6 ways to shop local and gear up for the 59th Farmington Founders Festival

Now in its 59th year, the Farmington Founders Festival returns to the streets of downtown Farmington this weekend. And while the majority of events are scheduled for Friday, July 21, and Saturday, July 22, the party begins in earnest on Thursday night — that’s when the beer tent opens.

The festival draws big crowds each year, and there’s no reason to believe that this year will be any different. The thousands of extra visitors that Founders Fest brings to the city presents an opportunity for the locally-owned and small businesses of downtown Farmington, and so in this, our Founders Fest preview, we pair each festival attraction with a local business that syncs well with one another.

While no means an exhaustive list of the many special events and sales that the downtown shops, bars, and restaurants have planned to entice festival goers onto the sidewalks and into their doors, the following provides a few bread crumbs to lead visitors into doing some exploring of their own.

Beer tent, food trucks + live music
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday

The beer tent opens on Thursday, July 20, at 5 p.m., with Powerplay Detroit taking the stage from 7 to 10 p.m. Music begins again on Friday, July 21, at 2 p.m., with several bands lined up throughout the day before Fifty Amp Fuse closes out the night beginning at 8:30 p.m. And on Saturday, music begins at noon as the day leads toward festival closers and Queen tribute band Simply Queen sending us off at 9:30 p.m. Food trucks will also be on site.

A full line-up is available online.
Music fans check out the new Dearborn Music in downtown Farmington in 2021.
Dearborn Music - Farmington
33025 Grand River Ave.

High-powered cover and tribute acts anchor the beer tent line-up, including Fifty Amp Fuse, Tasty 80s, and Simply Queen. Dearborn Music, which opened its second location in downtown Farmington in September 2021, provides festival goers the opportunity to search the racks for vinyl records from their favorite bands.

Farmington Fido Festival
Friday & Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m.

The popular festival event featuring our furry friends returns this year, where festival goers can watch the dog-athletes from Ultimate Air Dogs and Disc Dogs of Michigan Frisbee Show compete, or even enter their own pups in a number of different contests. Dogs are welcome at the festival, though leashes are required.
The self-service dog wash stations at Tolonen Family Pet Shop.
Tolonen Family Pet Shop
23320 Farmington Rd.

Thinking about entering your own dog in one of the Fido Fest contests? Stop by this family-owned pet shop, which opened in 2021, to stock up on nutritious treats and training toys, or book a grooming. Pretty pups!

Kids Zone
Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Stage shows, Airborne Bouncers, live sand art, foam parties — there’s no shortage of kids’ activities at this year’s Founders Fest. Interactive activities abound, including sand art lessons and a video game truck brought by Motor City Gamers.
Rob Woelkers and customers at PLUSkateboarding. Photo by David Lewinski.
PLUS Skateboarding
33335 Grand River Ave.

After the kiddos get a rush of adrenaline from enjoying the inflatable bounce equipment from Airborne Bouncers, maybe action sports are in their future. Skateboards — and safety equipment — can be found at PLUS Skateboarding, which just celebrated its twentieth year in business in downtown Farmington.

Crafters Market
Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Crafters Market supplies the festival with booths run by local crafters, makers, artisans, and otherwise. It’s a varied group of vendors, and visitors can find a host of handmade products, including wearables, consumables, decor, and more.
Skep Space in downtown Farmington. (Photo: David Lewinski)
Skep Space
33104 Grand River Ave.

Skep Space is downtown Farmington’s newest arts center, featuring classes and workshops, exhibition and studio space, and events. Take a class now and sell your wares come next year’s Farmington Founders Festival. See you in 2024!

LOC Credit Union Color Run
Saturday, July 22, beginning at 9 a.m.

This annual 5K chip-timed fun run has participants cruising through downtown and nearby Shiawassee Park with multiple categories awarding winners. There will be four color stations to run through, for those inclined, and the race can be fun, competitive, or both — it’s up to you.

Race and registration info is available online.
Inside the Village Shoe Inn. (Photo: David Lewinski)
Village Shoe Inn
33224 Grand River Ave.

Need some new sneakers before race day? Head over to Village Shoe Inn, where this three-generation, family-owned business has been outfitting Farmington’s feet since the 1970s. Of course, if you’re looking for heels, cowboy boots, or sandals, there’s a good chance they have that, too.

Founders Festival Parade
Saturday, July 22, beginning at 10 a.m.

Take in the sights and sounds of the greater Farmington community at this year’s parade, which will have an Enchantment Under the Sea theme. The parade runs along Grand River Avenue between Farmington and Power roads.
Miguel Williams, owner-operator of Apothecary Coffee & Espresso. (Photo: David Lewinski)
Apothecary Espresso & Coffee
23366 Farmington Rd.

Ground Control Roasters
33319 Grand River Ave.

Apothecary and Ground Control are two locally-owned, high quality-focused coffee shops that opened downtown in the last 12 months. They’ll provide that extra morning jolt of energy as the community lines the streets, chatting with their neighbors while waiting for the parade to start.

Visit Farmington Founders Festival online for a complete breakdown of activities and events.
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Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.