Carey Gustafson will never forget when she was sitting in the WAB, or Woodward Avenue Brewers, in downtown Ferndale nine years ago, and one of the owners tapped her on the shoulder and said she should join them for a meeting about "a new festival."
Gustafson has been traveling the country with Outrageous Cherry and other bands, and perfecting her stained-glass artwork skills. Like many young creative souls, Gustafson was eager for opportunities to share her work and help other artists too.
The idea was the DIYSF (Do It Yourself Street Fair), a weekend-long celebration of local art, music, craft beer, and community.
"The indie craft movement was bubbling up in metro Detroit, the Midwest, all over the country, and Ferndale had a solid community of artists, makers, and musicians that set up their homes and headquarters here, but a lot of the 'mainstream' programing of local events didn't reflect the energy and character of the scene that came to be," she says.
This is DIY Fest's ninth year, says Krista Johnston, who owns the WAB, the Emory, and the Loving Touch with her husband Chris.
"It's my favorite festival of the year. I was trying to figure out why, so I started asking people what they like about it. The word that stuck with me was 'genuine,'" Johnston says. "Even as the event has grown over the years, the core of it really is that we are here to celebrate the community of creative people of the Ferndale and Detroit area."
The festival kicks off Sept. 16 with a grand entrance that particularly touches Johnston's heart. "We started this tradition of having the Ferndale High School marching band come through the neighborhood, through the festival, and to the stage. It makes me so happy that our kids get to be part of this really community-minded experience. And we get to help show off Ferndale's great music program," she says.
DIY Fest is at East Nine Mile Road and East Troy Street, including the library parking lot, and this year has expanded to add a children's area in a lot across from the library.
"We partner up with a fantastic collection of nonprofit organizations such as Ferndale Public Schools, Friends of Ferndale Public Library, Dog Aide, Bark Nation, Detroit Together Men's Chorus, and more to operate the beverage/concessions locations," Johnston says.
"For the 2016 DIY Street Fair, we are anticipating our partnered nonprofit organizations raising over $15,000 in tips and donations from the community and festivalgoers. Organizations get to help out and be a part of a public festival while getting to raise awareness and accepting tips and donations that go directly to their organization."
As about 75,000 people make their way through DIY, a crew of workers collect all the trash and separate it to save the recyclable materials. "It's a massive operation, and we end up with a full-size dumpster full of plastic cups and other items that we don't want going to the landfill," Johnston says.
The part that people can see most clearly are the rows of tents that house more than 150 local artists, community group booths, and vendors.
Gustafson will be there, along with an assistant who was not there for the early years. Six-year-old Lucy has grown up watching her mother work at events like this.
Gustafson owns Glass Action, and specializes in custom-made stained-glass items like night lights, holiday ornaments, and necklaces.
"I've met so many new local people that have become regular customers, and I'm so excited year after year to design my little home for the weekend," she says.
"I ride my bike back and forth 'to work' after load-in. Being so close to home, as a mom, it's really fun to see my daughter mature from my baby visiting in a stroller, to setting up her own little face-painting station alongside me in my tent, earning a few bucks in donations from 'customers,' aka mom's friends."
Johnston is excited about the mix of booths. "We have an exciting arrangement of beloved DIY favorites like artwork by Jason Gibner, [whose] bright and colorful paintings are inspired by pop culture, and Mitten Made handmade crochet accessories. And there are exciting new additions like Chirpin Turpin one-of-a-kind aprons made from vintage fabric," she says.
Theatre Bizarre will also be on hand, with performances and ticket sales for their signature event. And the Postergeist Tent will feature 10 artists' eclectic posters.
The music lineup is not yet set, but Chris Johnston gave a peek at who's on the list.
"Every year, when we look through all of those interested in performing, we are overwhelmed with talent that teems [in] this area. The music scene here is DIY with an Old English D," he said. "Selecting bands is always a difficult process: a combination of finding those that people know and others they should or soon will. We have a great representation this year, and are super excited to have the Detroit Cobras, Flint Eastwood, Duende and a bunch of great others ready to make the festival fantastic."
Hours are 6 p.m.-midnight on Friday, Sept. 16, 11 a.m.-midnight on Saturday, Sept. 17, and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18. Visit ferndalediy.com for more information.
Crystal A. Proxmire is the editor and publisher of the Ferndale-based Oakland County 115 News. Visit oc115.com.
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