By Cathleen Twardzik
The 6th annual What the Fluff? A Tribute to Union Square Invention is coming to Somerville. Specifically, Union Square Plaza in Somerville, where Prospect Street, Washington Street, and Somerville Avenue meet, will be utilized for the event.
On September 24, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., local artists, musicians, theatrical performers, inventors, and humorists will pay tribute to the creation of this great American foodstuff. A rain date of September 25 has been set.
The festival honors Fluff creator, Archibald Query, who invented the sticky spread in Union Square in 1917.
The expected 10,000 festival attendees will consume fluffernutter sandwiches, whoopie pies, and other fluff-filled treats from local vendors, view performances by local groups, and play fluff games. Traffic will be re-routed around Union Square to accommodate the festival’s activities.
Along with a performance and games stage, there will be free activities for all ages, as well as a plethora of fluff food to try.
The performance stage will feature a headline musical performance by Booty Vortex with funk by the band Columbus.
If cooking piques your interest, then whip up an original recipe that uses Fluff, or present your best interpretation of a classic. The judges include Astronaut Rick Linnehan, who brought a fluffernutter along when he served at the International Space Station, and State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein (D-Revere), who sponsored the bill which made the fluffernutter the state sandwich.
The cooking contest grand prize winner will get a tour of the Durkee Mower Fluff factory, as well as a one-of-a-kind trophy and gift certificates to local businesses.
A contest to select the new Pharaoh of Fluff will be held. Candidates will be called upon to perform their Fluff-inspired rewriting of the song September. The winner will be crowned by last year’s Pharaoh, with a special creation by CostumeWorks, which is the Union Square business that provides wacky outfits for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.
The theme for this year’s festival is the 1970’s, the time at which many individuals feel that Fluff may have reached new heights. So wear your finest ’70s clothing to be picked as best dressed. Allee Willis will be the fashion judge.
Willis is a Grammy, Emmy, Tony, and Webbie award-winning and nominated songwriter. Her hit songs include Earth, Wind & Fire’s September, and her first musical, the Oprah Winfrey-produced The Color Purple was a Broadway hit. Marshmallow Fluff is held in special regard at The Allee Willis Museum of Kitsch.
Fluff games have their own stage. Games include: Fluff Lick-Off, Blind Man’s Fluff, Fluffer or Nutter Relay and Fluff Hair Dos.
“Everyone has their personal favorites [different festival activities]. The cooking contest is popular. Games on the Shenanigans stage like the Fluff Hair Dos and Lick-Off always get a lot of attention. I’ve got a particular fondness for the Fluff Bowling and Fortune Fishing,” said Mimi Graney, Executive Director of Union Square Main Streets.
“We’ve got The Donkey Show performing, and for the first time will have a fluffernutter relay. The Boston Derby Dames will do the relay on roller skates and festival participants can give it a try on hippity-hops. Over on the Shenanigans Stage, for the first time ever, we’re doing Fluff Jousting,” she said.
Additionally, there will be Fluff-inspired cocktails at local bars, throughout Union Square. A range of musical and theatrical performers will entertain the fluff-infused crowd.
On September 16, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., a Fluff shopping night at Great Eastern Trading Company in Central Square, Cambridge whetted people’s Fluff appetite just in time for the upcoming festival.
Wicked Good Travel & Activities, which is a local blog that celebrates fun happenings, is holding its first giveaway contest in partnership with Union Square Main Street’s Fluff Festival. Leave a comment on the blog that explains why you love Fluff. Make sure to be creative.
The individuals who are in charge of the event are looking for unique recipes, short prose (five sentences or fewer), poems and vlogs, which are short videos five minutes or fewer that are uploaded on YouTube, such as making a recipe or a video montage, all of which should proclaim your love for Fluff.
Each winner will be featured on Wicked Good Travel & Activities, Somerville Patch, and Union Square Main Streets. One winner will receive a free tote bag.
The night prior to the festival, on September 23, a special VIP reception at Bloc 11 will occur where you can see the Fluff-themed exhibit of work by Susan Olsen (the actress who played Cindy Brady on The Brady Bunch) and local artists Maris Wicks, Liz Prince, Joe Quinones and Suzanne Lubeck.
Refreshments will be served by Smuttynose Brewery and Bloc 11, and DJ Roy Van will spin vintage vinyl. The night will be sponsored by Smuttynose Brewery. The only way to get tickets for this VIP event is via the Fluff Festival Kickstarter page.
Mid-month at Sherman Café, the Museum of Bad Art presents selections from their collection.
The Somerville Arts Council’s ArtsUnion Project is an initiative which was designed to boost the cultural and economic development of Union Square. Arts Union presents numerous events and markets and also leads cultural tours.
What the Fluff? is being presented by Union Square Main Streets and is being sponsored by The Somerville Arts Council’s ArtsUnion, along with funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the City of Somerville, among others.
If you live in Somerville or will be visiting the area, get ready to get your fill of Fluff at a festival in its honor.