This Saturday, the Whiteaker neighborhood will continue to build community ties by hosting the 6th annual Whiteaker Block Party. The event will showcase vendors, art and fashion native to one of Eugene’s quirkiest neighborhoods.
The block party originated six years ago from a small group of friends who decided to throw a neighborhood party and has since grown into an annual event that attracts thousands of people from Eugene and beyond.
“The first year was kind of homegrown,” said founding member Zoe Gadsby. “We were building stages the morning of (the event).”
Gadsby created the event with friends in her neighborhood. The same year, Ninksasi Brewing Company moved into the neighborhood and agreed to sponsor the event.
The block party’s potential is up to the efforts of the neighborhood, especially because the event is free.
For the first time this year, the block party will welcome a slam poetry stage. “The more people that want to do things, the more we can have,” Gadsby said.
This year, her neighbor offered to host the slam poetry stage.
“Everybody does it just because,” Gadsby said. “It’s a free event put on by volunteers to show community and bringing everyone together for a good time.”
At the block party, anyone can come and see music for free. This year’s lineup includes Black Beast Revival, Fierce Creatures, Adventure Galley, Kimosobi, Hot for Chocolate, The Ferns and Blue Lotus. For a full list of bands, visit the Whiteaker Block Party’s website.
In addition to music, the block party will host a fashion show with designers local to the Whiteaker. Owner of Redoux Parlour, Laura Lee Laroux, has produced the show for the past three years.
“It’s going to be very diverse,” Laroux said of this year’s show. Eight designers local to the Whiteaker will showcase their collections. “The cool thing about the fashion show we produce is that it’s more of a good time; it’s not uptight,” Laroux said. “The block party is pretty rowdy, and we like to showcase wild designs that are more costume-y and avant-garde.”
Block partygoers can expect giant feather headdresses, Burning Man gear and costumes from a woman who designs for Christian pro wrestlers. The fashion show will end the evening celebrations and will be dedicated to the late owner of Olive Juice, Brad Coffey.
To both Gadsby and Laroux, the block party is important because it provides a perspective on the Whiteaker, counter to its sometimes precarious reputation.
“A lot of people have a stereotype or idea about the Whit that it’s unsafe or there are a lot of junkies,” Laroux said. “But it’s a huge artistic and close-knit community, so it’s cool to let the rest of Eugene get a taste of what our neighborhood is like.”
Gadsby views it as the Whiteaker’s way of saying, “Look what we can do.”
The Whiteaker Block Party will be this Saturday, Aug. 4 from 12-10 p.m.