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Art Fair and Skate Contest Make for Fun First Gravity Festival

Art Fair and Skate Contest Make for Fun First Gravity Festival in Ferndale

(Crystal A. Proxmire, June 17, 2021)

Ferndale, MI – When asked if she gets nervous watching her son Nicholas do tricks on his scooter, Anne Nichols of Huntington Woods said “I’ve gotten used to it, but I still hold my breath when he does a flip.”

Nichols came to watch 18 year old Nicholas Zagone compete at the Gravity Festival Art Fair and Skate Contest in Ferndale on Saturday. This was the first year for the festival, which attracted thousands to Geary Park in Ferndale near the Pleasant Ridge border. The festival made use of the City’s new skate park, as well as featured booths with local artists.

“He was 8 or 9 when he started,” she said.  “I’m really pr0ud of him.  He’s been teaching scooter lessons at Modern Skate and Surf since he was 13.”  She said that the way he teaches younger kids, and how hard he works are the things she is most proud of.  But his moves are impressive too.  “He does this sort of sideways flip where he goes really high and spins 360 around.”

The Skate Park gives people of all ages a place to come together to hone their skills and meet friends.  Surrounded by cheering spectators in an atmosphere of fun and art made their Saturday skate and scooter jam sessions even more memorable.

The Gravity Festival had other fun as well.  Trucks with food and ice cream helped kids and adults keep their energy up.  Ferndale Firefighters let kids cool down with water from the fire hose. And booths with artists made for a nice stroll under the shade of Geary Park’s trees.

Among the artists was Brittany Swider of Lady Forge, based in Howell.  As a silversmith, Swider has always loved working with metal. But she found her nice by taking antiques and turning them into jewelry.  Rings and necklaces made with ornate old forks and spoons are a popular item at art fairs and craft shows.

“They took a lot of pride in making things back then. They wanted everything to be beautiful,” she said as she showed off a ring with a goddess-like woman’s image in the shiny silver. “I like that each piece has a history, and I like to think about that.”

Christina and Dennis Jacobs of Clawson brought prints from their small business Arsenal.  “We screenprint everything together in a studio in the basement,” Christina said.  Their first screenprint project was making their wedding invitations together.  It was so fun they turned it into a hobby and a business, with images focusing on nature and the night sky and incorporating glow in the dark and metallic paints into the pieces. Over the past 12 years they’ve fit the business in where they could, until recently when they were able to make it full time.

“You really have to love it,” Christina said when asked advice for other artists trying to make it full time.  “It has to be all that you think about. Don’t do something that doesn’t make you want to get up every morning to work on it.”  Dennis added that creating the art is only 1/3 of the work.  “You have to figure out distribution. And you have to pay attention to the numbers. Know what you’re spending and what you need to charge.  And you need to do the work.”

The Gravity Festival brought skatepark fans from far and wide, including Mary Jane and Rye Renny of Pontiac.  The mom and daughter team are trying to raise money to build a skate park at Galloway Lake Park in Pontiac. On June 21 thee will be a Go Skate Day in Downtown Pontac on June 21 at 6pm to help raise money for the park. Their Facebook Page has more information.  “This park is going to be right near the high school, and it will give kids something to do, a way to stay busy.”

George Leichtweis, proprietor of Modern Skate and Surf, watched as dozens of talented people – many already regular customers – showed off their tricks and their gear.  Modern Skate and Surf was one of the sponsors for the event which helped raise money for Ferndale Parks and Recreation.

“This is a beautiful park here in Ferndale,” he said.  “This is the first event in over a year and a half that we’ve been at, and the sun is shining, and the people turned out. This is just a great event.”

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