What do you get when you combine a farmers' market with a lineup of talented musicians and performers, a premiere of a documentary by a local filmmaker, crafts for kids, educational workshops, and good company? Celebrate South Madison, a festival that will be held at the Villager Mall on Thursday, June 3.
This is the first such festival, and is a collaboration between the South Metropolitan Planning Council, Park Street Partners and other groups working to promote a sense of pride and community in the Bay Creek, Bram's Addition, Burr Oaks, Capitol View Heights, and Greenbush neighborhoods.
Wes Johnson, a resident of Greenbush and member of the event's planning committee, explains the great financial and cultural diversity of people south Madison residents has brought about an "amazing array of locally-owned businesses and organizations."
The festival coincides with the kickoff of the South Madison Farmers' Market at its Villager Mall location on 2300 South Park Street. The market is held throughout the growing season in different locations every day Sundays through Thursdays.
Robert Pierce, market manager and a leader of the festival's planning committee, explains how this gathering is an ideal opportunity to help make south Madison residents more aware of the markets and what they have to offer. "We want people to realize these are their markets," he says, "and are an ideal way to access fresh, healthy, affordable food."
Kris Canto, a Slow Food UW intern who has been busy with its planning, believes that generating more support for and education about local farmers' markets is essential. "People who understand and have access to such resources can better care about the food they're eating and how it affects their health and their children's health," he says. As part of the festivities, Park Street fave Taqueria Guadalajara will be selling locally-sourced tacos with beef from .
Another goal of the festival is to bring awareness to how south Madison is viewed as a part of the larger Madison community. Johnson comments on how many people only know this part of the city via commutes along Park Street or Fish Hatchery Road between their workplaces and homes.
"The residents of south Madison don't see their neighborhoods as 'just another place,'" says Pierce, who notes that when its neighborhoods are discussed in the media, it's often as part of a story that focuses on violence. "These kinds of things happen everywhere," says Pierce, "but south Madison is always pin-pointed. We want to change this and demonstrate the vitality the community offers." The culmination of the festival is a screening of the documentary Style and Grace by award-winning UW filmmaker Linda Friend, which tells the story of the historic Style and Grace Salon at 1610 Gilson Street.
Perhaps the main goal of the festival is to bring people together to enjoy a June afternoon. "We want to celebrate the south side community and have a good time doing it," says Johnson. "If we can make this happen, I think it will have a lot of positive side effects."
The festival is still seeking volunteers to assist throughout the day; interested persons should contact Jodi Wortsman at 260-8098. More information can also be found via Facebook and