For any city, the annual summer festival is an event to anticipate. It’s a sun-drenched gathering with all the fixings of a great party: music, dancing, funnel cakes, snow cones, local art, local food and lots and lots of your neighbors, from near and far. So when Adams Morgan Day—the longest running DC street festival, now in its 37th year, and regularly drawing tens of thousands of people—was threatened this year, you could hear the community’s collective gasp.
As is so often the case with large-scale, neighborhood events, Adams Morgan Day has reportedly been plagued by debt—debt in the tens of thousands—and leadership problems within the organization that runs the event: Adams Morgan Main Street. Who knows what really went down—the organizers sited no reason for the event’s cancellation. But there was additional speculation that the organization’s leader, former D.C. Council candidate Marc Morgan, mishandled funds. This, in short, is the story of local DC politics.
The official pulling of the festival’s plug transpired rather quietly, with a short message on the Adams Morgan Day Facebook page on June 20th:
“It is with our deepest apologies that we must inform you all that there will not be an Adams Morgan Day Festival in 2015. Please be patient as we organize a new festival of fun and celebration of this diverse neighborhood. The fun will continue in 2016!”
Even though those involved claim that the event atmosphere had become difficult and toxic, people were heartbroken. Adams Morgan is a small neighborhood of colorful businesses and colorful people who’ve built a tight community. The idea that this long-running and beloved event would fall apart on their watch was, in the end, too much to swallow.
So local Adams Morgan businesses and residents started a grassroots effort to save Adams Morgan Day. And on July 25th, community members announced on Facebook that the festival would go on, though it would look a little different than usual. According to the announcement:
“We will bring the street to life by featuring local musicians, dancers, artists, crafts, children activities, historical walks, contests and more that showcase the best of Adams Morgan.“
Instead of closing off 18th Street, which requires expensive permits, the new organizers are looking to take advantage of existing public space, storefronts and patios. They’re also looking for volunteers: musicians in search of a platform; local shops willing to host events or provide a space for artists; historians who can lead walking tours; and others who are just willing to pitch in.
Visit the Adams Morgan Day Facebook page for more info and mark you calendars (again) for the festival, this year falling on September 13th from noon to 7:00pm.