Exploring the Warehouse District: 10 Minutes With Marcia Mandell of the 8th Annual Warehouse District Street Festival

On Sunday, August 5, thousands of Northeast Ohioans will visit downtown Cleveland for the 8th Annual Warehouse District Street Festival, where people can enjoy fine food from neighborhood restaurants and clubs, hear terrific music, see and purchase art by local artists, enjoy a variety of activities, and explore the neighborhood.

This year’s Warehouse District Street Festival, one of many summer festivals funded in part by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, has something for everyone, from great music and food to an art show, a cutest dog contest and fashion show, neighborhood open houses, and more. We recently spoke with event coordinator Marcia Mandell about what’s happening at the festival this year.

What makes the Warehouse District Street Festival unique?
The warehouse district is a real neighborhood, and this festival showcases all aspects of this great neighborhood, all throughout the day. We see parents pushing strollers, empty nesters, people walking their dogs, and people from all walks of life. People living in the neighborhood attend the festival, and others come from all over - from Akron to Elyria, Westlake to Pepper Pike, Cleveland Heights to Bay Village – to see what the neighborhood has to offer.

Our objective is to bring people together from every walk of life, all ages and cultures, from all parts of Northeast Ohio. The district has restaurants, clubs, businesses, and a number of residential properties, thus making it a true downtown neighborhood.

This year, people can enjoy residential open houses, a great art show featuring local artists, all kinds of children’s activities, corn hole, and of course great music on two stages. We also like to make sure that the food offerings reflect the district – 99 percent of the food vendors are restaurants who operate in the neighborhood.
warehouse district street festival

One of the unique aspects of this festival is that it gives people an opportunity to experience downtown living. What do you have planned for this year?
We’ll have residential open houses where people can see some of the places where people live in the neighborhood. Maybe they’re interested in living downtown now, maybe they’re interested in living downtown in the future, while some people are simply interested in knowing about downtown living. The festival gives them the opportunity to learn about some of the district's finest living spaces.

Tell us about the art show.
Local artists sell their artwork at the festival - everything from clay, chalk painting, paper art, oil painting, origami, photography, and more. Some of the artists will perform art demonstrations. We’ve found that people like to watch artists at work as well as have the opportunity to buy art. It’s fun, because you can watch a local artist creating a chalk drawing, and there’s also an opportunity for children to create their own chalk art in the chalk play area – children, and adults, too!

warehouse district street festival
And the Cutest Dog Contest and Fashion Show?
For the past several years, one of the most popular features has been the Cutest Dog Contest & Fashion Show. People design such fashionable outfits for their dogs, and they walk them across the stage and the judges rate them on cuteness, creativity, uniqueness, and use of color. It’s so much fun. It’s open to any breed, any age, and you don’t need to pre-register; just show up with your dog and costume, and pay a small entry fee help us offset the costs.

What else should people check out?
If you’re interested in learning more about the architecture of the neighborhood, Thomas Yablonsky, the executive director of the Historic Warehouse District, will be leading a group of people on a walking tour of the neighborhood’s architecture starting at 5:30, leaving from the Warehouse District’s booth. And, we will have one of our Take A Hike Tours at the festival, which will start from Constantino's Market on West 9th Street at 3 p.m.

What do you have planned for kids?
We have all kinds of activities for families and kids! Everything from magicians, jugglers, clowns, a live statue performer, and more. We’ll have creative booths where they get to be the artists, as well as face painters, music, a caricature artist, and all kinds of surprises aimed at the young and the young at heart.

Final thoughts?
This festival has something for everyone, and it’s a great way to explore the exciting things the neighborhood has to offer. The hotels nearby always send their out-of-town guests to see the festival, and it gives them a chance to see how Clevelanders live. Everyone loves entertainment, good food, and good art, and we’re proud to invite the community to join us.

warehouse district street festival
If You Go
8th Annual Warehouse District Street Festival
Sunday, August 5, 2012, Noon to 8 p.m.
West Sixth Street in downtown Cleveland
Parking: $2 at the Ampco System Parking lot at West 6th and Superior (signs will direct visitors to parking lots)
More Info