originally published in the Rapidian
The 37th Annual Eastown street fair took place this saturday, helping local residents say good bye to another summer of art, music and food in one of Grand Rapids most popular neighborhoods.
Featuring 16 bands, as well as nearly 90 arts and crafts vendors, and several local business serving up food to fuel the festivities. Not even the intermittent bursts of rain kept people away from the fun.
At the intersection of Lake Dr and Wealthy St, the main stage hosted music by the Fainting Generals, Ribbons of Song, Delilah DeWylde & the Lost Boys, and the Northern Skies. Billy’s Lounge served as the second stage for an additional 8 bands including Gabrial James, Tokyo Morose, and Garganta.
This year was my first chance to experience the Eastown Street Fair. I volunteered to work for a couple hours at the booth shared by WYCE and the Rapidian. I encountered a lot of people that had attended the street fair in previous years. I was impressed by how appreciative people were towards the event, and the frequent mentions of the sense of community for the art and music scene in Grand Rapids.
It almost seemed that most every person I have met in the last year was on Wealthy St. One friend, a local photographer, stopped by to talk to us and browse the records, and told us that the WYCE used record sale was “the best part of the Eastown street fair”.
As well as meeting up with local friends, catching up on their latest news, and gathering their recommendations on what art or music to check out, I met a few new friends. My wife and I were invited to attend an upcoming music festival, and to an informal jam session underneath a mural being painted for Artprize. By the end of the night we were suspended nearly 5 stories above the city, conducting an interview with a seriously overworked artist splattered in at least 5 shades of Repcolite paint.
And that for me sums up what was so fascinating about the Eastown street fair. Not just the food or the great live music, but the opportunity to meet friends and neighbors face to face. The opportunity to make new friends, and experience new joys. The opportunity to know what it means to be actively engaged in the thriving community around us.