Taking it to the streets

On September 21, 2012, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

By Joseph A. Curtatone

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)

As a kid growing up in Somerville, as a candidate going door to door to talk to voters, and as a runner (usually pretty late at night or very early in the morning), I have always enjoyed spending time out on Somerville’s streets. We pack a lot of variety, diversity and activity into our 4.1 square miles. There is always a lot to see.

But nowadays, the streets of Somerville are more lively and attractive than at any time I can remember. In addition to the traditional events that have brought our community out in the past – the Memorial Day Parade and the Independence Day Fireworks extravaganza come to mind – Somerville now boasts a whole new generation of eclectic and very enjoyable street festivals.

It seems like almost every weekend from May to October, there’s something worth doing outside, usually with great music and food as part of the agenda. When it comes to outdoor festivals, Somerville is a small city with a huge footprint.

This past weekend, three big outdoor events enlivened the Somerville scene. On Saturday, Sept. 15, the 5th Annual Riverfest at Assembly Row offered eight hours of music, fun, food, and classic cars along the Mystic River followed by a first-rate fireworks show. Those of you who, like me, are excited by the prospect of more food trucks in Somerville should take note: Riverfest attracted seven high-end food trucks serving everything from lobster to crepes, and the enthusiastic response proved that there’s a real market for mobile cuisine in our city.

Later that evening, and into the small hours of the morning, ArtsUnion, the Somerville Arts Council and SCUL hosted the joyous and exotic MUM (Meet Under McGrath) 2012.  SCUL – a friendly bicycle gang that describes itself as “an anti-elite band of pilots testing out experimental ships, exploring the Greater Boston star systems and occasionally other galaxies,” or more succinctly, “an organized battalion of funk,” played a leading role in promoting this year’s theme: “SPACE.” Dancing, art installations, and a custom sound and light show all combined to make MUM 2012 a memorable, high-energy explosion of creativity and fun.

Finally, on Sunday at Trum Field, an equally successful DogFest 2012 rounded out the weekend menu.  For the third year in a row, dogs (leashed) and their owners gathered for a day of dog sports demonstrations, dog fashion, and paws-on activities and contests.  All proceeds went to support the Somerville Foundation for Animals, which raises funds for companion animal-related issues. As the organizers explain, the goal of the event is “to educate the public and promote healthy, happy pet ownership and activities, thereby lowering the need for relinquishment and euthanasia of animals due to behavior problems.”  It was a serious cause but a light-hearted event.

So why am I devoting a whole column to outdoor activities that have already taken place?  Why would I tell you about enjoyable events that you’ve already missed?  Those are two very good questions, and I’m pleased to report that I have two very good answers:

First, all three events are scheduled to return in some form next year, so mark your calendars now.  These festivals are getting bigger and better with each passing year, and are becoming part of the fabric of life in Somerville.

Second, the season of outdoor celebrations is far from over, and if you missed these three events  – or the SomerStreets Festivals and ArtBeat over the summer or the PorchFest music festival in the spring – then it’s important for you to know that you still have multiple chances to celebrate life in the streets of Somerville before the winter comes.

It’s not too late to turn out for the spectacular East Somerville Foodie Crawl sponsored by East Somerville Main Streets. Originally scheduled for September 18, it’s been moved to its rain date, September 25. And last time I checked, tickets were still available, although they sold out last year, so you should sign up now at eastsomervillemainstreets.org/foodiecrawl.htm.  Their tagline says it all:

“12 restaurants! 5 continents! 3 dessert after-parties!” You can’t beat it.

It’s also not too late to take part in one of Somerville’s best-known and most popular street fairs, Union Square’s inimitable “What the Fluff.” WTF celebrates the creative spirit of our community by honoring (if that’s the right word) Somerville’s own Archibald Query, who invented Marshmallow Fluff in 1917.  A co-production of Union Square Main Streets, ArtsUnion, and the Somerville Arts Council with funding by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the City of Somerville, the festival – like Fluff itself – is sweet, sticky fun for all ages. The party starts at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29 (rain date is Sept. 30), and is well worth your time.

And you can also look forward to two (that’s right, TWO) rollicking Oktoberfests. The first is on Sunday, September 30, from noon to 6 p.m. in the heart of Davis Square. The second, which is also our final SomerStreets event of the year, is on Sunday, October 28, from noon to 4 p.m. and will be held along Somerville Avenue between Union and Porter Square.

You can find out more about all these events by calling the City’s 311 Constituent Service Line (617-666-3311 from outside the city).  And you should: Somerville’s taking the party to the streets and your presence is requested.


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