Adams Morgan Day hopes to once again close 18th Street

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Adams Morgan Day is an annual festival in the 18th Street corridor. (photo by Lindsay Hogan/Songbyrd Music House)

For the first time in three years, Adams Morgan Day is planning a return to its roots as a true street festival, with organizers launching a crowdfunding campaign to finance the closing of part of 18th Street NW.

Taking place on Sunday, Sept. 10, the event will bring together community members and local businesses for a day of outdoor fun. The envisioned street closure would extend along 18th Street between Kalorama and Columbia roads NW.

For many years, Adams Morgan Day was run by the Adams Morgan Main Street community group, and the street was always closed to accommodate the festivities. But the group racked up thousands of dollars in debts to the city, and thus couldn’t secure a permit for the 2015 day.

Community volunteers then took over, putting together a small festival on short notice.

Adams Morgan Day, shown here in 2016, is looking to celebrate its 39th year this fall. (photo by Lindsay Hogan/Songbyrd Music House)

“That first year was a cheaper budget. We paid for balloons and a couple of posters; it was really tight,” said community volunteer Kara Davis. “But last year we got some more sponsors and worked with the city to permit it. We stuck with sidewalks because our understanding is that it costs quite a lot of money to shut the street down.”

After last year’s festival, organizers put out a survey, asking residents to indicate their preferences and share their ideas.

“We offered a few options to see what people preferred: not closing the street down; closing down part of Columbia Road; closing 18th to Florida; closing a limited stretch of 18th Street; or closing of a side street,” Davis told The Current. “We had a lot of scenarios. Closing down that top section of 18th Street was way more popular than anything else.”

The cost of the festival with the 18th Street closure is around $100,000, according to one of the primary coordinators, David Smith. Costs include rerouting public buses, parking meter fees, securing police officers for the event and insurance payments.

To raise the money, organizers have set up an online crowdfunding page using a platform called Ioby, available via tinyurl.com/Adams-Morgan-ioby.

“Closing down the street brings us the ability to have vendors that pay for booths, so that will defray some of the costs,” Davis said. “On the ioby site right now there are a lot of vendors who have committed in the full amount, but they have paid only a deposit so far. That will help us gauge.”

As of last week, there were 10 fully committed vendors, five that had expressed intent, and more who had expressed some interest, according to Smith.

Adams Morgan Day historically closed a portion of 18th Street NW, though 2016’s event stayed on the sidewalks. (photo by Lindsay Hogan/Songbyrd Music House)

“Sponsorship is low, and vendors are trickling in,” Smith said. “We’re doing our best to get the word out by engaging local newspapers. We also have, on our website, ways that vendors and sponsors can donate and contribute to the event.”

Smith has no doubt that the campaign will be successful and the street will close.

Davis said that because all of the organizing is done by volunteers, “the planning always kicks into gear a little later than it should. This is always the crazy everything-coming-together month.”

“But,” she said, “I really think that it will feel more like a street festival again. Having traffic going through splits things up a little bit. Having people out in the street will be a return to normal as far as Adams Morgan Day goes.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Ioby page had raised $4,125, which does not include the full payout from committed vendors or money from those who have expressed intent.