There’s an encouraging trend that’s beginning to take over downtown Wilmington of late. While the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival and St. Anthony’s Italian Festival have held their ground for decades, new outdoor fests are popping up like wildfire. A very successful first annual Local Brews & Local Grooves festival packed a sun-drenched Market Street on Sept. 29, and on Oct. 11, NextFab will celebrate its first year in Wilmington with a #OneYearInTheMaking block party between 500 and 600 N. Tatnall St.
NextFab, for the unfamiliar, is a regional network of collaborative workspaces where entrepreneurs can gain access to traditional and advanced tools to make their dreams come to life. The Philadelphia-based project was founded by Dr. Evan Malone in 2009, and the Wilmington location marks its first year in existence this month.
“The average person isn’t able to get their hands on the kind of tools we offer at NextFab, from 3-D printers to advanced mechanical tools, unless they are in a university or privately funded setting,” says Eric Kaplan, Director of Sales & Marketing. “The goal of the program is to give people the access they need, without the overhead, for a small monthly fee, based on what kind of membership fits them best.”
Wilmington’s NextFab lab sits at 503 N. Tatnall Street, and on Thursday from 4-9 p.m., free tours will be part of the festival, which is open to the public. Qualified attendees – basically those who take a tour of the facility and are willing to engage in a consultation with staff regarding the idea they’d like to bring to fruition – will be eligible for a complimentary one-month membership.
“In the time since we opened our third regional location in Wilmington, it’s been a goal to help with economic development and be a part of the continued growth of The Creative District,” says Kaplan. “The Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC) played a big part in wooing us to make the move, and after a successful first year, we thought, what better way to celebrate than with a fun, outdoor festival?”
As for the block party itself, all the regular accoutrements will be on hand, including craft beer and local food trucks, like Uncle John’s BBQ, Gonzo’s Kitchen and The Sweetest Rose Cupcake Company. Live, local bands on the bill include Rusty Blue, Xtra Alltra, Rachel Schain and Scott Michels.
INteractive exhibits, including those arranged by NextFab members themselves, will also line the 500 block of Tatnall Street, as well as local sponsors like Spaceboy Clothing (featuring a live screen printing exhibit) and the Delaware Humane Association (responsible for operating the beer garden with a variety of local brews on tap). Other sponsors include the Delaware College of Art & Design, the WRC, The Creative District and Milk Street Marketing.