By Jennifer Thompson
On September 23, The East Atlanta Strut, East Atlanta Village’s (EAV) annual neighborhood festival will be held for the 20th year. Starting at 11:00am and ending at 9:00pm, more than 10,000 people will converge on the Village for the popular neighborhood celebration, which includes great food and drink, live music on three stages throughout the day and night, a marching band competition, a kids’ zone, and a parade.
Last year’s parade featured around 650 participants and this year promises to be even better, with three great marching bands already lined up for both the parade and the competition. New this year is a mechanical bull; reference the film “Urban Cowboy” for inspiration and be sure to get a friend to film any rides for posterity. The Vintage Village is also making its first appearance in 2017, with a collection of booths specializing in a variety of retro items that are out-of-date, but timeless. And for the beer fans, this year’s Strut will feature beer from Creature Comforts Brewing, Pabst, and many other local brewers.
East Atlanta residents have long known what makes this neighborhood so special and the Strut exemplifies many of these reasons. The Village is known for being inclusive and more than 100 artists from EAV, the city of Atlanta, other Georgia cities and towns and other states as well, will be on hand to display and sell their works. East Atlanta welcomes both neighbors and visitors to the Strut with nearly every EAV business providing the Strut with financial backing or helping out, by hosting booths and providing food and beverage, enabling festivalgoers to stay in the heart of the action while eating and drinking.
Last, but not least, is the amount of community involvement each year for the Strut. The aforementioned 10,000 visitors, 100 vendors, the logistics of three stages and musical acts, parade management, security oversight, and schedules, are all managed entirely by volunteers, more than 200 in any given year. And the Strut is always looking for more.
On festival day, more than 100 volunteers are needed to serve as a wall for the parade and another 150 for all the other tasks, such as directions, act guidance, and trash management. And that does not include all the work needed before the actual day: fundraising, press, social media, and communications are just a few of the necessary tasks.
The Strut also has a Snapchat geofilter to attract the 43% of EAV residents who are millennials. Naturally there are also Facebook and Twitter accounts to spread the word. These all take volunteers and community spirit.
Once the bands have broken down, the parade is over, the booths are dismembered, and visitors have gone home, the real goal is reached. In 2016, Strut proceeds contributed nearly $20,000 to support a variety of neighborhood organizations. Examples include orchestra instruments and AP exam fees for local schools, murals by local artists for EAV walls that add much to the neighborhood’s ambience, and projects for longtime neighbors, including, Neighbor in Need, a nonprofit that helps senior and disabled EAV residents with emergency home repairs to keep residents safe in their homes with pride and dignity.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Strut, artist R.Land is doing this year’s T-shirt and is working on a mural in East Atlanta Village. Be sure to pick one up when coming out to celebrate this year’s Strut, East Atlanta Village’s iconic festival that, like the neighborhood it celebrates, is truly one of a kind.
To find out more about the Strut, to volunteer or sponsor, please see the website at www.eastatlantastrut.com, our Facebook page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.