The Rapidian

Eastown Streetfair embraces mix of art, food, weather

Despite a threatening weather forecast, the annual Eastown Streetfair was a celebration of crafts, music, food and beer for Grand Rapids locals and visitors.
Patrons filled Weatlhy Street between Giddings Avenue and Lake Drive to check out information from nonprofits and art

Patrons filled Weatlhy Street between Giddings Avenue and Lake Drive to check out information from nonprofits and art /Carly Schweppe

Eastown Streetfair drew children, adults and their dogs

Eastown Streetfair drew children, adults and their dogs /Carly Schweppe

Eastown geared up for rain in the early afternoon and kept the celebration going

Eastown geared up for rain in the early afternoon and kept the celebration going

On Saturday, the Eastown Community Association’s and the Eastown Business Association’s 44th annual Eastown Streetfair provided a little bit of everything from art, food and music to a downpour of rain and finally sunshine.

The over 140 artisans and non-profits set up in booths along Wealthy Street faced an hour or two delay when their products needed to be covered with plastic and any loose art prints or brochures needed chasing in the wind. However, people enjoyed the celebration of the Eastown neighborhood all day long.

“It’s actually kind of magical,” said Julie Davis Turner, a Grand Rapids resident who took cover under an awning with other attendees during the early afternoon rain. “I know it’s rough on the vendors, but I love it that people are still out. Lots of umbrellas, people running around, and it should blow over soon.”

Throughout the changes in weather, the festival brought families, friends and plenty of dogs out to Eastown to explore an array of patterned dresses, metal artwork, candles, soap, wooden boxes, screen printed T-shirts, glass necklaces and mirrors. There were henna artists, sidewalk chalk contests and raffle baskets filled with items donated from vendors as a fundraiser for the Eastown Community Association and the Eastown Business Association.

Nine different bands played on the main stage near the beer tent and food trucks selling items like smoked pork, tacos, cinnamon roasted nuts and ice cream. Eight more bands played inside Billy’s Lounge. Eastown Streetfair attendees could also take music home with them in the form of records and CD’s purchased from WYCE 88.1 FM’s annual sale.

“It’s a whole experience,” Turner said. “You smell the barbeque. You hear the music. You’re just with people you love to be around doing the same thing you love to do. That’s what’s great about the fair. They do it all.”

Marisa Sandahl, executive director of the ECA, noted that one of the big differences for this year’s event was a switch in the layout of the Streetfair.

“We used to have all the food on Ethel,” Sandahl said. “Now we have the food and the beer and the music all in this huge area so we’re hoping that creates more of an enjoyable atmosphere for people to engage in all three of those at once if they want.”

The Streetfair closed with a performance by local hip hop artist Lady Ace Boogie at 7 p.m. along with good weather and a crowd.

According to Sandahl, people look forward to the Streetfair long before September begins and some call it their most anticipated day.

“The ECA puts on a bunch of other events all year long,” Sandahl said, "but it’s really cool to be part of one that people are like ‘Yes, I have to be involved in that’ or ‘I have to be there’ or ‘I’m coming from across the state to be there.’”

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