Story by Zachary Avery, Editor-in-Chief
Photos courtesy of Zachary Avery
On Saturday, Sept. 10, the local Eastown and East Grand Rapids community gathered together along the brick paths of Wealthy and Lake for the return of a longstanding tradition in the neighborhood: the Eastown Community Association’s (ECA) “Eastown Street Fair.” After a virtual hosting in 2020 and a surprise cancellation in 2021 due to rising COVID-19 cases in Kent County, the ECA and their fans alike were excited to get back into the swing of things.
“The ECA has been doing this for so long, it really broke our hearts to not be able to come out and be with our neighbors for two years,” said Dakota Riehl-Davis, board president of ECA. “It’s just nice to see our neighbors again and also give our vendors another opportunity to come out and reconnect.”
From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., attendees browsed over 100 booths housing local makers, food vendors, regional artists and music acts. The beer-and-cider tent was a popular mid-afternoon activity, with representation from Michigan brewers like Short’s Brewing and Harmony Brewing Company. The latter is, of course, a famous Eastown mainstay through their decade-old pizzeria and bar right in the heart of the neighborhood. The former celebrated their 18th birthday just this year.
“These are our kind of people,” said Ben Darcie, southwest sales representative for Short’s Brewing Company. “Hang out, good food, local crafts, music: There’s nothing more Short’s than that.”
While the Eastown community has seen its fair share of changes in the past few years, including the loss of beloved knick-knack shop Eastown Antiques, it’s clear to see that the ECA continues to work toward a dream they’ve been envisioning for nearly 50 years: To foster a safe, diverse and walkable neighborhood for local Grand Rapidians and Aquinas College students alike. And through events like the Eastown Street Fair, June’s annual “Bizarre Bazaar” and many more, they are turning that age-old dream into a reality.
While this year’s Eastown Street Fair has come and gone, there are surely lots of exciting events to look forward to in the neighborhood. At Harmony Brewing Company, live music is played each Saturday night, and pop culture nerds can look forward to their trivia nights each and every Wednesday and Sunday. And if you wanted something closer to home (campus), the ECA’s Halloween Party in Wilcox Park on October 15 is another great event to look forward to.
There’s a lot to love about Eastown. Get out there and explore!