Community event celebrates 40 years of Eastown

GVL / Channon Cummings
2013 Eastown Streetfair

GVL / Channon Cummings 2013 Eastown Streetfair

Chanon Cummings

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Eastown filled up its streets on Sep. 14 for the 2013 Eastown StreetFair.

Formed in 1973, the Eastown Community Association came together to create a better community
with the help of a professor from Aquinas College and the philanthropy organization Kellogg
Foundation. The first event that was put on by the association was the StreetFair.

Evolving as the years have gone on, the StreetFair in the 1970s was more of a “free for all” with bikers
lining the streets, bands and beer tents. Today, the StreetFair has become a much more organized
event with rules and regulations.

Eastown Special Events chair Pamela Goderski has been in charge of the StreetFair event for three
years. Starting the planning in February, she takes care of city permits, licensing, road closures,
dumpsters, stages and many other things needed in order to make the event run smoothly.

Vendors must turn in their applications by Sept. 6 in order to secure a spot in the event, and this year,
there was a waiting list of 30 extra vendors by Aug. 22.

Goderski said the spots are filling up faster than ever, and while the event cannot include all
interested vendors, its popularity is a positive indicator.

“From an organizational standpoint, we have the luxury of being able to be a little more discriminate
on who we have in,” she said.

This year, 100 vendors lined Wealthy Street and the hub lot, selling, informing and turning the
StreetFair into an experience.

Non-profit organizations made up 20 percent of vendors this year and were offered booth space at
half price, Goderski said. These vendors included Grace’s Greyhound Rescue, Red Project, Planned
Parenthood, church organizations and political candidates.

“It’s a lot of everything,” Goderski said.

Along with vendors lining the streets, 15 bands performed all day—a majority of which were Grand
Rapids natives.

“We don’t pay the bands to perform,” Goderski said. “They come here and they do it for the exposure.
They like the events, it’s fun to do.”

Flashing Blue Lights band member Jason Roy said it’s nice to be a part of a community event.

“It’s free entertainment for people to come see,” Roy said. “My four-year-old neighbor is coming to
watch us perform. You can’t say often that a four-year-old is coming to watch a band performance.”

Between the bands’ performances, local politicians, radio hosts and television personalities came on
stage to speak. A special appearance was made by Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, who
introduced the third annual Yesterdog Eastown Dog Down and celebrated the StreetFair’s anniversary
with the community.

“This history is a wonderful history,” he said. “I’m delighted to see the streets packed again this year.”

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