Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
For better or worse, H Street NE’s hipness factor continues to skyrocket, transforming the neighborhood into the second, quirkier coming of Adams Morgan. Accordingly, the strip’s annual September street fair, the H Street Festival, is a kind of de facto celebration of the neighborhood’s transformation, temporarily converting the commercial strip into a smorgasbord of randomly delightful entertainment. Last year, the festival featured your typical array of food booths but threw in a few special happenings—pie-eating contests, impromptu outdoor dance stations, and a gutsy street performance by festival regulars Baltimore Rock Opera—that took it a notch above other neighborhood fests. As the smell of chargrilling wafted through the hordes of residents and visiting drinkers, it was tough not to get a little sentimental. But maybe that had more to do with the free-flowing alcohol from the neighborhood’s dense cluster of bars.