Festival organizers look to head off concerns about summer event

As part of an effort to keep the community informed about a new neighborhood-based festival, October Gallery founder Mercer Redcross attended East Mt. Airy Neighbor’s monthly board meeting Tuesday night to share event details and field questions.

Rain or shine, October Gallery will host the Artz and Groove Festival behind and on the 7100 block of Germantown Avenue on June 16 and 17. The free event will take place between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day.

While a number of the festival’s details are still being finalized, the majority of the event will be held in a large parking lot behind the Sedgwick Theater.

Three-quarters of that space will likely be used for vendors and outdoor performances, which will take place on an old loading dock there. The rest will be reserved for visitor parking.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Asked about additional parking, Redcross, who was joined by his small team of organizers, said he is looking into finding supplemental spaces, ACME supermarket’s nearby lot among them. Valet parking is also being considered.

“That is probably the number one concern,” said Redcross of having sufficient event parking.

Vendors will also be set up along Germantown Avenue in front of The Vendors Boutique, 7165 Lounge and Video Library.

7165 Lounge will host evening performances, including one by gospel singer Clifton Davis, part of a planned record release party.

At least 10 musical acts are expected to perform during the festival, said spokeswoman Stephanie Daniel.

Daniel and Redcross stressed that Germantown Avenue will not be closed during the event.

October Gallery’s Art Expo shut down the 7100 block of Germantown Avenue for three days last October. The poorly communicated move caught many residents by surprise and reportedly ate away at some businesses’ profits.

“The communication was horrible last year. That’s why we’re here,” said Redcross.

EMAN plans to have a festival point person, likely to be President Ken Reichert, who will stay in touch with organizers as the event takes shape.

“We just want to make sure that process and communication continues and not necessarily just through the press,” said board member Dan Muroff. “It’s terribly important that we have that dialogue.”

A NewsWorks report detailing the event preceded Tuesday’s meeting.

In it, Redcross told NewsWorks that he expected 15,000 people to attend the event over a three-day period. The long-time Mt. Airy resident said Tuesday that he doesn’t expect attendance to be that high over the now two-day festival.

“It’ll probably hover between seven-10,000 people,” said Redcross, noting that he doesn’t expect to see large masses of people at the event at any one time.

A private security team will be hired to oversee the event. Officers with the Philadelphia Police Department will also be on hand, said Redcross.

Daniel said the cost of the event will largely be covered by vendor’s fees. Each vendor – an expected 60-80 – will pay $500 for table for two days.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal