Annual festivals add zest to fall season

Bad Sauce performs at the Takoma Park Folk Festival

Brisk mornings and piles of leaves (and work) mean one thing – it’s fall,  and it’s time to chill out, one party at a time.

Whether at Takoma Park’s Folk or Street Festivals or South Silver Spring’s upgraded neighborhood bash, residents should take advantage of the chance to mingle and enjoy the company of old friends amid their towns’ best offerings of food, music and crafts.
The veteran Takoma Park Folk Festival sees 4,000 to 5,000 visitors each year, and for its 34th year, the event is embracing the theme of Peace and Reconciliation, and using the healing power of folk to honor the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The event will be held at Takoma Park Middle School on September 11 from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“We feel that music can bring people together, can bring reconciliation, and that folk music in particular really has that as an explicit goal,” said Folk Festival treasurer Kevin Adler, a former chairperson of the event. “There are a lot of folk musicians who are peace activists who have made that a theme in their music and in their lives.”

The festival, newly chaired by Takoma Park City Councilmember Colleen Clay (District 2), will offer a space for musicians to informally jam with each other.

And unlike some other festivals, the Takoma Park Folk Festival takes an egalitarian approach to presenting their 50 musical acts, eschewing a separate main stage or headliners.

“I think that translates to an enthusiastic audience for everybody,” Adler said. “Whether it’s the performers at 11 kicking off the day, or whether it’s the folks who are playing at the end of the day, as the shadows are creeping across the area and it’s cooling off and people are getting up to dance.”

In addition to the music, more than 80 community tables will educate visitors about local non-profits and organizations, and food vendors and a juried craft sale provide high-quality and handcrafted fares.

Another Takoma Park event has been taking over Old Takoma’s main street since 1981. The Street Festival will run October 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., offering artisan crafts, children’s activities and food vendors.

And the event’s 18 bands, spread across three stages, are as varied as the quirky street itself. The blues are well represented, with local legends the Nighthawks, but the lineup also includes Afrofunk group Chopteeth, progressive hip hop artist Christylez Bacon – known for performing in airports – and the light, airy ukulele duo The Sweater Set.

The fifth annual South Silver Spring Street Fest will return to Kennett Street on September 17 from noon to 5 p.m., with offerings to satisfy everyone from single 20-somethings to empty nesters, festival organizer Evan Glass said.

Not only did the event upgrade from a block party, it has expanded their adult-friendly beer garden to include not just ales from Fire Station No. 1 but cocktails made by Jackie’s Sidebar, a Washington Post Editor’s Pick.

“We know there are a lot of adults in the neighborhood and the main reason for having the celebration is to get people out of their apartments so they can get to know each other,” said Glass, president of the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association.

“And for some strange reason, people like to bond over libations and we’re just helping facilitate that in a fun, safe, friendly environment,” he added.

Along with dozens of food and crafts vendors – many recruited by festival organizers scoping arts-website – there will be a rotating lineup of music throughout the day.

“We typically have everything from folk music to R&B, to spoken-word performers to belly dancers,” Glass said. “And so depending on the time of day, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Local Fall Festivals

Autumn Moon Festival

When: Friday, Sept. 9, 5:00-10:00 PM
Where: Ellsworth Drive, Downtown Silver Spring

BYO lantern showcase, Moon Cake eating contest, live performances, and tea tasting. Metro accessible; free garage parking available.

Silver Spring Jazz Festival

When: Saturday, Sep. 10, 3:30-9:00 PM
Where: Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place (corner of Fenton St. and Ellsworth Dr.)

Starring Marcus Johnson, with special Guest DJ Pulse. Also featuring Project Natale, Sheila Ross, and La Leyenda. Free parking in garages at Fenton & Cameron, Spring & Colesville, and Bonifant & Dixon. Metro accessible.

Takoma Park Folk Festival

When: Sunday, Sept. 11, 10:30 AM-6:30 PM
Where: 7611 Piney Branch Rd., Takoma Park Middle School

Music and dance from around the world on seven stages. Dance workshops, and children’s stage. Crafts and community tables. Free shuttle buses will run from the Takoma Park Metro station and from Montgomery College free parking lot to the festival site.

South Silver Spring Street Fest

When: Saturday, Sept. 17, 12-5 PM
Where: Newell St. and Kennett St. – South Silver Spring

Live music, international food, pet adoptions, beer garden, arts and crafts. Metro accessible; free parking available.

Taste of Bethesda

When: Saturday, Oct. 1, 11 AM-4 PM
Where: Woodmont Triangle – Bethesda

Over 55 restaurants and four stages of entertainment. Bethesda Circulator will run between the Bethesda Metro Station and parking garages; free parking available

Takoma Park Street Festival

When: Sunday, Oct. 2, 10 AM-5 PM
Where: Carroll Avenue – Old Takoma

Family-friendly music and crafts festival in Old Takoma brings an eclectic mix of live music, artisans, community organizations, children’s activities and food vendors. Metro accessible; limited free parking

Bethesda Row Arts Festival

When: Saturday, Oct. 15, 11 AM-6 PM and Sunday, Oct. 16, 11 AM-5PM
Where: Bethesda Row located on Woodmont and Bethesda Avenues, Elm Street and Bethesda Lane, east of Arlington Road

Features the work of 185 leading fine artists and crafters from the Mid-Atlantic and around the country.

Featured photo: Bad Sauce performs at the Takoma Park Folk Festival. Photo by Julie Wiatt

About the Author

Rebecca Lurye
Rebecca Lurye was a summer 2011 intern at the Voice, covering local news and happenings. She is a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she is studying print journalism and Spanish.