In her ninth year organizing Ferndale’s DIY Street Fair, Krista Johnston is still surprised at the emails, calls and handwritten letters of thanks that she receives from artists after each year’s event.
“It is such a satisfying accomplishment when it’s done,” Johnston says.
The festival, which returns to Woodward between East Nine Mile and East Troy on Friday through Sunday, has embraced an artist-centric mindset from the start. Johnston, who is a former musician, and a handful of other artist friends started the festival to support other local artists as the economy started to falter in 2008.
“We just made lemonade out of lemons,” Johnston says. “It was just an effort to boost everyone’s spirits during that real down time of the recession.”
The event has expanded considerably since its scrappy beginning, which offered 40 local artists selling their wares. This year’s festival will feature 140 artists, more than 40 performers and a dozen food trucks.
Multiple vendors say the event is a favorite for them. Whitmore Lake’s Mary Perrin, who designs sci-fi-inspired costume pieces and masks under the moniker Mary’s Monstrosities, will exhibit for her third year this weekend. Perrin’s fascination with costume design goes back to her childhood, when her grandparents would often design elaborate homemade Halloween costumes for her. As she grew, she combined that childhood inspiration with her fondness for sci-fi and post-apocalyptic fiction.
Perrin says the fair presents the somewhat unusual combination of strong sales and a younger crowd.
“The older-guard artists say that younger people don’t buy art. But at the DIY they do,” Perrin says. “A lot of the younger families, because they’re just starting, have some expendable income to buy art, too. A lot of them will start by getting something small and then come back.”
Salem resident Jodi Turpin will be a first-time exhibitor, but this is not her first time attending. Turpin began attending the fair five years ago, two years before she began making children’s clothing and aprons with vintage fabric under the professional name Chirpin’ Turpin.
Although Turpin originally started her business out of boredom after her son started school, she’s since established steady business through the online crafts store Etsy and various art fairs. However, she says she’s “excited and nervous” for DIY, which will be the biggest event she’s yet exhibited at.
“There’re so many people that come to this show,” she says. “I hope I have enough stuff.”
Ferndale resident Siouxsan Miller describes DIY as the “old home show” for her natural bath and beauty products business, Green Daffodil Studios. Miller, whose storefront is also based in Ferndale, has exhibited at the fair since 2010.
Miller’s firm predates DIY, but her attitude exemplifies the ethos behind the fair’s name, its origins and the modest but dedicated attitudes of its many artists. Miller says she started her firm out of frustration with the expensive natural soaps, candles and other products on the market, setting out to make her own quality products at an affordable price.
“I know a lot of people say, ‘I could do this better,’ ” she says. “But that was our goal: to set our mind on doing the best we could.”
Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.
DIY Street Fair
6 p.m.-midnight Fri.; 11 a.m.-midnight Sat.; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun.
Woodward between East Nine Mile and East Troy Street, Ferndale