By COLLEEN D. CURRAN — Hyattsville’s arts scene continues to grow, and with it, the annual arts festival. Find “a little of everything” at the Downtown Hyattsville Arts Festival: Arts & Ales, which returns for its 11th year this Saturday in Hyattsville.
The event offers a wide variety of exhibits from more than 100 artists, including crafters, painters, graphic artists, illustrators, sculptors and more. Six main stage entertainers, like locals Janine Wilson Band and Wild Anacostias, will perform during the festival. Several food vendors and food trucks will serve tasty meals and sweet treats, and beverages will be available from six Maryland craft breweries, including Streetcar 82 Brewing Co. and Maryland Meadworks, the first meadery in Prince George’s County. The Maryland Milestones Anacostia Trails Heritage Center will serve as an air-conditioned cooling center with seating and a water-cooling station.
This year, in addition to the festival site, there are several small businesses hosting events along the Route 1 Corridor. Tanglewood Works is holding a tie-dying workshop, Artworks Now will have visual art activities for children and Pyramid Atlantic Art Center will host an open gallery and studios, to name a few.
“Hyattsville is a growing market. It is growing in capacity and is a homegrown, authentic space for local artists and art lovers to come and enjoy,” said Justin Fair, economic development coordinator at the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation (CDC), which has organized the festival since 2011. The festival is “an opportunity for us to show off our geographic strength [and] our local vendors.”
The Hyattsville CDC operates the festival in collaboration with many sponsors, including the City of Hyattsville, Studio 3807 and Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission M-NCPPC. Fair described the sponsors as “the life blood of the event.” Businesses and other organizations recognize the economic potential in Hyattsville and they are “involved members of our community looking to work with the population,” Fair said.
The success of previous festivals generated interest from new vendors and participants. “As a whole, what you’re seeing is not just our community being jazzed about the festival; you’re seeing a wider market that’s excited for the event,” Fair said.
New vendor Savor at 3807 — a culinary space within the mixed-use development and residential complex of Studio 3807, located in the Gateway Arts District — is contributing to the event by adding even more food variety by featuring four artisanal vendors at the festival: DC Sweet Potato Cake, Sauce, Agora Artisan Market and Relish Market. For new sponsors and contributors, this festival is “an opportunity for those vendors to get to know the Hyattsville market and for Hyattsville to get to know them,” Fair said.
Numerous past festival participants, like popular food vendor Bill’s Backyard BBQ, are back this year. According to Fair, about “70 percent [of exhibitors and vendors] are returning this year. They see this as a valuable market and an essential, fun event that they get to enjoy.”
Local artist Deborah Moore of Wooly Bear Beads said she is excited to participate and is “so thrilled about the artists’ community that’s developing” in Hyattsville. This will be Moore’s third time at the festival, and this year she is hosting demonstrations and children’s activities. “I’m local. It’s my festival. I love the spirit of it. It’s so full of energy, life, vitality and interesting exhibits,” Moore said. “There’s a lot of variety and such a wide spectrum of different types of art.” Moore added that there is a lot to offer everyone who attends, including those looking for unique gifts.
Artist Marsha Stein, a Mount Rainier resident, is also returning this year. Stein has sold her art in the festival for about five years. “I come back because I really love this community,” Stein said. “The arts festival is a very fun neighborhood event that spans several blocks in downtown Hyattsville. There is a little of everything in terms of arts and crafts.”
More than just a street festival, this is truly an arts festival, one that supports local and regional artists and also the initiatives of other nearby businesses. Community engagement, participation and the help of sponsors make this event possible.
The free, family-friendly Downtown Hyattsville Arts Festival: Arts & Ales is Saturday, Sept. 22, from noon to 6 p.m. in the Gateway Arts District on Farragut Street, Gallatin Street and Church Alley in Hyattsville. Discounted parking is available to festival-goers at the Hyattsville Justice Center Garage. Arrow Bicycle will offer complimentary bike valet.