Mt. Airy’s Supper Sessions dinner festival returned with hundreds of people flooding the 7100 and 7200 blocks of Germantown Avenue.
Mt. Airy’s Supper Sessions dinner festival returned with hundreds of people flooding the 7100 and 7200 blocks of Germantown Avenue last week, one more step in reviving an event that three years ago was shut down because of COVID.
“With extra staffing, we’ve been able to do more outreach, and get more vendors signed up,” said Philip Dawson, executive director of the Mt. Airy Community Development Corporation (CDC), which hosts the event. “When I took over [the job] in March 2023, one of the first things I said was that we’re going to bring it back; it was a great community tradition.”
From 5 to 9 p.m. on July 12, local eateries and food trucks from outside the community offered guests a variety of choices for dining on the Avenue. The event was the second Supper Session of the season with two more scheduled, on Aug. 9 and Sept. 13.
“If we have something that’s on our block, an existing business, we want them to represent their [cuisine], but if there’s something we don’t have, like for example, the lobster, donuts, or water ice, we have them come in so that people have lots of good options.” Dawson said.
One of the most popular food trucks on the Avenue was Deke’s BBQ, owned by Derek and Jackie Denmead.
“It was fantastic. It exceeded expectations, just a great energy on the Avenue in the heart of Mt. Airy — I used to live there,” Derek Denmead said.
While Deke’s has locations in Manayunk and Germantown, coming out to Supper Sessions can give them and other outside vendors some extra business, he said, while connecting the business to the community.
Aside from the abundance of food available, there were vendor tents featuring art, clothing and jewelry. DJs, live instrumentalists and street performers offered a diversity of music.
One art vendor, Moses Buffalo-Boy, displayed his paintings on a long table. His colorful work is inspired by his Native American heritage and he signs his paintings using the name Wildfire Moses. Last week was his third time participating in the event.
“I’ve had some success with this before; I live right next door so it’s nice to come outside and see some of my friends from around town.” Buffalo-Boy said. “If you’re an artist or a creative person, it gives you a spot where you can shine your light and showcase what you do.”
Jewelry-maker Haja Annie Perez, who sells her beaded bracelets throughout Philadelphia, also appreciated the opportunity.
“I started vending with my brand in 2017, and then when the pandemic hit, I started doing this full time because I lost my job… I was working as a school secretary,” Perez said. “To support myself, I was vending the whole time – I was a stay-at-home mom for two years so all I did was focus on researching all of my materials.”
In setting up shop for one night on the Avenue, Perez was part of an event whose aim is to connect people with businesses, and with each other.
“Sometimes you have people who live in the neighborhood for years and don’t know the diversity of businesses that are here,” Dawson said, adding that the CDC aims to help build community in Mt. Airy by giving residents “a chance to come out and socialize with neighbors and friends they don’t see every day.”