Detroit’s Fourth Street Fair 1969 (or so) to 2007

Ten years ago this month, Detroit’s Fourth Street held its final public block party.  That was in 2007.

I think that it started in 1969.  It could have been 1968 or 1970 though.  If I ever pin it down, I’ll note that here.

It was also known as the Positively Fourth Street Fair.  I never liked that because the Bob Dylan song Positively Fourth Street is pretty negative.  It’s a good song though.

I’ve performed there many times and helped with other things including planning and publicity.  There were plenty of other chores too, including 2 to 7 hours of clean-up on Sunday morning.  It wasn’t easy to put the fair on.

The fair ended for a number of reasons.  The same people put it on year after year and were getting burned out on the work.  The city was getting stricter that everything be authorized and licensed. They wanted us to dot every i and cross every T.  Then too, the character of the block was changing.  There’s a school on the block and another one nearby.  Some of the long-timers moved out and new people moved in.

I was sorry to see it go.  The fair was a unique and beautiful thing. If you never got to attend it, sorry.  If you did, you remember it.

From 2003 and 2005, from METRO TIMES archives and the late Sarah Klein:

From Detroit Yes:

There are a number of videos of the fair on youtube. If I find one that I especially like, I’ll post it.


My 2016 exhibition Lost Cultural Venues of Detroit included a section on the Fourth Street Fair:


2 Responses to “Detroit’s Fourth Street Fair 1969 (or so) to 2007”

  1. Douglas R. Parrish Says:

    I remember the fair fondly. Liked better than the Dalley n the Alley. Saw Rodriguez perform there. I think what I liked was the ‘ Jack in the Box ‘ effect. Like , anything could happen..out of nowhere. Derby girls. Women’s wrestling. Great garage bands. Saw Any Gore perform . Street artists.. Puppets( Thnx Maurice ).

  2. Kristin Ratynski Says:

    I lived on Fourth Street back in the day- 1981–1990- if I recall correctly! What fun those fairs were!

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