Eastern Michigan University will cosponsor the 34th annual Ypsilanti Heritage Festival, which attracts nearly 100,000 visitors from southeast Michigan yearly, August 17-19 in Riverside Park, 515 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti.
Ypsilanti Heritage Festival Director Andrew Clock said the festival organizers are proud of the relationship they’ve built and cultivated with the university, through EMU’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications Ted Coutilish and his staff.
“I think what we’ve done this year is a great example of how the Ypsilanti community can partner with the university to create some really unique and fun public events, and further the cause of education in the community,” Clock said.
The festival will celebrate Ypsilanti’s heritage through historic exhibits, tours and parades, and will feature vendors, live music, food and kids’ activities such as a petting zoo, magician, puppet show and a clown specializing in face painting and balloon animals.
Coutilish, who also sits on the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival board of directors, said EMU has long been a proud supporter and sponsor of the festival, because the university supports and values Ypsilanti and its rich history.
“Our expectations are high. We expect those who attend the festival to enjoy themselves, learn about Ypsilanti’s rich heritage and think more highly about Ypsilanti and everything that makes this city a great place to live, work, dine and play,” he said.
Coutilish said the university collaborated with festival organizers on events, programs and activities, and will host the opening reception for this year’s festival Tuesday, Aug. 14 in the atrium of EMU’s Convocation Center, 799 N. Hewitt Road, Ypsilanti, from 7-10 p.m.
The reception will offer hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar and a live string quartet. Tickets for the event are $40 and can be purchased online at www.ypsilantiheritagefestival.com, with all proceeds going to support the Heritage Festival.
The festival will run from noon-8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19.
However, the festival’s big top Riverside Beer Garden, which for the first time will feature local brews from Arbor Brewing Company and Wolverine State Brewing, will be open until midnight on Friday and Saturday and will offer live music from 16 different bands.
Michigan-based artists playing at the festival include 16 More Miles, Laith Al-Saadi, George Bedard, Dave Boutette, Deep Space Six, Hullabaloo, Kinks and the Krew, Lowdown, The Motor City Beat, Noteworthy Soul Band, Ryan Racine and Gas for Less, Six Foot Poles, Third Coast Kings and Y-Town Hoolies.
A tent adjacent to the beer garden will house charity casino gambling, which will include poker and blackjack tables run by professional dealers.
The festival’s parade will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18 at the corner of Ballard Street and Michigan Avenue, and head eastward before winding through downtown Ypsilanti and finishing up near Riverside Park.
Several EMU student athletes from the women’s basketball and soccer teams will walk in the parade, which will feature “A Celebration of Ypsilanti” theme this year.
For civic-minded festival attendees, SOS Community Services, a community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to ending homelessness in Washtenaw County, will host their annual Empty Bowls Booth, which sells handmade ceramic bowls donated by local artists to raise funds for the SOS food pantry.
The organization’s food pantry served 7,390 adults and children last year alone, according to a SOS press release.
Pottery donations were made by The Ann Arbor Potters’ Guild, Michigan Ceramic Arts Association, Oakland Community College’s Ceramic Technology Department, Rovin Ceramics, University of Michigan School of Art and Design and other local potters.
The festival will also feature educational lectures, interactive presentations, panel discussions, musical performances and documentary films Saturday and Sunday during the Chautauqua at the Riverside series, at the Riverside Arts Center, 76 N. Huron Street in Ypsilanti.
EMU’s Historic Preservation Program Director Ted Ligibel will participate in Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber’s “This Place Matters” panel discussion, at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, as part of the series; visit the festival’s website for a complete list of Chautauqua at the Riverside scheduled events.
Chautauqua is an Iroquois word that can mean “two moccasins tied together,” “bag tied at the middle,” “where the fish are taken out” or “jumping fish,” and was also associated with a highly popular adult education movement in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
On Saturday, EMU’s planetarium in the Mark Jefferson Science Complex will debut the movie “Stars” at 7:30 p.m. and again at 9 p.m.; the event is free and open to the public, but space is limited to 40 attendees per show.
EMU professor of astronomy and Observatory Director Norbert Vance, accompanied by members of EMU’s astronomy club, will host the event and answer questions about the movie and the planetarium.
Visitors will learn how the sun works, planets are born and chemical elements are made, as well as discuss black holes, pulsars and other celestial facts.
That same evening visitors can experience a free guided tour of EMU’s Sherzer Observatory at 10 p.m., and view stars through the large apochromatic refractor telescope on the rooftop.
Vance said the observatory has been accused of putting a fake image of Saturn at the end of the tube, but assures everyone it’s the real deal.
“[On] a clear night, sky viewers should be able to see Saturn’s rings, various star clusters, binary stars, dying stars and constellations of the summer sky,” Vance said.
EMU’s Physical Plant Division and the City of Ypsilanti Department of Public Services are also co-sponsoring a Green Tent exhibit, to teach people ways to save money, conserve water and energy, as well as providing information about the Huron River’s water quality and environmental stewardship.
The exhibit will include educational activities for kids and a new Vapor 10 Kayak, life vest and paddle will be given away in a raffle.
For a complete list of festival events and general information visit the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival online at www.ypsilantiheritagefestival.com.
Related material: Ypsilanti Heritage Festival photo gallery
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