Local street party

localfirstpartyTaste of Ann Arbor is this weekend. I’ve never been before, but I hear that it’s a good time. I’d like to do something similar in Ypsi, but I don’t find the idea of a “Taste of Ypsi” all that appetizing. As much as I love Ypsi, I don’t want to taste it. Still, I think we should do something food-related in the summer, the way we do the chili cook-off in the winter. We could do it bigger, though, and in the park. Every restaurant could make one or two special items. We could have the Corner Brewery and Frog Island Brewing provide the beer. And, we could get a bunch of local bands to play. (Maybe we could even get Iggy Pop to come back for it.) They’re doing something along those lines in Grand Rapids this June. They’re calling it the Local First Street Party.

As a community we’ve made significant efforts over these past few years to help rally support for our local businesses. We’ve had Shop Local for the Holidays campaigns, and things along those lines, but we’ve never really taken the next step in terms of building a real movement. If they can do it in Grand Rapids, I know we can do it here… better. Maybe it’s time we started planning a real, coordinated campaign, ending in a huge local blowout showcasing the best of what we have to offer.

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18 Comments

  1. Ol' E Cross
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    I’ll eat, drink and dance to that. I vote for a fried chicken tent.

  2. Posted May 29, 2009 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    And we could have an entire island (Frog Island) of hair braiding!

  3. Paw
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    “When you drink a pint of Founders Ale, a baby dies in Ypsi.”

    Part of my new ‘drink local beer’ campaign.

  4. West Cross
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Well there is the Wurst of Ypsilanti fest coming up on the 13th of June. Kind of a step in the right direction.

  5. Karen
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Worst of Ypsilanti makes it sound as though something in the city isn’t good. As that might reflect badly on us, I’m writing a letter to Gary Clark and the Mayor suggesting they organize a righteous force for good to oppose it.

  6. Curt Waugh
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Dammit Karen, I wanted to make that joke. I have rage. Rage-a-tucky.

  7. BrianB
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Grand Rapids is really stretching their stated “Local Bands” radius by booking the Hard Lessons from Detroit. They might as well serve beer and chicken from Ypsi.

  8. dp in exile
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    I think we have a block party every week during the summer on Fridays. I think it’s called the Cross Roads Music Festival. I further note that this is on Washington Street, in the downtown of our fair city.

    Rather than reinvent the wheel with another organizing and logistical challenge, how about add-on these concepts to an existing function where infrastructure, permits, and whatnot are in place. I’m sure the folks at DAY would welcome the enthusiasm, vendors, and volunteer energy to help build on a growing and good event!

  9. LT
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    The downtown merchants have their hearts in the right place. They’re trying to do good stuff and build a thriving business district, but they lack vision. The upcoming fashion show event, despite their best efforts, is going to be a train wreck and we all know it.

  10. dp in exile
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    LT: your comment reinforces that the creative energy utilized by some regulars on this site would go a long way to add upon some of the work that has already been done.

    As I said, I hope there are ways to join forces and build a better community than create another project from scratch that requires requires infrastructure, administration, volunteer effort, promotion, insurance, organizational capacity and all of the other fun stuff that goes into putting on an event.

  11. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Why is the fashion show doomed?

  12. saltlick
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    One of the designers participating in the event is described as “a fashion designer for over 10 years. Her focus is on highlighting the feminine mystique. She wants her clients to feel flirty and pretty, giving them confidence to believe they can be anything they want and command their world.”

  13. Curt Waugh
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m with Dirt: Why do you think this event will be a train wreck? Is it just the idea of a fashion show? Or do you have inside information about their planning? If you’re just hatin’ on fashion shows, well that’s a lovely opinion and all, but it doesn’t really mean squat for the success or failure of the thing.

    And saltlick, I’m not sure if your post is some sort of “quid erat demonstratum” or something else. What is it?

  14. Posted May 29, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Shop Local for the Holidays.
    Party Local for the Summer.

  15. Lisa
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    This event is put on Think Local First’s sister organization in Grand Rapids. It’s a raging success every year, but some of that is because Grand Rapids really didn’t have any good local festivals. In our area (Ann Arbor at least) we have a bunch of them, but it would be great to have one in Ypsilanti. When I was involved in brainstorming about HomeGrown festival, a festival like this what what I really wanted to do (it morphed into more of a Slow/Local Food festival held earlier in the day). I gathered a bunch of information and have a bunch of ideas if I can pass it onto anyone who wants to plan something like this in Ypsilanti…

  16. Posted May 29, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that if a fashion show is going to be a train wreck, it probably will end up being 100 times more entertaining than a regular boring fashion show. Bring on the train wreck!

  17. Posted May 29, 2009 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    David, I like where you’re coming from. I like the idea that everyone could come together and create a perfect event. I don’t know that it’s possible, though. Taking the Shadow Art Fair as an example, I think it’s partially successful due to the fact that the five us us who run it are of one vision, and that we’re selective as to what vendors get in each time. (What we’re looking for is a moving target that changes from year to year.) There’s a huge down side to that, especially as it involves not being able to let friends and other very talented people in sometimes, but we’re able to ensure that everything continues to be interesting. We’ve had offers in the past to make the Shadow bigger, but I don’t think that would work. While it would be cool to let everyone in, it wouldn’t have the same impact. So, I guess what I’m saying, David, is that I like the idea of everyone coming together, but, on a practical level, I don’t know that it’s doable. With a food event, for instance, if it were to be done well, we’d have to set the bar really high, and it might mean leaving a few local restaurants out. (The way I’m envisioning it, there would be a panel of food people who would judge entries of each restaurant and select the items to be sold at the event.) Ultimately, I think it could be a really good thing for the city, but I know some wouldn’t see it that way. At any rate, I like where you’re coming from, and you’re right that we can do a better job of building on what we’ve already got. Having organized a few events, though, I know it’s not always easy to do.

  18. Posted May 29, 2009 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Lisa, I don’t have the time to pursue anything new right now myself, but I’ll keep your offer in mind should I happen across anyone willing to take on such a project.

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