New summer festival planned for Mt. Airy

A new arts and music event is in the works for Mt. Airy this summer.

The three-day Artsy Groove Festival will be held both on and behind the 7100 block of Germantown Avenue on June 15, 16 and 17. The free event, sponsored by October Gallery, will take place between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on each of those days.

Most of the festival will be held inside a large parking lot behind the Sedgwick Theater.

An old loading dock there will be used for outdoor performances throughout the day. The rest of the space will be used for vendors and visitor parking.

Vendors will also have tables set up along the sidewalk in front of Vendors Boutique, 7165 Lounge and the Video Library.

7165 Lounge will host some of the festival’s evening performances, which will include sets by Philly native and international R & B vocalist Jaguar Wright and gospel singer Clifton Davis.

The event will not close down Germantown Avenue, said festival spokesperson Stephanie Daniel.

October Gallery’s Art Expo shut down the 7100 block for three days last fall, which caused frustration for some business owners who said the street closure hurt their profits.

Founder Mercer Redcross said he plans on organizing a series of meetings between October Gallery, residents and civic groups to foster greater cooperation and participation.

“We want everybody on board, because that’s the only way this works,” he said.

For Redcross, the Artsy Groove Festival is a chance to provide the community with two smaller, seasonal festivals throughout the year, instead of just the Art Expo in the fall.

The Art Expo will return to Mt. Airy in October.

Splitting the Art Expo into two events will also help eliminate traffic issues and provide an opportunity to grow the event with the Mt. Airy community, said Redcross.

“If we plant this thing right in this community, I think it will grow,” said Redcross, who hopes to make the Artsy Groove Festival an annual event.

Artsy Groove will also provide “an outlet” for local jazz musicians, artists and vendors who would have participated in the West Oak Lane Jazz Festival, said Daniels.

The three-day fete on Ogontz Avenue was cancelled after an eight-year run.

Redcross said that October Gallery was responsible for bringing vendors to the West Oak Lane Jazz Festival for the past three years.

The event’s cancellation “does leave a void,” he noted, but added that “There’s no way we can replace the West Oak Lane Jazz Festival.”

Organizers are hoping to bring about 80 vendors, craftsmen, artists and musical guests to Germantown Avenue this June. Redcross said he expects 15,000 people to attend the festival over the course of the event.

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