Metro Weekly

Block Party: The 17th Street Festival is Saturday!

The annual 17th Street Festival is one of the city's best street celebrations

17th Street Festival – Photo: Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets

“The 17th Street Festival has its own character,” says Bill McLeod, the executive director of Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, which organizes the annual event.

“Whenever I talk to people who have attended the festival, they tell me amazing things. People keep telling me we have the nicest mix of vendors, the nicest kids’ area, the best music.”

Every summer, organizers shut down 17th Street NW and set up booths where 120 vendors, many of them artists, sell handmade goods — from hats to jewelry to cigars to paintings.

The remaining booths are reserved for local nonprofits, for-profit start-ups, local businesses or community groups, and a kids’ area, complete with snow cones, lemonade, soccer games, an inflatable moon bounce, and a misting tent. The festival also features live acoustic music at mobile sites along 17th Street.

“One of the things that makes the festival unique is we don’t have food vendors in the street,” says McLeod. “A lot of other festivals’ food offerings are terrible: it’s shit on a stick, funnel cake. Instead, we encourage the restaurants to get involved. We have 16 outdoor cafes on 17th Street.

“So even if you don’t want to look at art, you can experience your neighbors and what your neighborhood has to offer by enjoying a glass of wine, or lunch, or coming early for dinner. It really is a fun and festive day to celebrate 17th Street.”

The 8th Annual 17th Street Festival is on Saturday, Aug. 26, from Noon to 6 p.m. on 17th Street between P and R Streets NW. Visit 17thstreetfestival.org.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com