By Hannah Stryker
Clouds of charcoal grill smoke filled the air as street vendors and food trucks crowded the perimeter of the H Street Festival in Washington D.C. on Saturday, September 21. Floods of visitors enjoyed 11 blocks of the festival and 14 staging areas under the heat of the sun.
The annual H Street Festival is one of D.C.’s most highly-attended events because it represents diverse themes and is inclusive to people of all ages. The event began as a 500 participant block party over 12 years ago, but due to tremendous success, the festival now has a staggering 150,000 person participation.
H Street Festival has many sponsors, including Lyft, Verizon and Airbnb. The festival’s organizational partner is the Department of Small and Local Business Development. This corresponds with one of the purposes of the event; the festival has proven to reduce commercial building vacancy rate from 75% to 5%, according to the official H Street Festival website. In a beautiful yet pragmatic way, the arts have become the sole reason for economic growth in the neighborhood.
Vendors and local businesses were required to register on the H Street website to secure a spot at the festival. The bustling street granted visitors access to art boutiques and cuisines from all cultures. The options ranged from pho food trucks and falafel stations to carpet and art print sales.
“It was awesome to see so many different people come together to experience art, fashion, food and music,” University of Maryland sophomore journalism major Charlotte Crook said. “It was a great space to discover and support local artists and businesses.”
In addition to the variety of delectables and art vendors, there were also bands and vintage thrift pop-up shops. An Earth, Wind and Fire tribute band played on the 8th Street stage, while Cheick Hamala Diabate from West Africa played on 14th Street.
Be sure to check out the H Street Festival next year to experience the merging of multicultural values and ideas, and to take a step into the realm of ever-changing art.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Hannah Stryker.
Hannah Stryker is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.