DIY Street Fair started seven years ago when Chris Johnston had a newborn, along with the brewery, bar, and music venue trifecta he owns along Woodward in Ferndale. Though his wife was none too pleased when she realized what he was up to, the fair has been a success since its inception.
This year, however, the seventh installment of DIY almost didn't happen. Road construction caused Johnston to cancel the event, leaving many folks disappointed and lacking a requisite end-of-the-season festival. But when it was announced that construction was being postponed, he and his cohorts jumped right into planning.
We caught up with Johnston last week, and he didn't seem too harried or stressed about the impending fair. In fact, he says they've had their largest number of vendor applications ever, despite the short lead-time. He says they'll have a lot of return vendors as well.
"My wife brought this up," says Johnston when we asked about planning the fair on such short notice. "When we plan on doing it all summer, the phone calls come continuously and the emails come throughout the entire summer. Now they're just all stacked up starting now. It gives us more to do now, but there wasn't that constant reminder in our heads through the entire summer, like 'OK, we have to work on that event.' So it's been a freer mind this summer than usual, which I've enjoyed."
Johnston says they've faced a few small challenges, such as issues with sponsorships, but overall the event is coming together very well.
"There haven't been many challenges, just because people have been so excited that it's going to happen that everyone is just going out of their way to help put things together at the last minute," he says. "People are anxious to help and make it go down smoothly."
The footprint will be smaller this year, but only slightly. In fact, it will be only 15 percent smaller than last year's fair. An extra stage won't be used this year, but other than that, the festival will remain intact.
A few new amenities will be added this year, including more common areas. Johnston, who also has a hand in planning Pig & Whiskey, says they're adapting some of the BBQ event's ideas.
"At Pig & Whiskey, we did a beer garden in the library courtyard that people really loved, so were going to do that for DIY," he says. "I think one element of Pig & Whiskey that we're putting in place at DIY is more common areas for people to hang out in, whether it's a beer tent or a beer garden. I think that gives people a place to go sit and then continue to circulate around the event. If it's just all tents, people just tend to make a lap and they feel like there's really no place to hang out."
Incorporating more common areas will enhance one of the more important facets of DIY, Johnston says.
"One aspect of DIY that I love is that it's the end of the summer, and people want one more last time to go out and hang out and have special experience like this," he says. "To see people outside, bring their dogs, and enjoy the stars, the night, everything from start to finish. I just love the community aspect of it, and we're hoping to increase that and just have more places for people to hang out and be with each other." — mt
DIY Street Fair takes place on Woodward Avenue at Troy Street on Sept. 12-14. Check diystreetfair.com for more info.