Festifools has established its place in Ann Arbor’s Art scene.
Even before the official starting time of the festival, the east side of UMMA was filled with Trucks, student artists, puppets, and fascinatingly dressed volunteers. There was a call for volunteers to gather 1 hour early before the start of the festival, and many had risen to the call. It looked almost like Halloween, but a more jolly version-I saw at least a handful of red queens, Alice, clowns, and people dressed in colorful gowns, sashes, and laces. People should definitely have more change to dress in those cool clothes. What a waste that they were stuck in the drawers throughout the whole year! I was also one of the people who volunteered to help carry the puppets. Student artists and Mark Tucker, the founder of the Festival and the instructor of the Michigan Learning Community(MLC) course at U of M where students create the puppets throughout the semester for this festival, were busy bringing the puppets to life with cable ties, bamboo poles, and iron bars. Student artists explained how they wanted the puppets to move, and some volunteers embraced themselves for the big march with drums in hand. Then the game was on!
The festival took place starting in front of State street in front of Angell Hall until the diag. The crowd was lined up on either side of the street. I was honestly surprised at how many people had shown up – there were triple lines of people on either side of the street from the starting point of the march to the end. Toddlers, children, adolescents, grown-ups, and elders all gathered to have fun, laugh at the jolly movements of puppets, and especially the youngsters had the privileges of occasional high-fives with the puppets. Although the puppets were certainly a grandeur, they were not the only thing to see at the Festival. Student organizations and local communities have come to join the fun! There were people marching while playing percussion(Groove-y!), an actual marching band, people dressed up as clowns that played tricks in the march, a cool belly-dance club dressed in red and black, and other amazing people. The march went on for about an hour. I and the person behind me who were helping the carry different parts of the puppet came to a consensus-it was a workout, but definitely a fun one.
I really enjoyed how the whole community, whether they took the role of the audience, artists from the university, or performers outside the university, came together to have a festive afternoon. The festival was truly a community event in the sense that it could not have been as festive without any of the groups. Also, I really appreciated the atmosphere of the day where a father and daughter can casually wear jocker hats, matching rainbow ties, and banana Hawaiian shirts together and take part in a festival in a local area. It’s not a scene that can be found everywhere, but something that a lot of people can benefit from having in their lives at some point. So thank you, Mark Tucker, for founding this lovely community event!