Two weeks ago Friday marked the first day of May in Montclair and the start of a busy town calendar. With the first day of the Montclair Film Festival on Friday, and Glen Ridge Avenue and Walnut Street fairs, the town was bustling and the sun was shining. Welcome to Walnut street, a street festival just 3 years young, took place on Saturday May 2nd and successfully captured the vibe of one of my favorite neighborhoods and food destinations in town. I’ll be honest, it’s taken me so long to write this because instead of enjoying everything this street fair had to offer, interviewing vendors, and taking great photos, I was experiencing this fair with my family. Experiencing something with your family when you have a 4 year-old and an almost 2 year-old is kind of like trying to “experience” your wedding day. You have people (in this case tiny humans) pulling you in different directions while really cool things happen around you and you attempt to taste really good food, but end up watching other people (in this case tiny humans) eat the food instead. And someone always ends up melting down or falling asleep. So I will attempt to paint a picture, although I have to admit that my experience was somewhat limited because we had the nap time clock ticking from the moment we arrived.
We arrived on Walnut Street on a perfectly beautiful day with the boy in his stroller and the 4 year-old pushing the stroller into the street. My wife bribed our daughter with a donut because for some reason, a street fair didn’t sound fun to her that day. So of course the first thing we had to do was get a donut. As we entered Walnut street, I started drooling over the beautiful art, antiques, and other cool vintagey items that I had to walk quickly by, so we could get the 4 year-old her donut. We immediately recognized friends outside the Montclair Baby location and stopped to chat.
But of course after 5 minutes we were reminded of donuts and Montclair Bread had a genius donut decorating table for the kids. So not only did my kids get a donut, but they got to do something interactive. Here are some kiddos decorating donuts in front of Montclair Bread.
She finally got her donut. She had to wait a whole 5 minutes. The torture…
Her brother ate his donut in 10 seconds and wanted another while she was still taking dainty little bites.
But there was so much more than donuts. Walnut Street really has become a destination for food. With Gina’s, Montclair Bread, Le Salbuen, Red Eye Cafe, Corso 98, Mac Attack, Babo Teahouse, and the long-standing Egan and Sons and Halcyon, all in a three block stretch, Walnut Street has become dense with fine foods and rich flavors.
In addition to permanent food options, Walnut Street hosts the weekly Montclair Farmer’s Market, which opens the door to even more fresh food and of course, food trucks!
I spent a good 15 minutes in the taco line and lost my family. Good thing for me, I ran into friends and then eventually reunited with my family. Also, good, the tacos from Taqueria Autentica (taco truck)!
There were also crafts and activities for kids that were really fun and entertaining, but I have no photos because I was chasing my children and eating tacos in the kid zone. My daughter painted a rock and helped create some weird sculpture-like thing with big sticks. I was able to grab a bubble tea from Babo on my way out and sample delicious cake from Gina’s, as my son was fading and whining for his nap.
Walnut Street is a special place in a special town. My favorite thing about this whole experience is the sense of community I feel when I go to these events. My friend Stephanie and her husband Logan actually told me they had a bet going on to see if they could guess the number of people they would know at Welcome to Walnut Street. She guessed more than 9.5, which was their betting number, and he said less. Well their final count was 21! I love this because Montclair really is a small enough town where you actually see people you know on a regular basis. But it’s also large enough to have something for everyone and large enough to meet and see new and interesting people all the time. It may have been a bit of a whirlwind with the kids, but I’m so glad they had the opportunity to attend this event and I’m glad they will have so many more opportunities to attend town events in the future. This is a town where so many people are welcome and where the town embraces community and variety and makes you feel like everyone is a part of it.
I would say that Welcome to Walnut was a success. I thoroughly enjoyed attending this event with my family. And I loved watching my kids absorb everything that was going on around them. But, there were things, like the “poem ladies” (photo below) as I call them, that I would have loved to wait in line for, if I had a bit more time that day.