Art on the Ave, a signature summer event on Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue, returns this Saturday with a slightly different look and the bonus of a multicultural food festival.
In past years, the Sixth Avenue Business District closed down Sixth from State Street to the east and Alder Street to the west, with live music on stages at either end and vendors lined on the pavement. Following a pandemic hiatus, this year’s Saturday, July 16, event will be more of a sidewalk sale, with artists featuring their wares in parking lots and at (or in front of) many restaurants, bars and retailers.
It’s a “build it back” kind of year, said Heather Stajgr, the organization’s district manager. One of the goals is to “bring the event back to the businesses.”
Artists will be stationed throughout the 0.6-mile stretch, including outside Ruston Mercantile and in the Affordable Animal Hospital lot next to Primo Grill, where seats at the open windows are sure to be coveted — both for the great pasta, pizza and seafood plus the melodies of Plaid Lion, a local jazz duo.
Hilltop Artists will have two tents for alumni to sell their work, while The Hippie House will feature a glass blowing demonstration outside.
Locust Cider has booked a DJ and The Anxious Tomato, a roving art gallery that hosts monthly events in and around Tacoma.
In addition to live music throughout the day, O’Malley’s will host artists in its back parking lot. The Redd Dog — offering buy-one-get-one at half-price pizzas — has offered up its side lot for vendors. At E9 Firehouse & Gastropub, order one of the best thin-crust pizzas in town after exploring an antique fire engine and a collection of free books.
At Catffeinated, the cat cafe and adoption center, kids can build their own rally car to run on a rainbow race track, and at Left Coast Salon, snag a spot in the hair bedazzling booths.
There will also be an “instrument petting zoo” compliments of Tacoma Youth Symphony, where visitors can “get to know the instruments,” explained Stajgr.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” she said.
Many businesses will offer specials during the event, which officially runs from noon to 5 p.m., though the hope is that visitors will stick around to celebrate with dinner and drinks that evening.
At Off Day Beer & Wine, sip on $5 frosé, or try some summer cocktails at Boom Boom Room, planning a sidewalk patio setup for the day.
On the nonalcoholic side, find a jolt from BrownDog Coffee Roasting: The upstart, zero-waste roastery based in Bonney Lake will be pouring inside Komadre Kombucha, which will also host a few artists. Gather Juice Co. will offer a 10 percent discount on fresh juice (in-person purchase only).
Shakabrah Java will also serve lunch outside at sidewalk tables to make room for a live art performance happening inside the restaurant, and Asado will open early, slinging a few dishes typically only offered at the bar.
SAVOR FEST 2022
The district has also partnered with Savor Fest, a multicultural food festival that debuted last October at Point Ruston.
At least 10 food vendors will set up in the TAPCO parking lot at 2802 6th Ave., next to Asado. The list includes:
▪ Ube Overload, a Kent-based Filipino bakery known for purple-hued pan de sal, cakes and crinkle cookies.
▪ Agabi Life, serving fresh-pressed juice
▪ RJ’s BBQ Smokehouse, slow-roasted meats with a Caribbean twist, including fried plantains and spicy slaw
▪ Pico Rico, featuring Mexican seasonings and snacks
▪ Kaur’s Kitchen, a pickup and pop-up restaurant focused on Northern Indian
▪ Tacoma favorites Jan Parker Cookery, Gigo’s Jamaican Grill, and VeGo Eatz, plus Tukwila’s Jumpin’ Jambalaya
Savor Fest founder and local pastry chef Lydia Mendez of Little Miss Sweets NYC, a gluten-free bakery inspired by her Puerto Rican heritage and Brooklyn childhood, will be there, too.
Mendez set out to create a low-barrier outlet for food entrepreneurs of color. The first event was successful to the point that she began planning a follow-up.
“I’m really excited to be bringing this event back and hope that it continues to bridge the gap between cultures and allows everyone to enjoy the diversity of all of us who call the PNW home,” she said by email. “I’m proud to say that Savor Fest PNW is supporting a fully BIPOC lineup of chefs and local food entrepreneurs. My hope is that these businesses continue to thrive and more and more people get to know them.”
Partnering with Savor Fest brings “an extra element” to this year’s Art on the Ave, said Stajgr, showcasing an even broader variety of food and drink.
ART ON THE AVE
▪ 6th Ave. from Alder to State St., on6thave.org
▪ July 16, noon to 5 p.m.
▪ Printed maps available at participating businesses, follow instagram.com/6thavetacoma for updates
SAVOR FEST PNW
▪ TAPCO parking lot, 2802 6th Ave., Tacoma, instagram.com/savorfestpnw
▪ July 16, noon to 5 p.m.
▪ Food vendors serving Indian, Filipino, Jamaican, Cajun, vegan and more
This story was originally published July 13, 2022 5:00 AM.