For Leah Bailey, Thursday’s Night Market in Mt. Airy reminded her of the Mt. Airy Day Parade, which used to be held on Mount Airy Avenue and drew thousands of people out to mingle with neighbors.
The Night Market gathering was sponsored by the Food Trust and featured food trucks and stands from around the city, live music and art vendors. It provided the neighborhood with an opportunity for synergy, as residents and businesses from outside of the city and state gathered for one night.
“This neighborhood is up and coming, and it’s cool we have outsiders who come here to see what we have to offer,” said Leah Bailey, whose family has owned and operated Umbria Restaurant in Mount Airy for 22 years.
While the restaurant closed for the Night Market on Thursday night, Bailey had offered two samples from Umbria’s new menu – pork medallions with fire-roasted tomato and smoked gouda, and lamb and feta meatballs with a white wine and lemon sauce with leeks.
“I like that people were out and socializing,” Bailey said.
A few blocks down the street in front of Food For All, Deborah Mitchell sold her homemade vegan hummus. Mitchell, of Lancaster, founded FreshAPeel Hummus two years ago and traveled to farmer’s markets throughout the city to push her product, a daring mix of locally grown and organic ingredients like sweet potatoes and red beets combined into unusual flavors like wild buffalo, chocolate dessert and tangy lime. Last year, Mitchell convinced Mount Airy’s Fresh Market to sell her hummus, which Mitchell boasts of containing 75 calories and two grams of protein per serving.
Hoards of people lined to order food and drinks at the trucks and stands, which collectively had a worldly assortment of cuisine, as well as artists.
Justin Arwajo and his girlfriend Joelle Workman, both of West Philadelphia, sold their custom screen printed t-shirts at the festival. They had previously done so at June’s festival in University City, during which it rained heavily.
“It went really well until the weather apocalypse happened,” says Arawjo. “This might be our first time in Mount Airy.”
Camden’s Unity Community Center performed at the center stage of the festival, providing a lively soundtrack courtesy of the New Orleans style Royal Brass Band music and Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble during the festival.
Robert Dickerson founded the community organization with his wife, Wanda Dickenson, 28 years ago.
“When we first started in 1983, we had a lot of blight. Performing arts is the best thing for young people,” Dickerson says.
During the African drum and dance performance, Wanda Dickerson spoke of the sense of the community pervading over the festival, regardless of where its attendants hailed from.”If we don’t know where we come from, then we don’t know where we’re going,” she said.