For the 37th year, vendors, families, and dogs took over Takoma Park on Sunday in the annual Takoma Park Street Festival to celebrate the last of the warm weather with face painting, live music and, of course, fried food.
Among the booths lining the street, Kelly O’Connor, 50, a teacher at Montgomery Blair High School, had her jewelry business Beadage Jewelry Designs set up for customers.
“I live locally, so I kind of think of it as a social event,” O’Connor said as former students stopped by to say hello and newcomers shifted through necklaces. “It’s nice when some of my jewelry moves on to a new home.”
“This is a really nifty neighborhood,” she added. “It’s just multi-generational.”
Children overwhelmed the festival, with daycares, nurseries, and other stations for kids representing many of the shoulder-to-shoulder tents. But another option pervaded what would normally be your typical street fair — social activism.
Volunteers at one booth encouraged passers-by to register to vote. Another booth handed out buttons in support of a county executive candidate. People with matching logo t-shirts pushed petitions towards families walking by with their pets and toddlers.
Michael Neufeld, a 67-year-old Smithsonian curator, was there representing a local chapter of Amnesty International.
“We have several petitions to be signed,” Neufeld said of the group’s goal at the festival. “Amnesty International’s fundamentally about human rights, human rights education, freeing people overseas who are unjustly held.”
Neufeld’s booth fit right in in front of historic houses with a myriad of signs sticking out from every angle you looked. Each front yard encouraged onlookers to vote for a different candidate or support a humanitarian issue.
“Kinda like the Takoma Park tradition, you know, it’s a very activist town,” Neufeld said of the presence of social activists as the festival. “In Maryland, obviously, there’s a lot of activism and not just in Takoma Park, but ... we pride ourselves on our tradition.”
Whether gatherers were interested in social activism or not, there was plenty to do. Dawn Powell had come just to seek out a bit of fun.
“My niece is visiting from New York, so we decided to find something that was fun to do,” Powell said. “We saw there was going to be face painting and balloons and the bouncy house.”
The humidity got no one down as firefighters let children hold a fire hose and grandparents danced along to live music. To these Takoma Park natives, their fair seems to be the same as any other end-of-summer street festival.