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7 Great Things to Do for free around Ann Arbor this week, and a handful of others I’d pay good money for

There's always loads of interesting things to do in and around the Ann Arbor area, even in February! Whether it's just you, you and a friend, or the whole family looking for something fun to do, I know you'll find something out of the ordinary here to enjoy. Here are 7 great things to do for free:   1. Chime Concert: Kerrytown Shops Saturday, February 13 | 10:30a-11a (Every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) Kerrytown Market and Shops All invited to play one of 100 songs, with melodies transcribed in numbers, on the 17-bell chime's numbered keys. Ambitious players can add chords. Local chime master Heather O'Neal demonstrates.   2. Creature Encounters - Sloth! Saturday, February 13 | 1-5pm 4940 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd. The Creature Conservancy is featuring Poco, a two-toed sloth, during the month of February! He will appear on the Stone Stage each Saturday and Sunday - at 2:00pm and again at 4:00pm. Other animal ambassadors are also on display! Indoors and/or outdoors you can see cougar, prairie dogs, snapping turtles, alligator, white-necked raven, axolotls, kangaroos, wallaby, muntjac, vultures, Arctic foxes, emus, giant tortoises, cravens, peafowl, macaws and more during your visit. Bring a snack and warm up at an indoor fireside picnic area.   3. Strings Showcase: U-M School of Music Tuesday, February 16 | 3pm U-M Moore Bldg. Britton Recital Hall, 1100 Baits (off Broadway), North Campus Outstanding string students perform solo and ensemble chamber works.   4. Skazat! Poetry Series at Sweetwaters Tuesday, February 16 | 7-8:30pm Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea, 123 W. Washington Reading by Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative (Kalamazoo) cofounder Denise Miller, author of the recent CORE, a collection of poems based on the stories of African American sharecroppers of the Great Migration.   5. Smarty Pants Trivia Smackdown: Chelsea District Library Tuesday, February 16 | 8-9:30pm Chelsea Alehouse, 420 N. Main, Suite 100 All invited to round up 6 people to compete in a 5-round trivia contest. Prizes for the top 2 teams.   6. Nerd Nite Thursday, February 18 | 7-9:30pm Live, 102 S. First Popular monthly event featuring several speakers TBA (at who give fun and informative talks, 18-21 minutes long, about things that interest them, everything from nanoparticles to the science of the Simpsons and the genealogy of Godzilla.   7. University Philharmonia Friday, February 19 | 8pm Hill Auditorium Oriol Sans conducts this ensemble of music majors in Brahms' Serenade no. 1, one of his first orchestral works, which combines classical instrumental forces, a strong Romantic drive, and a delightful pastoral character. The program also includes Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kijé Suite, a work well known for its catchy melodies, bold rhythms, and surprising orchestral colors. Preceded at 7:15 p.m. in the lower lobby by a lecture on the program.   And a handful of others I would pay good money for:   1. Comparative Cupping: Zingerman's Coffee Company Sunday, February 14 | 1-3pm | $30 Zingerman's Coffee Company, 3723 Plaza Dr. Zingerman's Coffee staff offer taste samples of coffees from around the world using the tools and techniques of professional tasters.   2. The Moth Storyslam: Michigan Radio Tuesday, February 16 | 7:30-9pm | $10 The Circus, 210 S. First St. Monthly open mike storytelling competition sponsored by The Moth, the NYC-based nonprofit storytelling organization that also produces a weekly public radio show. Each month 10 storytellers are selected at random from among those who sign up to tell a 3-5 minute story on the monthly theme. The 3 judges are recruited from the audience. Monthly winners compete in a semiannual Grand Slam. Space limited, so it's smart to arrive early.

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