce eagerness, people began to walk the streets in search of good sales, fun knickknacks or simply because it had become a tradition.

“We’ve been coming to the Art Fair for years,” said Kelly Farrell, mother of four and resident of South Bend, Ind. “I never know what I’m looking for until I find it. I think that’s the beauty of the fair. There’s really something for everyone.”

The Art Fair boasts more than 1,100 artists and hundreds of thousands of visitors walk the streets of Ann Arbor, peeking into booths and shying away from direct sunlight. As Farrell noted, it’s the versatility of the Art Fair’s products that peaks the interest of many.

“It’s like Christmas in July!” said Monica Farrell, one of the children with Kelly.

“I’m here with four kids. And my sister, she has three,” Farrell said. “That’s a lot of work, and in this sun … it’s difficult, but we don’t miss it. I told the kids, ‘you’ll just have to get all your whining out of the way. We’ve got a long day ahead of us.’ “

Farrell was not the only one confronting the heat. Many guests, feeling the weight of the humidity, ushered into local food joints and air-conditioned stores in search of solace from the sun.

“The amount of people is awesome.” said Anya Parampil, Ann Arbor resident and Orchid Lane employee hired for the Art Fair rush. “It’s really energetic and lively everywhere. Even though it’s really hot outside, people still feel like they can come in to local stores and shop there. It’s nice.”

Businesses benefit greatly from the annual open-air art extravaganza. Hotels, restaurants, parking lots and commercial stores are all intertwined with the four day mega-fair, profiting from the large amounts of people that come through Ann Arbor.

“We get a lot of people coming in, being amazed at everything we have,” Parampil said. “It’s good for business, especially since Ann Arbor is essentially dead in the summer. It’s been really fun getting to know some people from out of Michigan too. It’s like a little cultural experience!”

Whether people were interested in paintings, fine jewelry, specialty corks for wine bottles or signing a petition for a nudist beach, they could find it at the art fair. Crowds meandered happily from booth to booth, appreciating the art, sunshine and the simple pleasure of each other’s company.

Of course, not everyone was left as satisfied as the fair-goers. Locals seemed less than thrilled at the change of pace in town.

“I’m taking a summer class so this interferes with my parking. I have to wake up 30 minutes earlier!” said Jacob Williams, LSA student and enthusiast of all things not art fair. “It’s inconvenient.”

Along with time constraints, Williams felt disappointed with the circumstances. He added sarcastically: “I’m really glad it’s this hot. It makes it so much better.”

Although flecked with mild inconveniences for the locals, the Art Fair has long been one of the greatest anticipations in the summer months, and this year it did not disappoint. Saturday night ended with a mass of happy, sun burnt people examining their purchases and eagerly awaiting next year’s fair.

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