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FRIDAY, June 7 –– Adado Riverfront and Cherry Hill Park — and various spots between — bustled with artist tents, zip lines and live music Thursday night for Dam Jam. The event was hosted by Lansing 5:01, which seems to be perfecting its formula to get students out of their habitual college town gatherings to explore Downtown Lansing.
Attendees easily accessed both parks thanks to the Michigan Princess, which made its grand return last night to the Grand River. Along the river, attendees passed musicians and spoken word artists such as Shiatown and Sareem Poems performing along the River Trail. The boat couldn’t clear the bridge north of Adado Park, but performances extended into Old Town, where headliners StarFarm and DJ Etta performed near the Brenke Fish Ladder.
Josh Holliday, Dam Jam’s architect, previously coordinated BridgeFest under the Shiawassee Street Bridge, but due to the construction, he had to think of a new place for the riverside concert. The result was a multimodal-transit music festival.
“So many people have been to the downtown areas like Adado Riverfront Park or the Lansing City Market, but they haven’t experienced the full breadth of the Lansing River Trail,” Holliday said. “They are definitely going to come back because they are going to get a flavor and a taste of what is going on down here and soon they are going to want all of it.”
Some of that flavor was generated by food trucks such as Picnic and Shove-It Pizza that set up near the stage in Adado Riverfront Park. Next to the food trucks was the artisan village which invited young, emerging artists to showcase a variety of goods such as handmade zines and graphic prints. 5:01 intern Katie Musial, a senior at MSU, coordinated the artist market to introduce younger residents to witness what Downtown Lansing has to offer.
“It’s crazy how many people have been like ‘I didn’t know this place even existed,’” Musial said referring to the hoard of students who attended Thursday’s festival.
Musial reached out to individuals and student groups at MSU and LCC to spread the word about Dam Jam. As a result, Maddie Chaffer, a junior at MSU who prefers they/them pronouns, had their first encounter with the Lansing art community as a vendor. Chaffer and their partner, Elvis Vasquez, co-run a publication called “NOFUNBADTIME,” which publishes zines full of pseudo-science and jokes that pose existential questions about the human form. Chaffer said they “plan to do more shows in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids this summer,” but are looking forward to learning about more opportunities for emerging artists in Lansing.
To learn more about Lansing 5:01’s events, go to lansing501.com.