The three-day festival presented by the Paint Creek Center for the Arts, which opens Friday at Rochester Municipal Park, was listed as the No. 13-ranked festival in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine, based on ratings provided by artists.
"For us it's a big deal, it's huge," said Ellen Hughes, marketing director for the Paint Creek Center for the Arts. "It's something the artists give to us."
The festival, which Hughes says is the second-largest juried art festival in Michigan—The Ann Arbor Art Fairs is the largest and Plymouth's Art in the Park isn't juried—is expected to draw between 125,000-150,000 art aficionados to about 30 acres of Rochester Municipal Park over the weekend.
The national designation, Hughes said, comes primarily from vendors selling art. While there are plenty of fun, non-art activities, Hughes said the focus of the festival has always been on the artists. This year, the festival expects about 285 vendors to set up shop in the spacious, scenic park.
Arts and Apples: See a rundown of this year's events here.
"It's nice," Hughes said. "Just the fact it's a setting in the park is beautiful, You don't feel like you're at a festival where it's at. It's open air, you can walk around and meander and enjoy yourself."
Hughes said about 25 percent of this year's artists are new to the festival, with artists and vendors coming to Rochester from around the country.
"They are really excited to come to the park and be in the festival," Hughes said. "So people can look forward to seeing their old favorites that have been there for years and new people we can't wait to see."
For younger attendees, the event will offer inflatable bounce house-type play areas and rock-climbing walls, three food courts and, of course, plenty of apples and apple pie.
"Everyone incorporates some type of apple into their goodies to stay on theme, which is fun," Hughes said. Apple pies will be provided this year by Yates Cider Mill and Boy Scout Troop 125. The event's seventh annual pie and dessert contest is at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the park.
New this year is the festival's inaugural Healthy Kids Fun Run, which starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in the park (registration is at 7:30 a.m.). Those interested in the run can register online at the festival's website.
Live music will be provided on the event's main stage, as well as the quieter Oakland University Acoustic Stage, which Hughes says is nestled in the trees alongside the Rochester Community House.
"It's an intimate setting and people just enjoy eating and listening to the music to get away from the hustle and bustle of the park," Hughes said.
If you go
- What: Arts and Apples Festival, presented by Paint Creek Center for the Arts.
- When: 4-7:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sunday.
- Where: Rochester Municipal Park (map)
- Cost: Free, but exhibitors will have items for sale. Shuttle cost: $3
- Parking information: Free public parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout Rochester adjacent to the park. Additional parking is available only on Saturday and Sunday at Rochester High School, where a shuttle bus will transport attendees to and from the festival, starting one hour before and ending one hour after closing. Shuttle rides are $3.
- Additional information: View a festival map here; see the weekend's events here.