Old West End Festival rocks from Wamba to food to artWritten by Jerry Gray | | firstname.lastname@example.org
This year’s Old West End Festival was no disappointment, from King Wamba to the Glass Pavilion lawn and art fair to local love and pride exuding from the yards and mouths of everyone I saw.
The festival weekend was re-donk-ulous. The Old West End is by far my favorite neighborhood in the entire world. The OWE Festival created an incredible tincture, mixing everyone who is anyone in a rather poignant vessel of art, community and copious amounts of social lubricants. This year’s OWE Festival went above and beyond my preconceived optimistic battle plans, took me by the hand, smacked me out of whatever subconscious funk I was wading in, and playfully dunked me in the deep end, all the while allowing me all the air and solace I needed.
My festival began on the evening of June 4, not in the OWE, but in the calm solitude of Bozarts. This is where I drank and worked to fund my entire weekend by making stenciled T-shirts to sell on the Uber-Collins lawn of Robinwood.
While my roomie loaded up his van full of art supplies and substrates to work on throughout the festival, I worked in the gallery until about 4 a.m. and proceeded to try to catch a few winks before the 9 a.m. Art Car line up of the King Wamba Parade (which I was honored to be a part of). Sleeping through my 7:30 a.m. alarm, I awoke at 8:45 a.m. in a flurry, cursing and picking aerosol out of my
nose, no shower, no deodorant and the last squeeze of toothpaste I could manage, loaded the car in a furious cylindrical motion of T-shirts, art supplies, booze, backseat bedding, odd clothes and Jobo (my dog) which foreshadowed the events which gave my life a momentary focus of fun. I scooped up my roomie, McTwan, and made it to line up by 9:30 a.m., with coffee and a fresh pack of smokes in hand. The parade was enjoyably strange, mainly because of the delirium resulting from the lack of sleep and excess of whiskey the previous evening.
The rest of the day was spent eating, drinking, creating, selling and enjoying the company of the old and new friends who make Toledo my home. Thank the lords for restraining the wind and rain throughout the afternoon. As the sun set, the ball was fully rolling itself up into a tight knit group of fine folks. As the wind picked up and sprinkles sprank, there was a calm dispersal of comfortable couples and rowdy rawhides all heading on to drier destinations to enjoy a more intimate acquaintance. Many of my friends and fellow bohemians ended up at my friend RAB’s new castle on Glenwood and started getting real with one another. Watching the storm as bone-soaked friends rolled up smiling, greeting the porch with muddy shoes and high fives. I spent the evening sleeping, enjoying the storm sprawled out with a good friend, back hatch up in the war wagon with a full 360 view of what I was sure was a belligerently intoxicated Mother Nature letting loose.
Stiff neck, crack, pop awake and help pick up the lawn that I was peddling my wares in. Cruised home for a bit and handled the three S’s and a nap. Then back to the fest where McTwan was slanging his stuff all over the lawn along with Be-Bop Records, Devicious, Svelt and a number of others taking the opportunity to share what they had to offer. The day continued in much the same fashion as the previous; out-loud laughing and recapping the night before with pals who acquired new nicknames and cred for their shenanigans, discussing the wonderful evening to come. All the while, waves of food and brew reaccumulated themselves at the front lines of splendor.
As Saturday evening approached, mother nature was shaking off her embarrassing hangover and guilt from the night before, the crew dispersed into a staggering caravan of laughter and calm understanding smiles to the JB homestead, as the party continued into the wee hours of the morning full of dancing bubble blowers, dog wrastlin’, more food, a lot more drinks and beautiful one-of-a-kind moments.
Love was in the air. I know of no other neighborhood that has such an overwhelming draw or magnetic pull as the Old West End. People love it here, and for good reason. The homes, the people, the attitude, the calm, the diversity, the acceptance, the trees, the lawns, the art and the commitment by a whole community to make this place a neighborhood of friends and homes not houses is incredibly inspiring. This place is evidence that it can all work when you love one another.
Jerry Gray is an artist, writer, vocalist, bartender, gallery owner and advocate of the Toledo Potential, which promotes the retaining and featuring of artistic talent and culture in our city.