Monday, September 20, 2010

Best. Festival. Ever.

If you missed this year's H Street Festival, you missed out.  By all accounts, it was the biggest and the best one yet.  Mark your calendar now for the H Street Festival 2011: Saturday, September 17, 2011.  Next year, it wont coincide with Yom Kippur, so the attendance should be even better than this year's.  No official turnout estimate has come in yet, but many are predicting that the number of people in attendance exceeded 30,000, which is twice the number of 2009 attendees, which was three times the 2008 turnout of 5,000.  It certainly felt like there were twice as many people as last year and the great crowd was a real sign of progress on H Street and a tribute to the neighborhood and its many wonderful and diverse small businesses many of whom really went all out to do great sidewalk cafes, provide special menus and performances and events, and to promote the Festival.

TBD,  DCist, The Hill Is Home, and Frozen Tropics all have great pictures up.  Julia Christian of CHAMPS snapped one of our Mayor-elect (to be) Vince Gray who I'm told grew up just north of H Street.   

It was a truly beautiful day and there was a great crowd to enjoy the many, many fun and tasty offerings.  Our existing businesses brought their best, and soon-to-open spots like Toki Underground, Smith Commons, and Queen Vic showed why H Street is on the verge of becoming one of DC's best dining destinations.     

A hearty congratulations and a huge thank you to all the organizers and planners who volunteered to make the Festival possible.  Margaret Holwill (who can be followed at handled overall logistical coordination and media relations and, in particular, deserves great praise and appreciation for volunteering countless hours to make the Festival a resounding success as she does many things on H Street.  Holwill also identified the following people as playing leadership roles in pulling things together along with H Street Main Street:
Mary Ellen (Dolly) Vehlow, owner of Gallery OonH, and president of Pensare Design, an award-winning graphics firm, that also does the graphics for the Cherry Blossom Festival, Pew Foundation, Downtown BID, and many other groups.  Creative genius and muse for the Festival.  She also provided the Festival website which now includes design continuity.  Dolly and her husband Steve Hessler have long been involved in H Street.  They sponsor the Art Car exhibit which is conducted as a juried event.  They also sponsor the Speed Chess, Oral History tent, and many of the artists who show at the Festival. They contribute generously to H Street causes especially the Festival.

Steve Lambert, Talent Buyer for Rock and Roll Hotel and head of Hood Booking, one of the Top 10 music bookers on the East Coast.  Steve books over 100 bands a month from the 1000s he listens to until his ears bleed. He books the stage talent for the Festival and coordinates with the production company.

Julia Christian, Executive Director of CHAMPS. She is a "corporate loan" from the Board of Directors of CHAMPS to organize the applications process, day-to-day graphic, production of the Festival program, and other invaluable items.  Julia can do anything.

Gail Montplaisir, Taurus Design, who specializes in environmental design.  Gail organized the Green Street Exhibit and obtained grant money from DC Arts and Humanities to cover the costs of some of the artists who performed at the Festival.

Leonard Howell, Donohoe Companies, commercial real estate, who organizes vendors.  He orders all of the equipment necessary to stage the Festival and oversees its installation within a few wild and crazy hours on the morning of the Festival.  Leonard also arranged extended service for the H Street Shuttle and added a route from Eastern Market for the Festival.

Cody Bateman, the sound producer from National Events LLC  the professional production company that provided all of the stages, sound equipment, mechanicals, and technicians.

Charles Allen, Chief of Staff to CM Tommy Wells, who provided a government liaison nexus, helping with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, Metropolitan Police Department, DC Fire and EMS, DDOT, DCRA, and other.  Tommy Wells' office also facilitated the free bike valet in addition to lending us the services of Charles Allen - right in the middle of a political campaign.  We are really grateful.

There are others that did stuff but that's the main crew in addition to, of course, the business community who all worked to provide special offerings and to help promote the event.
It was awesome.  Thanks all!

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