Photo Courtesy of Monica Sabella/MJ

Outdoor concerts are always the best. The sun setting behind you as you sit with a cool drink in your hand, the smell of food wafting towards you, resting on the rhythmic waves coasting your way from the stage at the center. On Aug. 1, such a concert was brought to UM-Dearborn’s own backyard with the Fairlane Folk Festival at the Henry Ford Estate.

The festival was the first of its kind for the Ford Estate. Up until now, there had been one or two venues offered on the estate to residents, primarily for orchestral music. However, August  brought a very different set of sounds, with alternative Michigan-based bands and artists including the Green Gallows, Pig Pen Theatre Co., the Accidentals, Thunderwude, Joshua Davis and a number of others.

The night of the event, people traveled from all over Michigan, some from Canada also, to catch the concert.

“We’re imports,” laughed Jules R., a native of Ohio, with his friend Marsha from Canada. “We love the music; it’s not like the folk music from when we were young.”

According to the Ford Estate’s Community outreach specialist, Colin Bowyer, plans to throw the event had been long in the making. It was a celebration of the love both Clara and Henry Ford had for culture and music, particularly folk music, which they wished to give to the Dearborn community, Bowyer said.

Organizers of the event worked hard to include as many Michigan-based vendors as possible. Artists set up booths in front of the house, with beer gardens around the corner and a pathway leading concert-goers to an open alcove lined with food trucks. Each dining area included picnic tables decorated with flowers and table cloths and large jenga games.

Photo Courtesy of Monica Sabella/MJ

One of the most remarkable and unique aspects of the concert was the comfortable atmosphere the concert maintained throughout the course of the evening.

“It’s like we’re playing in somebody’s backyard,” Savannah Buist of the Accidentals remarked from the stage.

During the event, it wasn’t unusual to catch a glance of artists and musicians roaming the estate before and after their shows, talking with fans and grabbing a bite to eat from one of the food trucks.

“Every time, I love playing in Michigan. It’s absolutely beautiful and I’m happy that this space is being used again,” Davis said.

For young and old, the night was one all could enjoy.

“Music speaks across all different age groups. I love seeing it. There’s everything from babies in strollers to kids all ages,” festival attendee Dianne Locke said.

“It’s a really special opportunity for the community to enjoy the estate and the grounds,” said UM-Dearborn Chancellor Daniel Little. “It’s a great new tradition.”

The next event set to grace the Henry Ford Estate’s lawn is Music on the Meadow on Sept. 20, featuring the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra and celebrating the “rich history of Fairlane with the remarkable works of Copland, Bernstein and Tchaikovsky performed on the stunning grounds along the banks of the Rouge River.” An original composition by Michigan musician Stephen Lounsbrough will also be performed that night.

Tickets for Music on the Meadow are on sale now and available at three price levels:

         VIP- $175 and includes a gourmet brunch, VIP seating, VIP parking, access to tour the house and an ice cream social after the performance.  Advanced purchase required through the Dearborn Symphony only

         Patron – $50 and includes seating in a reserved area, reserved parking and an ice cream social following the performance. Advanced purchase required

         General Admission  – $20 includes lawn seating and parking. General Admission is available in advance or for $25 at the door.

For more information and links to purchase tickets for Patron level and General Admission tickets, visit or Tickets can also be purchased by phone at (313) 943-2354 or in person at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center Box Office, located at 15801 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, Michigan.