Like many Hobokenites and folks from nearby towns, I braved the swelter on Sunday in order to enjoy the Arts & Music Festival. This year, due to the street work being done downtown the festival was held between 8th and 14th Streets instead of downtown as is tradition. And, after spending an hour or two sweating and eating crabcake sandwiches in the sun (not a combination I’d recommend, by the way), one thing is clear: The Arts & Music Festival should always be held uptown, for the following reasons:
1. The Street is Wider. It’s true—Washington north of 8th Street is wider than downtown, the sidewalks are narrower. What’s normally bad for pedestrians becomes a good thing during the festival, because the crowd of sweaty people have more room to enjoy as they explore what the festival offers. Anyone who has been crammed in elbow-to-sweaty-elbow with their fellow festival-goers has to agree that having a few extra feet on either side is a blessing.
2. Less Traffic. It might have been my imagination, and certainly no scientific investigation was conducted, but when held downtown the festival always seems to snarl traffic terribly, mainly because downtown near the PATH is a maze of one-way street on a good day. Uptown is a bit more flexible, and there seemed to be a lot less vehicular mayhem on Sunday.
3. Clearer Sidewalks. Despite the wider street and narrower sidewalks, the relatively sparse business presence uptown meant the sidewalks weren’t as difficult to maneuver as they are downtown during the festival. This meant that if you needed to duck out of the crowd for any reason, you could find yourself some breathing room.
4. Less Disruption. While I’d imagine some of the businesses downtown do very well on festival day by siphoning off foot traffic—and thus were probably not happy about Sunday’s shift uptown—on the other hand, anyone who had shopping or other business to do downtown was actually free to do so instead of being forced to navigate the craziness.
Of course, the Arts & Music Festival is a great event and a great way to spend an afternoon no matter where, exactly, it’s being held. We can only hope that next year it won’t be the approximate temperature of the sun when the festival comes back to town.