Summer's end 

Based on Night & Day’s highly scientific empirical testing methods, it seems 2005 was a banner year for summer outdoor festival fun. TasteFest was a resounding success, the Fourth Street Fair provided the hippies, hipsters and politicos all the fun they could shake a stick at, and the first annual Woodbridge Festival looks as though it will become a grand new tradition. But as the summer winds down and school starts, there’s one last festival to be checked out — even if you’re feeling a bit spent — the Hamtramck Festival, now celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Not only is Hamtramck one of the most ethnically diverse cities in southeast Michigan, it’s one of metro Detroit’s last vestiges of old-school community.

Certainly the city has endured its fair share of highly publicized political woes over the last few years, but its teeming streets, ethnic restaurants, mom-and-pop stores, corner bars and popular music venues make Hamtown the perfect place for celebration. Urban folks and suburbanites alike adore the place. And each Labor Day weekend, for three days in a row, the city puts on a hell of a shindig.

One of the most consistently impressive elements of the festival is its high-caliber musical lineup, which always includes a heady cross-section of popular local acts, and there’s at least a little something for everyone. Attendees can expect everything from accordion music to punk.

Highlights from this year’s showcase include Powertrane, with special guest Mitch Ryder; a farewell show for the Darren McCarty-led Grinder; melodic alt-country from the Dead String Brothers; a rare show from the retro-fabulous Fortune & Maltese; the Paybacks; the Volebeats; and Hamtown fave the Polish Muslims.

But there’s much more than tunes. It wouldn’t be an outdoor festival without sidewalk eats. Vendors will serve a variety of yummies including Polish, Middle Eastern and soul food, as well as a Night & Day fave, the appropriately named dessert, European Fat Balls.

There also will be carnival rides, games and a variety of other activities for the kids in this last hurrah for the summer.


Sept. 2-5 in downtown Hamtramck, on Joseph Campau between Caniff and Carpenter;

Eve Doster is the listings editor for Metro Times. Send comments to

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