BY KRISSI HUMBARD — Hyattsville’s beloved arts fest returns this Saturday to mark its 10th year. The festival has hosted hundreds of artists over the years, and this year will be no different. The festival will again feature Maryland craft breweries and food trucks, along with art, music and performances.
The Downtown Hyattsville Arts & Ales Festival is organized by the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation (HyCDC) in partnership with the City of Hyattsville and — joining again this year, the Brewers Association of Maryland.
The festival began as a way to draw people to Hyattsville and to promote the Gateway Arts District. “It was part of a vision for promoting art, artists, and the arts district,” said HyCDC Event Coordinator Rex Carnegie.
The festivals have grown over the years, in size and scope. In its first year, 32 artists exhibited; last year there were 129 artists in attendance. This year there will be 100 artists showing their wares at the festival, a deliberate move to make the festival more manageable, organizers say. In 10 years, the festival has featured hundreds of artists and performers, hosted thousands of visitors and switched location three times. Last year was the first year that Maryland craft brewers were invited to attend the fest.
Though the artists and venues have changed over the years, the commitment to bringing a variety of quality artists to the area has remained. “The quality of art is always a focus,” Carnegie said, “and we have added more musical acts [over the years], as well, for our attendees.”
Carnegie says organizers have tried to incorporate many types of art, as well. Over the years, the festival has featured mime, technology and digital arts, and this year will feature poetry.
Poet Sarah Browning said she is excited about the festival. “Beer and poetry are two of my favorite things, so I’m thrilled they’re being put together at the Arts & Ales Fest in Hyattsville,” she said.
Zozobra Publishing, a bilingual poetry press based in Hyattsville that focuses on Latinx writers, has organized a poetry reading at Maryland Milestone’s Welcome Center. The “Punch Back Poetry Reading,” organized by local resident José R. Ballesteros, will feature poets Browning, Angela María Spring, and Cacayo.
“The event celebrates Latinx voices and letters and I’m glad to read in solidarity with Latinx neighbors targeted by this administration and by all those who challenge their fundamental human rights,” Browning said. “Poetry can share our stories, humanize one another, build bridges, expose injustice, and imagine another world, one in which we build gardens instead of walls, classrooms instead of detention centers.”
Local artists will again be present, as well as artists from all over Maryland, Virginia and DC. Exhibiting artists this year will show paintings, drawings, photographs, handmade puppets, jewelry, hair and skin products, handmade and vintage clothing, accessories, mosaics, paper goods, home decor, textiles, pottery, wood carvings, sculpture, dolls, books, blown glass and more — definitely something for everyone! There will also be kids activities, art demonstrations, and hands-on art activities.
There will also be six musical and dance performances throughout the day, giving attendees the chance to grab a beer or bite to eat and get their groove on. Jayamangala will kick things off at noon with an Indian Dance performance; local Indie Rock band Blue Plains will rock at 1 p.m.; singer-songwriter Cissa Paz will captivate with Brazilian, African, Cuban rhythm and prose at 2 p.m.; local band the Janine Wilson Band will take the stage for some roots rock and americana music at 3 p.m.; The Wild Anacostias will blow attendees away with their march brass band, cajun, zydeco and R&B tunes at 4 p.m.; and the Atomic Mosquitoes will close out the show with their danceable surf rock at 5 p.m.
Attendees won’t go hungry or thirsty during the festival. Food will range from mediterranean to Caribbean cuisine, including vegetarian options. Halal Kitchen; Papa’s Kettle Korn; Grapevine Restaurant; Jammin Flava; Bunny & the Bear smoothies; and Yummy Bear ice cream. There are also a number of restaurants within walking distance of the festival.
Maryland brewers will be offering beer for sale by the glass this year. Participating breweries and other craft beverage vendors include: Flying Dog Brewery, Oliver Brewing Co, 7 Locks Brewing, The Brewer’s Art, upcoming local brewery Streetcar 82 Brewing Co., DuClaw Brewing Co., Manor Hill Tavern, and locals Franklins Brewery and Maryland Meadworks. There will be sangria served by Dragonfly Farms. Growler fills and to-go beer will also be available.
The festival takes months of preparation and is all hands on deck. “What makes it worth putting on year after year is the terrific feedback we get from our artists and from the community at large,” said HyCDC Executive Director Stuart Eisenberg. “Many folks get a look at Hyattsville through our festival and so we feel we are putting this community’s best foot forward.”
The Downtown Hyattsville Arts & Ales Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 23 from noon-6 p.m. over three streets of downtown Hyattsville (Farragut & Gallatin Streets near Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store). The event is free and family-friendly. Ales are sales by the glass, ages 21+. $5 all-day rate parking at Hyattsville Justice Center Garage and designated city lots.