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Adams Morgan MainStreet Gearing Up for Annual Adams Morgan Day Festival

By Janet Lugo-Tafur*

[Note: Photographs accompanying this news story in the print edition can be viewed in the full PDF copy in the Current & Back Issues Archive.]

The 31st annual Adams Morgan Day Festival will soon be here — on Sunday, September 13.  The regional attraction returns with its signature focus on culture and diversity, and some new elements to boot. Festival goers will choose from numerous live music and dance acts across five stages and plazas, a variety of food, artwork, craft and gift vendors, and the fun Dance Plaza and Kids Area at the Marie Reed School playground. Months of preparation by the Adams Morgan MainStreet Group and its team of volunteers is once again creating a festival known for celebrating international cuisine, cultures, arts, diversity, and music.

The festival celebrates the creativity that comes from the synergy of diverse cultures, and this year it will be adding an eco-consciousness to the event. Brand new will be the Green Pavilion with purveyors of all things green grouped together at the Marie Reed School field. This special area will showcase vendors who specialize in green roofs, rain barrels, green office upgrades, climate change, renewable energy, energy & water conservation, personal care, organic food, home products, furniture and sustainable living practices — anything green or geared toward reducing carbon footprints.

New also for 2009 will be pedicabs available to traverse around Adams Morgan and from Metro stops to the festival. “We really wanted to highlight the need for, and to make a push for, more eco-friendly measures, and are pleased with the Green Pavilion along with some other measures we have are taking, including the use of recycled paper and soy-based ink for our printed materials,” said Risikat “Kat” Okedeyi, this year’s festival director.

This year’s theme, A Global Community of Cultures,” highlights the message of celebrating together, not separately — a unique quality of the Adams Morgan Day Festival, sponsored by the Adams Morgan Partnership and PNC Bank. In addition to “greening,” the festival will host another new area, aptly named the “Pet Zone.” Attendees will be able to find pet-related items and organizations in this designated area located on the Marie Reed tennis courts.

Bank of America is sponsoring the Cultural Stage at Unity Park and on the church steps at Euclid Street and Columbia Road. Coordinated by Celestino Zapata, it will showcase a mix of musical genres, theater, dance, and cultural performances, including the Sitar Center students.

The traditional Florida Avenue and Columbia Road live music stages will again “bookend” 18th Street. Volunteer Coordinator for the Florida stage, Pablo Grabiel, has pulled together a wonderful line-up that includes Brazilian Clube Do Samba, Latin jazz, Salsa, Reggae and Latin tropical fusion groups. The Columbia stage, coordinated by volunteers Kat Hansen and Aaron Pratts, will feature acts with American music roots that include, acoustic, folk, soul, funk fusion, blues, and rock. At Kalorama Park, Grabiel and Andrea Thompson will  be coordinating “Jazz in the Park” that will feature a mix of jazz performances from traditional to modern.

“Arts on Belmont,” coordinated by Avner Ofer, opens early — at 10 a.m. — with some 45 artisans displaying original artwork in a variety of media along that shady residential side street. Sponsored by the Harris Teeter market, attendees can meet the artists and peruse the high quality items from contemporary to traditional, including fine art & sculpture, crafts, jewelry, and photography. According to Adams Morgan MainStreet President Lisa Duperier, “New this year will be the local Design Within Reach studio offering, a pre-festival display of Arts on Belmont works and a pre-Festival reception.”

Adams Morgan retail stores and restaurants will be open for business, and there’s great people-watching from sidewalk the cafés. Look for some of these local businesses taking advantage of their special discounted booth rate: Tora Mata, Napoleon Café, Tibet Shop, Smash, Mint, and Oya’s Bazaar. And, of course, there’s always the commemorative T-shirt. To see what Adams Morgan offers year round in shopping, entertainment, and dining, check often at www.AdamsMorganNOW.com.

The Dance Plaza, located at Marie Reed, will allow for participation, learning, or just watching the Kukuwa Ghana Tribal Dancers, Malcolm X Drummers and much more. Kid’s Area, also at Marie Reed, will focus on fun and fitness with performers, a bungee trampoline and climbing wall. There will also be a “Chalk 4 Peace” area where kids and adults may create sidewalk art that embodies a message of peace and love.

DC Lottery, DC Chartered Health, Hilton Washington, Safeway, and Comcast are also sponsors. The success of the festival, however is due to the efforts of the local volunteers who have worked on obtaining petition signatures, vendor layout, stages and plazas, and who will be out in force on the festival day itself. Volunteer opportunities are still available, and include working at stages, pre-festival activities, and “day of” and breakdown. To volunteer, send an email to Volunteer Coordinator Emily Lindamood at VolsAMDay@AMMainStreet.org. And for more information visit www.AdamsMorganDayFestival.com.

The new festival layout originated by Adams Morgan MainStreet highlights the neighborhood’s small scale architecture and leaves the business storefronts visible. Many businesses, which in prior years would be closed on the day of the festival because their storefronts were blocked at the curb, will stay open this year. Attendees will be encouraged to use Metrorail and Metrobus and the recently added Circulator bus route to get to and from the festival. For those who will need to drive, there is a new parking garage — The Park at Adams Morgan — located at 1711 Florida Avenue.

*Janet Lugo-Tafur is Executive Director of Adams Morgan MainStreet Group, a DC native and proud mixture of the Guatemalan and Peruvian cultures.

Copyright (c) 2009 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Adams Morgan MainStreets. All rights reserved.