Make.Shift Block Party: Aug. 2 at Flora St.

On one of the most beautiful weekends of the summer I was thrilled to have the opportunity to volunteer at the Make.Shift Block Party, an annual fundraiser event supports Make.Shift and all of the art and music it helps bring to the community. Their downtown location on Flora St. is between the new Lightcatcher Museum and Old Town Hxwall. (In case you aren’t aware Make.Shift is a non-profit established to provide possibilities for local artists and musicians. The Art Space offers an art gallery, an all-ages venue for live shows, and rentable studios for both visual artists and musicians).

The Make.Shift Block Party 2014 had a wide variety of offerings for the whole family. The stage had live music and entertainment continuously throughout the event and the sound carried beautifully filling the whole block which was buzzing with action and activities. Iron Street Printing offered live screen printing including the Block Party 2014 design and collected funds for Make.Shift in whatever amount the guest chose to donate. ISP even brought plenty of shirts in case folks forgot they could bring anything they wanted to have printed. Just down the way the raffle prize packages, yes prize PACKAGES were displayed, showcasing local donors. The Kids’ Zone which offered hands on experiences including a cardboard construction project, giant bubbles and of course the bounce house. Don’t think the fun ends there, because the Block Party has a slip’n’slide tradition and this year was no exception. That apparently wasn’t wet enough for some folks as the dunk tank was a very popular attraction, not only for the chance to get splashed, but also the opportunity to plunge your favorite local musician/artist/comedian/volunteer.

The stage really was my favorite feature of the event. The Comettes were everything I had hoped for and more, Eagle Teeth came on early and really set the bar high, but, Specters, Just Kidding, Baltic Cousins and Grid Hopper had no hesitation to follow suit.  The flow of bands was excellent, and set breaks featured other entertainment like belly dancers and a pie eating contest. Each group brought their own sound and personality to the stage and attendees enjoyed the music while still participating in every attraction with many regularly visiting the stage up close. As the sun dropped in the sky Manatee Commune took the stage and the focus shifted; other areas quieted down and the dancing really got going on the stage end of the street. The beer garden with lounge furniture was strategically situated allowing the 21+ crowd to really experience the music while enjoying a beer or cider from a number of local breweries including Wander and Kulshan, or even a PBR tall boy.

The Make.Shift crew hosted an epic block party this year and I expect no less in the future. I had an amazing experience as a volunteer and was proud to help out for this event, and it was an important reminder of just how many people work year-round to create events celebrating art and music in our town. I firmly encourage our readers to consider donating some of their time to something they love. It is as easy as finding something you like and then asking “what can I do to help?” The volunteer coordinator will help you find an opportunity to get involved and support the events and activities that touch your life.

-Thea Hart