East End Street Fest
Oct 19 11–8
$7; 12 & under free
2600 Navigation Blvd
Two stages featuring 15 music groups, nine hours of nonstop family-friendly entertainment, three blocks of artwork, a best taco contest, and a block party. This bundle of joy is the Second Annual East End Street Fest, to be held from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday at 2600 Navigation.
The festival’s organizers, the East End Chamber of Commerce, have predicted that this year will top last year’s festival. Headlining the performances will be East End’s own Sister, Sister, a 2000 Grammy nominee. There will be a plethora of food offerings, including East End restaurants El Tiempo and Lenox BBQ.
“[The festival] gives everybody pride because we’re able to showcase our community to all of Houston,” said East End Chamber of Commerce President Frances Castaneda. “So it’s just another way of us, the whole community, having a big party and inviting all of Houston to appreciate the beauty, the heritage, the culture, the food, the arts as we do every day.”
For the first time, the festival will also shine light on community members like the East End Rey and Reina: Felix Fraga, the founder of Ripley House, and Yolanda Black Navarro, the founder of Shoes for Kids. Also, for the first time, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the community soccer field.
In another first, the festival will be held in its permanent location at the newly built esplanade on Navigation, a $5 million project that took four years to complete. The esplanade starts with an archway designed with papel picado and stretches for three blocks of decorative benches, solar lights, bike racks, and waste bins. Even the ground is worth viewing—the concrete was crafted to look like wood.
“They wanted to return Navigation to its former status as the main street of the community,” said Diane Schenke, President of the Greater East End Management District. “They wanted it to be a place where people can gather, and people can stroll, and they wanted it to tell a little bit about the history of the community. That is one reason why some of the quotes are there.”
A few benches feature quotes in English and Spanish. One, by Pedro Infante (a man who used to sing at a cantina and was considered the most beautiful Mexican man alive) on Navigation translates to, “If I die, who will kiss all the women?”
Schenke said the beautification will attract more visitors than last year, when around 5,000 people attended. “It was our first attempt to do this, and we were blown away by the fact that we had that many people,” Schenke said. “It was on an old parking lot. It was a hot day and no shade. So this location provides a great deal more—it will just be a nicer place to stroll.”
The festival has already attracted more performers. This year will be Sister Sister’s first time performing at the festival. The group’s guitarist and singer/songwriter, Melinda Joyce Hernandez, known as Mimi Durango on stage, said there has never been anything like the festival or the art in the neighborhood before. “It was a neighborhood that was kind of depleted,” Hernandez said. “It’s changed in the sense that it’s no longer going to be a down neighborhood.”
Hernandez said the neighborhood that she knows and loves had made a profound transformation for the better. “I’ve lived in LA for a bit. I’ve lived in Austin. I’ve lived in Nashville. But I’m back home. I’m back in Magnolia, and I’m not going anywhere.”
[Free parking is available at the old Finger Furniture on I-45. Metro shuttles are available to take visitors to the festival.]