An outdoor block party in the Pine Hills area of Albany sets itself apart with its family-friendly vibe and activities for kids and adults.
• What: The upper Madison Street Fair
• When: Sunday, Sept. 21, from noon until 5 p.m.
• Where: Madison Avenue, between South Allen and West Lawrence streets
• How much: Free
• Info: www.uppermadison.org
The Upper Madison Street Fair, which takes place Sunday, Sept. 21, from noon to 5 p.m., will feature concerts, a kids activity zone, a food court, and more than 60 vendors selling arts and crafts. The western end of Madison Avenue will be closed to traffic between South Allen and West Lawrence streets so people can safely enjoy the afternoon.
The fair has evolved over the years. It started out as a “Taste of Madison” event that mostly highlighted area restaurants.
“We started doing the street fair years ago to promote the restaurants, which wasn’t as easy as one would hope. Everyone saw that it had great potential, but at Steamer 10, there were only one or two of us doing it, and it was a lot of work,” said Rick Chesser executive director of Steamer No. 10, a nonprofit theater that produces shows for children and families.
The theater, an anchor of the Pine Hills community, is built in an old firehouse, with a name that pays homage to that history.
After cleaning up after one of the last Taste of Madison events, Chesser and some members of the Beautify Upper Madison Project (BUMP) got together and decided that with more people sharing the project, they would be able to make improvements. Those discussions led to the current version of the celebration — the Upper Madison Street Fair. Now in the fifth year, the street fair is never quite the same two years in a row.
“The great thing about the street fair is that it changes a little every year with more than 60 vendors, lots of food, music and different items to check out,” said Anne Savage, publications relations’ representative for BUMP.
Among the new things offered this year is an actual area for fairgoers to sit down and eat.
“We’re very excited that this year there will be a real food court so people can get food and sit down instead of having to eat while walking around,” said Savage.
There will also be a special Kid’s Zone in the green space near the police station. While there will be things throughout the fair that kids can enjoy, they will also have their own area.
The bands performing at the fair are all family friendly, but there will also be special concerts just for the kids. Also on hand will be Let’s Drum, run by John Duda, who brings the instruments and lets the kids play games and learn about rhythm.
There will also be a CDTA bus for kids to explore. There will games, tattoos for kids, bean bag tosses, hula-hoops and more, with plenty of volunteers on hand.
The main idea of the event is to get people out to enjoy the area.
“We want to have people realize what a great neighborhood this is and raise money for the things we do throughout the year. … We are not funded by anyone, and we are self-motivated and self-supporting. We just like the neighborhood and want everyone to know how great it is.” Said Virginia Hammer, BUMP committee member.
For more information on the vendors, sponsors, activities and musical performances, visit www.uppermadison.org.