by Niesha Kennedy
What a beautiful day with more than 20 arts, cultural, and community partners contributing to provide a fun day for over 2,300 attendees of all ages in West Fairmount Park. This annual free public event created by West Park Cultural Center (WPCC) in 2008, moved into the park two years ago with Fairmount Park Conservancy joining WPCC as a presenter. This year Mural Arts Philadelphia also came on board.
The West Park Arts Fest brings communities together in the park and promotes greater awareness of the area’s history and heritage, all while celebrating the arts and cultural diversity of Philadelphia. On June 9, 2018, the 11th West Park Arts Fest took place on South Concourse Drive adjacent to the Centennial Commons along Parkside Avenue. Centennial Commons, a “new park within a park” is the project of Fairmount Park Conservancy as part of Philadelphia’s Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative.
There was something for everyone!
Live music performances by the West Philadelphia Orchestra, always a crowd favorite. Patrice and The Show gave us some R&B flavor and got the crowd to their feet, dancing and singing along. West Park Arts Fest veteran performers, Badd Kitti and Gretchen Elise Music rocked the stage with their upbeat performances. And that was just the music stage.
At the other end of the festival attendees enjoyed performances on the dance stage by Sam Watson, who performed the history of dance, starting with jazz and culminating with recent hip hop. The Philly Clicks tap-danced their way around the stage keeping the crowd excited. Penn Chinese Dance Club is always a visually appealing, cultural performance. The teen girls of West Park Cultural Center’s dancelogic program, performed after completing Saturday classes that combined dance and coding. Festival-goers shopped the Handmade Marketplace with artwork, handcraftedjewelry, clothing, ceramics, children’s books, pet gear and much more. Food vendors were a hit, from Korean Fried Chicken with Slurp Philly to water ice, pretzels and ice cream to keep cool with Cold Pink Treats.
Activities for kids of all ages, young and old included art making, robots from the Franklin Institute, storytelling, face painting, make and takes, interactives with the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, Philadelphia Zoo and many more. Attendees hopped aboard and enjoyed the West Park Arts Fest, free narrated trolley tours of the Fairmount Park Centennial District. Kathy Lee and Ed Miller of the Fairmount Park Conservancy shared the history of the area going back to the World’s Fair in 1876 as well as information about the cultural and natural resources that are currently available in West Fairmount Park.