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Festivals Rock Motor City's Holiday Weekend

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, September 4, 2009

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Labor Day weekend usually means last-minute back-to-school shopping, cider mill openings, swim club closings -- and festivals.

Music, food, artwork and, in some cases, animals will be in abundant supply around the Detroit metro area during the next four days as everyone tries to squeeze in a last bit of summer. And you can't do that any better than at the four major annual events taking place throughout the weekend.

Here's a rundown of the festivities:


When: Friday through Monday (Sept. 4-7)

Where: Downtown Pontiac

Cost: $2, though today's admission is free until 6 p.m. Children's paid admission's come with a free carnival ride ticket, while adults receive a free bottle of water.

This Year's Story: Decreased sponsorship revenue is forcing AB&E to charge and put up fences for the first time ever, though it's still donating money to local charities. Kid Rock and his Made in Detroit fashion company stepped up to sponsor the Big 3 Stage, and food and drink prices are being limited to affordable levels.

Don't Miss: Pontiac's Crofoot complex is teaming with AB&E to present Sight & Sound at 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday and at 2 p.m. Monday, featuring 17 hot local bands and DJs. Los Lobos brings a Latin rock flavor to the Michigan Lottery Main Stage at 8 p.m. Friday, while Joan Jett & the Blackhearts bring a "Bad Reputation" to the same venue at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. The Health Plus Art Fair runs throughout the weekend, with jazz and classical music and dance performances on the Courthouse Stage.

Check It Out: www.artsbeatseats.com.


When: Friday through Monday

Where: Campus Martius Park, Woodward Avenue and Hart Plaza, downtown Detroit.

Cost: Free.

This Year's Story: The fest turns 30 with a subtitle theme "Keeping Up with the Joneses" -- a tribute to Pontiac-raised brothers Hank, Thad and Elvin that will also incorporate several other musical families. Festival organizers are upbeat about record-setting fundraising (to the tune of $825,000) and the doubled ranks of its Rhythm Section fan club.

Don't Miss: Too much to effectively list, but we'd definitely steer you to: pianist Hank Jones' festival-opening set at 7 p.m. Friday on the Chase Main Stage; the Gerald Wilson Orchestra's debut of his "Detroit" suite at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in the Carhartt Amphitheatre; the official premiere of festival artist-in-residence John Clayton's concerto grosso "T.H.E. Family, Detroit," with the Clayton Brothers Quintet and the Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra at 8:30 p.m. Monday in the Carhartt Amphitheatre.

Check It Out: www.detroitjazzfest.com


When: Today through Monday

Where: Downtown Hamtramck, Jos Campau between Caniff and Carpenter streets.

Cost: Free

This Year's Story: The 29th annual Labor Day affair comes with no drama or back story this year -- just plenty of pierogi and polkas.

Don't Miss: Jack Scott surfaces to make a rockabilly racket at 9 p.m. Saturday, while Ra Ra Riot rolls in from New York City for a 9 p.m. headline set on Sunday. Big Daddy Lackowski leads the faithful in a Polka Mass at 11 a.m. Sunday. The Polish Day Parade kicks off at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Check It Out: www.hamtramcklaborday.com


When: Continues through Monday

Where: Michigan State Fairgrounds, Eight Mile Road at Woodward Avenue, Detroit

Cost: $10 adults; $5 seniors and children three-12 years old. Children up to three years old are free. Past and present military personnel are free all day Sunday with I.D. On site parking is $7.

This Year's Story: More than rumors say this will likely be the last State Fair, at least at its Detroit location. So you may not have another chance to view the cow made of butter or the Cooper Mini-sized squash.

Don't Miss: What's a State Fair without animal exhibitions and crazy contests. May we suggest: the Pudding Slurp at 3:30 p.m. Saturday; the Mounted Drill Team Exhibitions at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; the Parent/Kid Calling contest at 1:30 p.m. Sunday; the Michigan Scottish Pipes & Drums troupe's three performances on Sunday; the Clydesdale horse workout at 6:30 p.m. Sunday; and the Sack Race at 5:30 p.m. Monday. Billy Squier's return to the stage at 8 p.m. Monday will close the fair on a rocking note.

Check It Out: Call (313) 369-8250 or visit www.michiganstatefair.com.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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