Williamsburg’s community-driven arts festival in the streets, 2nd Sundays, will mark a milestone in June: 10 years of artists and artisans on Prince George Street.
On Sunday, the opening day of 2019, hundreds of people milled about the stalls looking for paintings, pottery, pastries, knick-knacks and a good time.
With small tweaks every year, the monthly festival has brought thousands of people to the heart of downtown Williamsburg. And this year, there’s more street food and interactive musical performances, according to festival organizer Shirley Vermillion.
“We’re focusing on musicians you won’t regularly hear in Williamsburg,” Vermillion said.
The festival will remain as “unique, unusual and original” as it always has been, Vermillion said, but with more opportunities for people to sit down and play in a drum circle, watch dancers, drink fresh coffee and munch on food they would rarely cook at home.
The festival is dependent on good weather, CultureFix co-founder Steve Rose said. His organization aims to improve local cultural offerings in the Historic Triangle.
When bad weather hits the festival sees fewer patrons and residents. But on Sunday, it was a balmy 70 degrees.
When the sun stays out and the air is warm, it’s a boon to local businesses, according to Ralph Youngs, owner of the Merchants Square Baskin Robbins.
2nd Sundays also helps local artisans James and Paige Ewell promote their homegrown products. The husband and wife team bring their goat milk soaps, lip balms and other goods from their farm in the Five Forks area of James City County.
The pair fell into farming by accident, they said: They bought chickens and then James Ewell bought Paige a couple of goats.
“We wanted to live off the land,” James Ewell said. “But it’s turned more into a business.”
The Ewells have sold their wares at 2nd Sundays for three of the four years they’ve farmed. They said they try and make customers’ visits special. For opening day, they brought a 4-day-old goat named Pretzel for patrons to see.
But the event isn’t all about home goods and art, Vermillion said, it’s about experiences people will remember and tell their friends and family about.
Williamsburg-native Daniel Scruggs taught passers-by how to play drums in a large drum circle. Other musical acts played well-known anthems or told their own stories in verse.
Subtle changes have brought the event closer to how it was originally envisioned, Vermillion said. Last season, organizers worked to bring more food options to Prince George Street patrons.
As fragrant curry and other spices wafted over Prince George Street, Amber Ox Public House chef Troy Buckley said he wants to invite people to try refreshing, heartening and approachable dishes they probably wouldn’t make at home. He stirred a pot of boiled shrimp and andouille sausage as folks wandered up to ask him what he was cooking.
Buckley said the spontaneity of the event lends itself to no set menu. Simply put, “as the seasons change, the food will change,” Buckley said.
In the future, Vermillion said she hopes the festival will be able to feature a regular tent for patrons to come and make art themselves. In the meantime, the festival is growing all the time, she said.
Want to go?
The next 2nd Sunday Arts & Music festival will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 14.
Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.