Rain or shine, Adams Morgan Day Festival showcases art, food, and history

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Several Washingtonians gathered on Sunday to attend the Adams Morgan Day Festival. Photo courtesy of Amanda Menas.
Several Washingtonians gathered on Sunday to attend the Adams Morgan Day Festival. Photo courtesy of Amanda Menas.

By Amanda Menas

Volunteers and community members celebrated the history of their shared neighborhood today at the 40th anniversary Adams Morgan Day Festival.

A.Tianna Scozzaro, one of the organizers who volunteered to lead the festival for the last four years, said that regardless of less-than-ideal weather, both vendors and attendees were in high spirits. As the weather improved throughout the day, the afternoon ended with large crowds dancing to the headliner Trouble Funk, also celebrating its 40th anniversary.

“We are very intentional about picking our vendors and artists,” said Scozzaro. The core group of volunteers exclusively invites internal food vendors local to Adams Morgan to showcase the neighborhood to the outside world. The committee was able to dedicate an entire alley to local artists as well, the space overlooked by a mural from Aniekan Udofia.

Fellow commissioners of Scozzaro’s from the ANC1c also were at the event. Ted Guthrie, the commissioner for ANC1C03, said that this year the festival continued to improve on the tradition of focusing on the community itself. He even excused the weather as a blessing in disguise. Despite the rain, the dancers put on a great show. 

“With fewer people you see more faces,” said Guthrie. The important takeaway he had on the event was the ability to deepen relationships between neighbors who live in Adams Morgan, revisit friends who might have moved to other parts of D.C., and share with them the art, food, and history present in the neighborhood.

The best way the festival embodied that mission was in the form of the Humanities Truck. Along with the DC Public Libraries and the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, Dan Kerr of American University showcased his mobile exhibition space for the first time. “We are helping build collaboration with community groups,” Kerr said.

His three main goals for the truck were to create a place for community documentation, a community workshop, and a community exhibition space.

While the truck was used to showcase the photography of Nancy Shia, a local activist and artist who has captured the Adams Morgan Day Festival since it began, the wooden walls, non-slide floors, and magnetic exterior make it a versatile project.

Moreover, the street-facing side of the truck featured a piece by a former student of Kerr’s from American University. This embraces the structure of D.C. streets while shaping them to look like veins in a body as the truck becomes a way of circulating the humanities throughout the city.

More of Shia’s work can be seen at the Anacostia Community Museum in the current exhibition titled, “A Right to the City.”

Between the juggler who continued his act through the rain, to the performers on both stages, to the hundreds of young families in attendance, the festival successfully highlighted the history, diversity, and resilience of Adams Morgan residents. Planning for the 2019 event will begin in four months.