West Oak Lane seeks to reclaim jazz-festival vibe with Night Market and concert

 From above the Sedgwick Theater, a view of the 2012 Mt. Airy Night Market. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

From above the Sedgwick Theater, a view of the 2012 Mt. Airy Night Market. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

On Thursday, Night Market will come to West Oak Lane for the very first time.

The Food Trust, in partnership with the Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation (OARC), will host the celebrated food fair along the 7100-7300 blocks of Ogontz Ave. from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

OARC will also bring a new version of the West Oak Lane Jazz Festival to the area.

This time around, the musical performances will be held indoors for a one-day-only concert, from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday at the nearby Keswick Theater in suburban Glenside.

Different days, connected mission

The two events are separate, but the decision to hold the concert so closely to the food fair was intentional, said John Ungar, chief operating officer of OARC.

“It’s absolutely tied in with Night Market,” he stated.

Ungar maintained that awareness generated by the former West Oak Lane Jazz Festival, which was permanently cancelled last year, was a large part of why Food Trust approached the organization to bring Night Market to the neighborhood.

Night Market details

The street fair will bring 60 food vendors to the neighborhood, giving festival-goers a tasty mix of old Night Market favorites as well as new fare from food-truck vendors, such as Vegan Truck, Reuben on Rye (Jewish Delicatessen), Samosa Deb (Indian) and Surf and Turf.

West Oak Lane’s own Relish, Green Soul and Victoria’s Kitchen will also be serving up chow for the hungry hoards.

Official sponsors Sixpoint Brewery, Penns Woods Winery and Philadelphia Distilling will be on hand to vend alcoholic beverages.

Upwards of 10,000 to 15,000 attendees are expected to descend upon Ogontz Avenue for an evening of dining, sipping and discovery, said Diana Iskolsky Minkus, Night Market project manager.

“We’re expecting a strong presence from the local community,” she shared.

NewsWorks will not only cover the event, but will have a table to connect with visitors.

Dinner, shows and other attractions

At a main stage on Ogontz Avenue, between Wooster and Tulpehocken streets, there will be jazz performances by the Kimmel Center Youth Jazz Ensemble, gospel vocals from Carlton Aiken and the Faithful, R&B sounds from C-Young and hip-hop from Halfro.

Near the triangle at 72nd Avenue, DJ Jazzy Joe will spin for the crowd.

Members of Germantown’s Philadelphia School of Circus Arts will put on a mini-circus on the avenue by Middleton Street. There, aerialist and other acrobatic performances will take place.

Spectators can catch Japanese taiko drumming group, KyoDiako, at that location.

Attendees will also be invited to share recipes and stories of food and gardening with videographer Laura Deutch and her Messages in Motion van as part of the Mural Arts Program’s ongoing heirloom food-exploration project, “What We Sow.”

The video van will be located in the Relish Restaurant parking lot, where there will also be a designated seating area.

Additional tables and chairs will be available in various areas on the avenue. Public restroom facilities will be located where the avenue intersects Tulpehocken, Walnut Lane and Homer Street.

OARC is still working on the possibility for some public parking on cordoned-off portions of Ogontz Avenue, Ungar said.

Unlike in the past with the jazz festival, there will be no shuttle service available.

Ogontz Avenue will be closed to traffic, on Thursday from 2 p.m. through midnight.

Jazz-show details

Two days after Night Market, OARC will continue the festive vibe by hosting a new incarnation of the West Oak Lane Jazz & Arts Festival.

Jazz legend Roy Ayers will be the headliner, joined by Bobbi Humphrey, Carol Riddick, Urban Guerrilla Orchestra and the Philadelphia Senior Youth Band.

Ungar said the concert is a scaled down, intimate form of the former three-day affair.

Though smaller than in past years, the show’s anticipated attendance will be greater than what any venue in West Oak Lane can hold, which is why the organization chose to hold it in the 1,300-seat Keswick, said Ungar.

Billed as an OARC fundraiser, the general-admission price for the ticketed event is $43. Tickets are still available.

About the atmosphere

Though the original mission of the festival was to brand the neighborhood and Ogontz Avenue, the organization now has to find ways to raise money to continue its revitalization efforts, Ungar explained.

“Times have changed,” he said. “Our resources are a lot lighter.”

Drawing on the eight-year history of the jazz festival in the neighborhood, the organization wants to continue creating an atmosphere of arts and culture for the community each mid-June, Ungar said.

OARC would like to see some rendition of both Night Market and the jazz festival become recurring events.

“We hope to bring both back,” he said. “If not this exactly, something equally fun.”

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