A Day at the Eccentric H St Festival | The American Word

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A Day at the Eccentric H St Festival

Melissa Kelley | 10/5/15 1:17pm
| Updated 10/5/15 1:18pm

Melissa Kelley /

As one of the first festivals of the school year, the H Street Festival did not disappoint. The music, smell of sizzling food, and energy from the crowd greeted those entering the festival September 19th. It was exhilarating—also slightly claustrophobic and hot—but mostly exhilarating.

One of the most striking things about the festival was the hodge-podge of tents. With seemingly no logical organization, there was a tent selling vape pens next to a tent selling high end floppy hats, which was next to a tent selling yoga self-discovery books. This also meant that there was something for everyone, evenly dispersed throughout the festival. With a variety of music, food and other activities, it was easy to find something you are interested in or something you were not expecting.

The music was varied and vibrant. At one end of the festival, fast-paced reggae music played, while at the other end slow jazz was a constant, with drummers beating on garbage cans in between.

There was even a dance party to Michael Jackson music under a pink fluorescent disco ball. You could either enjoy the live concerts up close or just enjoy the pleasant background music.

Okay, but deep down inside we all know that food is essential to the festival experience. Are you in the mood for a good barbeque pulled pork sandwich? Well the H Street festival has you covered, my friend. With a seemingly endless amounts of pulled pork food trucks, you will definitely find a flavor you like by the end of the night. Also, Jamaican chicken and Gyros were popular food truck items. Another favorite was the classic vanilla ice cream cone, which perfectly captures the sticky, cool essence of summer. It’s impossible to try all of the food trucks, but the H Festival kind of makes you want to strap on a bib and go for it.

With all of the food options, vendors had to work to get the festival-goers’ attention. I didn’t expect how hard different companies would go in terms of advertising. You & Pizza had two cars in front of their store decked out in You & Pizza stickers and apparel. And they were giving out giant black inflatable balls. Imagine the “big balls” from Wipeout but black and with a logo. Those are what they were handing out to excited kids and their exasperated parents. Once you went inside You & Pizza, there was a DJ. I’m not sure exactly who they were trying to market their cool, black pizza aesthetic to, but it did attract a lot of people.

Other creative advertisements included receiving a free charger if you signed up for a Ford Car survey and a tip jar asking “Feeling Tipsy?” My favorite advertisement attempt was by Women Grow—Cultivating Cannabis Entrepreneurs in Washington, D.C. They offered free marijuana if I bought a T-shirt. I laughed skeptically and then the guy said, “No really!” and proceeded to give me a small pamphlet directing me how to sign up for medical marijuana. I felt like I was on an episode of Weeds but with food trucks and free T-shirts.

The art was eccentric and eclectic. There were tapestries, hand woven knit bowls and a variety of wooden sculptures and carvings. A lot of the art was based in African and African American tradition. The most interesting artist I saw demonstrated painting by dancing. With quick steps and intense flicks of the wrist, he transformed his once white canvas into a vibrant and abstract masterpiece.

An important side note: the selfie lighting was fabulous and people took advantage. If you’re ever looking for a new profile picture, try a festival in the evening, with the warm glow of sunset giving radiant vibes. Your Instagram followers will love your new aesthetic. People taking selfies, either by selfie stick or the old fashioned way, littered the crowd. Festivals are also the best place to people watch. Real human moments are easily spotted, from a couple in line demonstrating an intricate handshake, to the moment when a man chased a woman down a block to give her a credit card that she dropped. The generosity, friendliness and love of humans are revealed in the environment of great music, great art and great food!