A Bounty in Our Backyard

The Local takes in some serious local history at Second Saturday (and finds lots of other cool shit, too).

Just up School House lane in Germantown, there’s a remarkable stretch of Colonial America – literally, George Washington slept here (for two months during the Yellow Fever epidemic). Along cobblestoned streets, there’s old architecture, cemeteries, battle grounds, the Underground Railroad, an Arboretum on the grounds of an historic mansion…

Summer is “tour season,” when all these landmarks open to the public every second Saturday. As usual, Historic Germantown kicked off Second Saturdays with a big block party in Market Square, including food, vendors, beer garden, live music & performances, and free bus/walking tours all day.

Community tables were only $30, and provided front-row access to all the fun, so naturally, we set up a shady tent by the beer garden. Which by the way offered Young American’s local cider and craft beer from Attic Brewing, Germantown’s first brewery (still in development).

The talent we saw on stage here! Jazz bands & performers, full-on dance troupes, and a modern pas de deux by BalletX dancers that was simply mesmerizing — see the video on Historic Germantown’s facebook page. The great Ursula Rucker’s powerful spoken word poetry pulled no punches and electrified the crowd (watch on Germantown United CDC’s facebook). Despite the colonial adorableness, this is no tourist trap. It’s an authentic, centuries-old community with stories and scars and struggles and soul.

And so much art! Germantown is home to 1,000 artists – quite a few were selling wares at Second Saturday, and others were out networking and letting us eavesdrop on some pretty cool projects in the works. Seems a big creative hub here is Uncle Bobbies Coffee & Books, a thriving new independent book store/café/roundtable/activist lair. A few blocks away, Germantown Espresso Bar fosters a mellow, musical vibe with Open Mic nights every Thursday. Jerk chicken, funnel cake, BBQ, Nick’s roast beef… The festival offered so much to sample, once our caffeine buzz wore off.

The food here’s not all mobile, either — in fact, G-town has some serious foodie action. You may not have heard because a lot of these establishments don’t bother with advertising. Or social media. Or even, like, signs. You just kind of have to find them by word of mouth, and fortunately for us folks were singing like canaries at Second Saturday. We have a whole list of “secret” restaurants track down now, starting with a raw foods chef everyone was raving about.

And another local farmer’s market! Every Thursday starting June 14th, Germantown’s historic Market Square offers seasonal produce, herbs, and flowers plus crafts, kids activities, and more. With the Food Trust and Weaver’s Way.  (3pm – 7pm, off Germantown Ave at School House)

Don’t forget about East Falls’ farmer’s market under the Twin Bridges, of course, Saturdays 10 to 2. They each have different vendors, which doubles our local options for fresh fruits and veggies! Soak in some art & history while you’re here. And maybe stumble on your new favorite restaurant. Treat yourself to some exploring. Choose your own adventure this summer, in this funky, spunky neighborhood next door.

FRIDAY JUNE 8:  Drink History at Wissahickon Brewing Company: see what Historic RittenhouseTown has on tap! Enjoy an evening with friends & neighbors to raise critical funds for preserving & protecting this important piece of Philly history. Tix $35, includes TWO craft beers and all-you-can-eat snacks, plus family-friendly games & contests. (5pm – 9pm)

SATURDAY JUNE 16:  a special FREE day of entertaining & educational family-friendly activities celebrating Juneteenth, which commemorates the ending of slavery in the US. Food, vendors, historic re-enactments, performances, and more. (12pm – 7:30pm)

Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books
Super-cool spot offering more than just coffee & books! With so many people feeling divided as neighborhoods are being dismantled, Uncle Bobbie’s provides a community space for sharing and learning about each other. Regular book readings, workshops, and events. Discounts for grassroots & non-profit organizations. Friday night film series and children’s story times, too.
5445 Germantown Avenue (Germantown)

Germantown Espresso Bar
Funky shop tucked into a little urban oasis with an Open Mic night every Thursday. Signups at 6:30pm, first act’s up at 7:30pm. Everyone gets 3 songs or 15 minutes to showcase their talent.
26 Maplewood Mall (Germantown)
Open Mon – Fri 7am – 7pm; Saturday 8am – 6pm; Sun 8am – 4pm

Photos here (& photos with logo) courtesy of Louis C. Hochman/LCHPhoto.com. Available for events, weddings and portraits. Prints available for sale at LCHPhoto.com/store

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