Yeah, you could go out of town for Labor Day weekend. Lots of people do. But what if you're in the middle of nowhere and the liquor store closed hours ago?
Or, you could stick around the Detroit area and use this precious three-day weekend to get sloshed and have something resembling fun. Here's a brief guide to some of the best our city has to offer this holiday weekend.
Arts, Beats and Eats
If the past is any indication, downtown Pontiac will play host to a truly terrifying number of people this weekend, hundreds of thousands making a slow and slightly confused bottleneck down Saginaw Street Friday through Monday.
Of course, Arts, Beats and Eats is that big for a good reason. For the past 10 years, the street fair has consistently given us some of the best grub, music and art you can find in one place at one time in the Detroit area.
Starting from the north end of the fest, the HealthPlus Art Fair will present the work of more than 150 local and international artists this year, representing 15 different types of media.
Continuing down the street is the restaurant row, which features selections from more than 50 restaurants and caterers from across metro Detroit from such homegrown faves as Mario's and Bert's Marketplace to national chains including Cold Stone Creamery and Buca di Beppo.
And, of course, there's the music: More than 200 bands on 10 stages. Keeping with the fiesta's general theme, the key word is "eclectic" (only one must disregard the conspicuous and weird snub to hip-hop and techno). Still, country, R&B, jazz, rock, pop, Chinese zither and most of the subgenres contained therein are featured. Of course, there's a ton of local talent. But where the organizers made some really, let's say "interesting," selections is in their choices of national acts. Keep an ear out for the antediluvian Starship (formerly Jefferson Starship, formerly Jefferson Airplane), and the Gin Blossoms, who continue to limp along playing best-of sets.
Arts, Beats and Eats runs in downtown Pontiac from Friday to Monday. Get the full schedule at artsbeatseats.com.
Hamtramck Labor Day Festival
This venerable street fair should be on everybody's Labor Day weekend to-do list. The four-day festival on Joseph Campau in downtown Hamtramck, now in its 27th year, has everything you could ever want in a carnival at least everything Polish.
The best part of the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival has got to be the food. Polish food, though heavy and not vegetarian-friendly, is amazing, and if you want the best in town, this is the place to be. Be sure to check out the pierogi-eating contest at 6 p.m. Sunday on the fair's South Stage. And, of course, there's the sausage, which can be washed down swimmingly with beers from the Hamtramck Fire Department's tent.
The music: Highlights include Detroit family band the Muldoons at 4:45 p.m. on the North Stage, proto-garage rockers ? and the Mysterians on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. on the South Stage, and quirky cover band Polka Floyd at 3 p.m. Monday on the South Stage. And, don't worry, as always the Polish Muslims will be playing a set. They go on at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on the South Stage.
The Hamtramck Labor Day Festival runs from Friday to Monday on Joseph Campau in downtown Hamtramck. You can't miss it. Check hamtramckfestival.org for the complete schedule.
Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle
After a five-year hiatus, the Grand Prix is back on Belle Isle. As many may have noticed, the island has been prettying up for it, undergoing some $8 million in improvements for the big event, including tree-cutting, trash pickup and renovations of the old casino.
The Grand Prix weekend is actually a combination of race series for two different types of cars: LeMans (really fast, pretty loud) and Indy (super-fast, obnoxiously loud). The events will begin Friday at 8:40 a.m. with a practice runs for both the LeMans and Indy cars. The LeMans cars will run their qualifying beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Saturday will feature the Indy qualifying race from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. and the main event for the LeMans cars, the Detroit Sports Car Challenge, beginning at 3:15 p.m. and ending at 6 p.m.
The main, eardrum-punishing event, the Detroit Indy Grand Prix, will take place on Sunday. The 100-lap race is scheduled from 3:45 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Grand Prix tickets range from $15 to $150. Full schedule and detailed ticket prices can be found at detroitgp.com.Charles Maldonado is a freelance writer for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]