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5 Things to Enjoy at the Legendary University District StreetFair

The 48th Annual University District StreetFair is coming up this weekend, and it offers tons of fun you won’t want to miss. Beyond the fun, this event and its legacy have a more profound meaning that’s especially resonant today.

The first University District StreetFair was held in 1970, making it the longest running festival of its kind in the county. The brainchild of Japanese American merchant and pacifist Andy Shiga, the StreetFair was envisioned as an event to heal the community. Riots, protests and violence had erupted in the University District in response to the United States’ invasion of Cambodia and the shooting of four students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University, and the founders of the StreetFair knew the community needed help.

Shiga was a passionate pacifist who fought discrimination, violence and divisiveness by initiating dialogues between different factions. He envisioned the StreetFair as a chance to promote understanding and tolerance. This year’s SteetFair is a chance for fun, but it’s also a reminder of the ideals that Shiga lived for: communication, unity and respect in times of difficulty and hardship.

Come celebrate these ideals this Saturday and Sunday while you enjoy the following fun opportunities:

1. Shopping

The University District StreetFair was originally conceived as an open-air arts festival where craftspeople could sell their wares, and that aspect hasn’t changed a bit since 1970. Over 150 artists, craftspeople, designers, jewelers, makers and builders will join in the celebration and offer their wares.

The University District Farmers' Market is the original neighborhood farmers' market. Every Saturday it brings four to five thousand families to The District and this weekend will be no different.

Michael Loeffler of The Hatterdashery is a 41-year veteran of the StreetFair, and he’ll be selling beautiful “coverings to protect and embellish your head.” You’ll also find recycled art from Collage-O-Rama, unique hand printed T-shirts by BleachFactory, ballpoint pen compositions from Art By Tai and plenty of other curiosities to pique your interest.

Local shops are also open all weekend! Stop in and see the offerings of longtime Universery District favorites like Bulldog News, with over 1,500 titles, and Gargoyles Statuary.

2. Food

Sharing a meal is a manifestation of social behavior in all cultures, so a StreetFair about community would be sorely lacking without cuisine. Don’t worry – you’ll find plenty to eat at U District StreetFair.

The restaurants and bars along University Way offer attendees a chance to sit down and relax while enjoying delicious eats. The University District is known for its immense food options, with over 22 countries' cuisines represented along "The Ave." Finn MacCool’s is an Irish pub with grub and brews, Chili’s South Indian Cuisine will spice up your StreetFair experience and Oasis Tea Zone is the perfect place to grab a bubble tea or a quick snack like Nutella wontons.

There will also be plenty of food vendors at the StreetFair, so be sure to come hungry! Try Seattle’s Frelard Tamales, get some savory goodness from Paella House, experience authentic Afghan cuisine by Tribal Taste Afghan Delicious, enjoy lumpia by Lumpia World or snag a Japanese-style hotdog from Tokyo Dog.

If you have a sweet tooth, you’re in luck. Enjoy some elephant ears, get strawberries fresh from Biringer Farm or scarf down Scout’s Mini Donuts.

3. A Beer Garden

No joyous community event would be complete without a beer garden! Courtesy of Big Time Brewery, the beer garden will be right outside their location on University Way at 41st Street. You can sit outside to soak in the beautiful weather while sipping a delicious microbrew, or take shelter inside should things get rainy – this is Seattle, after all.

4. Live Music

The University District has long been an incubator for the live music scene in Seattle, with popular grunge acts such as Nirvana and Soundgarden playing the UD early in their careers. The StreetFair also offers an opportunity to hear musicians from Seattle and all over the Northwest. Some performers will take the stage, while street performers and local buskers will keep the whole of University way lively.

Stage acts will play a variety of tunes to delight the ears of StreetFair-goers, ranging from R&B and funk to progressive bluegrass and marimba. Whether you prefer to sit and listen or get your groove on, this year’s musical lineup has something for everyone. Stay into the evening and catch the Saturday night show at Neptune Theater.

5. Body and balloon art

Kids (and adults who appreciate the finer things in life) will enjoy having their faces painted, getting henna tattoos or acquiring balloon animals. If you or your kids are really daring, you can even match your face paint design to your balloon animal. After the fair, catch a movie, hit the lake, or visit one of the nearby museum exhibits for the perfect end to a beautiful day in the city.

The city is growing and changing, so now more than ever it is important to support the things that help to give Seattle its soul. Attending the University District StreetFair is tons of fun, but it’s also more than that. By joining in, you can affirm the importance of community, the possibility of peace and the value of building unity and connection. To learn more and plan your experience, visit http://udistrictstreetfair.org/.

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