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Hundreds of vendors crowd streets at art festivals in East Lansing

May 19, 2024
Various artists and vendors gather for the 61st year of the East Lansing Art Festival at Michigan State University on May 18, 2024.
Various artists and vendors gather for the 61st year of the East Lansing Art Festival at Michigan State University on May 18, 2024.

The East Lansing Art Festival and the MSU Arts and Crafts Show took over north campus and the downtown streets Saturday and Sunday, replacing the typical weekend traffic with the tents of over 200 combined art vendors

Renee Dwyer, who ran the merchandise booth for the East Lansing fair, said that the festival brings in revenue to the area at a time of year when most of its patrons are away for summer break

“It’s a really great thing for our community to have when the students are gone because it helps bring people to our downtown businesses,” Dwyer said. “They need our support when the students aren’t here.” 

The East Lansing festival showcases the art of vendors whose work is classified as fine art, while the MSU show features crafts, Dwyer said

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Artist Lauren Cummings of Lauren Charesse Studios is a relief print maker. She said her art entails using linoleum and woodblock on paper to create her prints. This marked her second year selling her prints at the festival and the “good conversation with attendees” drove her to return to East Lansing for this year’s festival

“I’ve had a lot of people say that they don’t make anything, or they feel like they kind of make something, but I get inspiration from the people visiting the tent and the other makers here,” Cummings said. “I hope people also feel inspired coming here.” 

Student Made, an MSU organization for student-run businesses, had a tent with their various sellers, marketing junior and Events and Partnership Manager Yuktha Pulavarthi said.

She said that the tent featured eight different student sellers on Saturday, and five on Sunday.

“They all have different products, varying from stickers, to jewelry, to clothing,” Pulavarthi said. “We also have some crochet items and some comic books today.” 

Pulavarthi said this was Student Made’s first year doing the fair and the organization is “hoping to continue being at the show” in the future

“We know that the show usually brings in a large crowd, and we want to share more about what Student Made is and give student creators a chance to see what it’s like to put a booth together at these big events,” she said. “Giving all these customers a chance to support students also has been amazing.”   

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Artists Robin Smith and her husband Steve Smith of Steve Smith Hometime sold metal lawn ornaments with bright designs acting as lighting at the MSU Arts and Crafts Show. Robin said that Steve creates the design for the art, while she does the metal work. The couple has been traveling from their home in Iowa to East Lansing for over a decade for the show, she said

“How could you not love it? The campus is gorgeous," Robin Smith said. "The turnout -- they don't care if it's raining, if it's cold. The people come. This is a very well-attended event."

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