Day 5: Taste of Ann Arbor

Taste of Ann Arbor - Photo by Jack Durham

Eating great food under the warm summer sun is one of the best ways to enjoy the season, and that is what The Taste of Ann Arbor aims to offer. This annual community event comes to Main Street on the first Sunday every June, bringing more than 30 of the downtown district’s most highly regarded eateries to the streets for local citizens to sample. The wide variety of restaurants offering samples provide some of the best multicultural cuisine and traditional American favorites you can find. While admission to the fair is free, you must purchase tickets for 50 cents apiece in order to sample dishes. It makes for a great way to sample some of the city’s premier restaurants at an affordable price, before making an reservation. Visitors can stop by booths to sample from a selection of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. This year, the weather could not have made for a more enjoyable day; 80 degrees without a cloud in the sky.  Several thousand locals came to enjoy what the city had to offer. However, the food is just as delicious rain or shine!

Photo by Jack Durham
Photo by Jack Durham

The Taste of Ann Arbor was initially a multicultural food fair. Ann Arbor is known to be a very culturally diverse city, and therefore many of the ethnic restaurants were eager to get involved in order to get their name around. With a great mix of European, Mediterranean, Asian, and Latin American influenced eateries, locals could sample something new every year. It eventually evolved in to what it is today: a slightly more organized attempt to increase business for eateries in the downtown district by giving residents a chance to sample. In the past several years, the annual event has become more than simply food lines. The Main Street Area Organization has added live local entertainment throughout the day, beverages to satisfy thirsty taste testers, and booths from other local business establishments. Relax Station, a downtown massage parlor, has been on site the past couple of years giving massages in a shady tent. There are also many community interest and service groups present. It is a great opportunity to get a feel for what the city is all about.

This type of event is by no means exclusive to Ann Arbor; many cities and smaller towns have similar events run by downtown development organizations or chambers of commerce. It is a great way to promote the local businesses in a hands-on and noncompetitive manner. Every city has its own unique cultural makeup and selection of eateries, so each different place has its own twists to put on its events. Such events are often well publicized, so check around your area! It can be a great way to discover new locally owned and awesome places. ~Jack Durham, Regional Director


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The Awesome Mitten was born when I moved back to Michigan from Nashville, TN in September 2010. Almost immediately, I became frustrated. I couldn’t figure out why there weren’t more Michigan residents singing our states praises! I was so irritated, I wrote a Letter to the Editor. Three weeks later, I had started a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a landing page for the website, determined to do something to make Michigan residents aware of all the cool things going on in their own state. Email me: