What began as a simple community event in 1970 has blossomed into the University District StreetFair, a thrilling free, two-day festival with hundreds of vendors, artists, and performers. And beyond the fun, this event and its legacy have a more profound meaning that’s especially powerful today.
The first StreetFair was originally envisioned by Japanese American merchant Andy Shiga, who was a passionate activist that fought discrimination, violence, and divisiveness.
Shiga created the StreetFair not only as a chance for fun but as an event to heal the community. In 1970, 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. Shiga and the other StreetFair founders knew the community needed help. Hence, the festival was born. And now, the event is produced annually by the U District Partnership.
This year’s StreetFair, sponsored by Sound Transit, 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.
Below is just a sampling of the amusement everyone can enjoy while celebrating the 49th StreetFair this weekend.
Eat ridiculously tasty cuisine. What kind of celebration would this be if Seattle’s best restaurants and food vendors didn’t serve you all kinds of sweet and savory goodness? The food is a representation of all cultures, with three food courts serving Asian, American, African, Latin, European, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern fare, as well as desserts and sweets to satisfy your sweet tooth. A stand-out dessert to look forward to? Liquid Nitrogen Puffs and Dragon’s Breath by Three Twenty Below: a frozen, airy snack that eludes a smoke-like effect when you bite into it. Explore the full list of vendors and restaurants along University Way by clicking here.
Sing and dance to live performances. Various entertainers will play music to delight the ears of all attendees, ranging from R&B and funk to progressive bluegrass and jazz. Whether you prefer to sit and listen or get your groove on, this year’s musical lineup has something for everyone. And don’t forget to engage with the fabulous street performers! Click here to see the full list and times of all of The MetroPCS Stage performers.
Drink from the local watering holes. Sit outside at the Beer Garden on University Avenue at 41st Street and imbibe in a local microbrew. The Beer Garden is provided by Big Time Brewery, which means only the best ales will be on tap, including their standard brews: Prime Time Pale Ale, Atlas Amber Ale, Coal Creek Porter, and Bhagwan’s Best IPA.
Shop your heart out. The University District StreetFair was initially conceived as an open-air festival where craftspeople could sell their wares, and that aspect hasn’t changed a bit since 1970. More than 140 artists, craftspeople, designers, jewelers, makers, and builders will join in the celebration. But keep an eye out for Michael Loeffler of The Hatterdashery. He’s a 41-year veteran of the StreetFair and will be selling custom-designed, handmade hats using only the finest wools, linens, velvets, leathers, cotton, and denim. Get a matching bowtie from durian & the Lyon or a handmade wooden watch from Mistura Timepieces. Want to see a full list of vendors? Click here.
Entertain the children. The StreetFair will provide tons of family-friendly activities throughout the weekend at The Kids’ Area, hosted by the local University YMCA and the Rotary Club of the University District. Bring your kids over for expressive art projects with Artist & Craftsman Supply, a bounce-house, creative bubble-want making, and A Living Canvas Face Painting will be there to transform your kid into a tiger, flower, or majestic unicorn.
The city is constantly growing and changing, so now more than ever it’s important to support the local businesses that give Seattle its soul. To learn more about The 49th annual University District StreetFair and plan your experience, visit www.udistrictstreetfair.org.