Jul 27, 2014
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Photos: Arts Fest Draws Crowds to Hyattsville

Thousands descend on Jefferston Street for celebration of local art community.

Stuart Eisenberg was a man operating on fumes, though you wouldn't know it from the beaming smile plastered across his face for much of the day. 

After going to sleep at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, he woke up only four hours later at 4:30 a.m. to supervise the setup of the Jefferson Street corridor in the Hyattsville Arts District to set up for this year's Hyattsville Arts Festival. 

This is the fifth year of the festival, but it is only the first year that the Hyattsville Community Development Coporation has been in charge of it. As such, there was something of a small learning curve for Eisenburg, executive director of the Hyattsville CDC, as the event setup was progressing. 

"These things will never go glitch free," said Stewart as he sat at the Hyattsville CDC booth. "That's just the way things are."

But attendees at the festival either didn't notice whatever glitch Stewart would only refer to in vague terms or didn't care. The festival, for the vast majority of participants, went off without a hitch. 

"It's gone pretty well," said Adams-Morgan photographer Jon Barrows from the shade of his booth in front of Busboys and Poets' Howard Zinn Room facade. "Anytime you are able to get your booth fee back is a great day."

Barrows' sales throughout the day remained steady. He said he tries to bring a wide range of work at various price levels. In this way, almost anyone who takes an interest in his work likely has enough money on hand to purchase something from him. 

"As much as you can, diversity so you can meet different price brackets," said Barrows, who heard about the festival on an email discussion list. 

Barrows' reason for registering for a booth for the festival?

"It's close," said Barrows. "I heard about how this area has been developing and changing and I wanted to check it out."

For Eisenberg, that sentiment would likely have made him happy. This whole festival, in his eyes, is about maintaining and boosting Hyattsville's reputation as a developing arts community. 

"First off, we have to represent," said Eisenberg bluntly. And represent he did. By 2:30 p.m., roughly 1,800 people had visited the festival, not too far off of last year's full-day attendance of an estimated 2,500.

But there's a secondary motive for the festival, too, for Eisenberg; the opportunity to have the next generation of artists interact with working artists. 

"People bring kids here, and they interact directly with the artists," said Eisenberg. "They know that, hey, there are people who do this for a living and they think 'I can do this too.'"

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