Good times for a good cause

2nd Street Festival to raise funds for proposed Business Improvement District in Northern Liberties

A belly dancers troupe gets the crowd involved during last year’s 2nd Street Festival. PHOTO COURTESY OF KRISTINE KENNEDY

By Melissa Komar

The stretch of Second Street between Green Street and Germantown Avenue in Northern Liberties will be transformed into a public party next weekend, and some of that fun will translate to improvements to the area.
The 2nd Street Festival will take over the street for the ninth consecutive year on Sunday, Aug. 6, and some funds raised from the event will go toward funding the proposed Business Improvement District, a plan that was developed by business and property owners within the last couple of years, according to festival producer Kristine Kennedy.
Local business owners William Reed (Standard Tap), Oron Daskal (North Bowl), Owen Kamihira (El Camino Real), are the founders of the massive block party and, along with other business and property owners in the neighborhood, came up with the idea to create a Business Improvement District to find ways to best utilize the Second Street commercial corridor and make improvements to it.
Business owners, property owners, residents, shoppers, diners, visitors and people who work in the proposed district area were asked to complete a district needs survey assessment by the BID steering committee in late spring “to get a sense of what the most pressing things were to them if we were to get this improvement district,” Kennedy said.
Improvements identified by the survey included sidewalk repair, redesign of Second Street, parking, lighting, trash removal and sidewalk sweeping.
“Part of the money, too, will go toward marketing the neighborhood and making people remember and be aware that Northern Liberties is a great place to go eat and go shopping,” Kennedy said.
The BID becomes an entity through legislation that must be passed by City Council, followed by an open debate period and final vote. The hope is to have the BID passed by City Council and up and running by this winter or summer 2018, according to Kennedy.
In the meantime, funds from the festival will be put aside for the future.
The festival receives a grant from the Penn Treaty Special Services District to help offset costs and vendors and sponsors pay a fee to participate, which will help fund the BID.
Pulling off the massive festival is no easy feat.
Kennedy starts working on plans for the event in January and continues with behind-the-scenes organizing up to the day of the event until midnight.
“Between sponsors, food vendors and arts and crafts vendors, it’s close to 250 vendors, and we have nine beer gardens and two other bars that participate, and there are 27 bands booked for the stage in The Piazza,” she said.
Highlights for this year’s festival include Spinto Band headlining the event and Street Spot at Popular Street dedicated to street performers including a magician, a stilt-walker, a belly-dancing troupe and hula hoopers.
And while the festival grows each year, the goal is still the same.
“It’s really about the community and highlighting Northern Liberties and bringing more people to the neighborhood and that commercial corridor to experience it in a fun and engaging way and hopefully, they’ll want to come back,” Kennedy said.
The 2nd Street Festival will take place on Sunday, Aug. 6, from noon to 10 p.m. Entrance is free and the event is all ages. Cost for vendor items varies. Guests must be 21 or older to enter the beer gardens. Parking is limited. Lyft will offer a discount for transportation. For more details, visit 2ndstfestival.org.
The Northern Liberties BID Steering Committee meets monthly at the NLNA office, 700 N. Third St. The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 9, at 7 p.m. at the Schmidt’s Commons Leasing Office, 1001 N. Second St., №21. For more details on the Northern Liberties BID, visit explorenorthernliberties.org.