Cleveland Reboot

Hessler Street Festival

Hessler Street Festival

The Hessler Street Fair is held in late May of each year in Cleveland's Hessler Road. Hessler Street Festival is the unofficial start to the summer festival season of Cleveland. It is a two-day street “artist-friendly, non-corporate, all-volunteer” fair that features poetry readings, live music, street vendors, a variety of delicious food and original art. Admission to the Hessler Street Festival is free and it attracts more than 10,000 visitors each year. Hessler Road is a one-way residential street made up of bricks and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The HNA (Hessler Neighborhood Association) was started to promote activities which enhances the social and architectural value of Hessler Road and to raise funds for housing renovation. The Hessler Street Fair evolved in 1969 and was started as an annual block party into a street festival. An umbrella organization known as University Circle Inc. (UCI) that supports the educational and cultural institutions in the area, wanted to build parking lots and dormitories for the students by bulldozing the Hessler Road houses. In November of 1975, the City of Cleveland dedicated the Hessler Road as a Landmark District through the efforts of the Neighborhood Association which is funded by the early Street Fairs. Hessler residents participated in rent strikes in 1976 and forced UCI to provide the funds for needed repairs on the homes UCI owned on the Hessler Road and consequently, some of these properties were sold by UCI.

Many of the original Neighborhood Association founders had moved on with their lives by the mid-Eighties and the Hessler Street Fairs ceased as there were few people interested in organizing a large public event. The last Hessler Street Festival in the city was held in 1984. Visitors would fondly recall the Hessler Street Fair for the next decade. Visitors remembered the Hessler Street Fair for its “good vibes”, good music, good art and good food. Thus in 1995, partly to raise funds for Neighborhood Association once again and partly out of wistfulness, a small group of past and present residents of Hessler got together to breathe a new life into the Fair. The Hessler Street Fair was rejuvenated with a crew of volunteers to help to organize it and attracts approximately 10,000 visitors each year to sample its offering of food, crafts and music arts. The Hessler Street Fair struggles to promote a spirit of community awareness, togetherness, and fun.

The Fair has once again become an annual spring tradition in Cleveland. The Fair raises funds to maintain and preserve the neighborhood and welcomes other local non-profits who are interested in participating and raising the funds for their causes. The Hessler Street Fair is still well known for festivals and live events of crafts, foods, music and arts welcoming 10,000 visitors from all over northern Ohio to Hessler Street each spring.




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