by Patheresa Wells
Beacon Arts is a volunteer-run neighborhood arts council that works to build community in Beacon Hill through programs, arts opportunities, and events, as well as a monthly street fair. Every second Saturday from April through September, the fair provides an outdoor safe space for neighbors to reunite and connect after sheltering in place for so long. Each monthly event has a theme and includes art and food vendors, live music, entertainment, community information, and a garden share!
This month’s street fair theme is Indigenous Peoples Market, focusing on Indigenous goods. The fair takes place on May 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Roberto Maestas Festival Street, between the light rail station and The Station café. Beacon Arts Stage will also feature Indigenous performers, dancers, musicians, and storytellers.
Betty Jean Williamson, president of Beacon Arts, says the street fairs “are the culmination of 12 years of activating public space on Beacon Hill.”
The fair includes cooperation from numerous area organizations and businesses, including El Centro de la Raza, South End Public Market, and many others committed to providing what Williamson says are “free and inclusive events for and by our community.”
Hosted by the Beacon Hill Garden Club, the garden share takes place on the parking strip of 16th Avenue South, right outside The Station coffee shop. Club members help with distributing free seeds and plants that are culturally relevant to the Beacon Hill community.
Roberta Russell, who manages and stocks the club’s seed library, helps run the garden share. Russell says they offer “a wide mix of plants, including many flowers, vegetables, herbs, house plants, and supplies, like soil, pots, and books.” Folks can bring their extras and take what they need. Volunteers like Russell also help provide guidance for gardening and food propagation. Master Gardeners will be at the garden share to help troubleshoot questions around planting and growing.
The street fair offers a chance for many BIPOC-owned small businesses to reach new customers, without the obstacles that come with obtaining a brick-and-mortar location. For example, Lisette Bustamante of Cafecito Mexican Bakery has only offered Mexican pastries to the public for a few months. As a brand-new business, Bustamante says the fair allows her to “shine a spotlight into Mexican pastries. There’s not many Mexican pastries being brought out. There’s a lot of French and Asian, and I just feel like there’s just a huge need for it,” she said. “I think a lot of people don’t know about it. And so I’m here to bring it out.”
Bustamante is proud to offer cakes, cookies, pastries, and coffees for those seeking authentic Mexican baked goods.
Fair vendor Laura Bautista offers a variety of colorful earthenware from Guadalajara, Mexico, in her shop Artesanias De Barro La Mexicana, including everything from cups and mugs to rice cookers. Her pop-up shop is a family affair that she runs with her brother-in-law.
Throughout the fair are numerous vendors like Bustamante and Bautista, but also the streets are lined with neighbors enjoying themselves as they move through the booths. People walk their dogs, children ride bikes, and couples stroll hand in hand while enjoying their neighborhood. They stop to chitchat, smile, or dance along to the music filling the air.
Each monthly street fair has a theme. Last month’s appropriately named theme, April Showers, focused on spring, with an Easter bunny walking the premises for pictures.
The schedule of performances for May 14 will run as:
- 11 a.m.: Haan Dei Ijin, Tlingit Dance Group from Sealaska Heritage group
- 1 p.m.: Paul Chiyokten Wagner, Coast Salish storyteller/singer (Duwamish spokesman)
- 1:30 p.m.: Juan Salinas Family, Aztec dancing and music with Ixtli White Hawk
- 3 p.m.: Ryan Yellowjohn, champion hoop dancer, Shoshone/Bannack/Quechan
- 3:30 p.m.: Peter Ali, Native flute and songs
Upcoming street fair dates are: May 14, June 11, July 9, Aug. 13, Sept. 10; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Roberto Maestas Festival Street.
Patheresa Wells is a Queer poet, writer, and storyteller who lives in SeaTac, Washington. Born to a Black mother and Persian father, her experiences as a multicultural child shaped her desire to advocate for and amplify her community. She currently attends Highline College in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter @PatheresaWells.
📸 Featured Image: Beacon Arts street fair visitors check out Laura Bautista’s earthenware at her shop Artesanias De Barro La Mexicana. (Photo: Patheresa Wells)
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