The 2015 Tom Tom Founders Festival Fall Block Party will take place Sept. 25 and 26 at the IX Art Park. While this is the fourth time Tom Tom has hosted the Fall Block Party, this year’s event includes significant changes.
“The new venue is the IX Art Park, and it’s really been trending with U.Va. students,” Outreach Coordinator Alyssa Dizon, a fourth-year College student, said. “It’s a unique space, really big wide-open space, that a bunch of artists have turned into a public art space.”
With the Fall Block Party increasing in popularity each year, the organization grew out of the McGuffey Art Center, where the event was held in the past.
“McGuffey was more secluded and the IX is a lot better defined and makes the festival its own space,” Dizon said. “It’s huge, a lot bigger, it’s flat, a clear area for a stage, and so we think it lends itself better to including more vendors.”
The expense involved in hiring security and police to block off streets and space downtown was one major factor contributing to the change of venue. The large and well-defined IX Art Park presents a more accessible space for activities, Tom Tom volunteers said.
“It’s a hub for creative Charlottesville events,” fourth-year Nursing student and volunteer Linh Nguyen said. “It’s completely free to go hang out [at the IX Art Park]. It’s public art, and [it] embodies a lot of what’s going on in Charlottesville.”
While the Tom Tom Founders Festival is known primarily for its spring festival, it puts on the Fall Block Party to provide a taste of what the spring festival will be like.
“Part of the way we build awareness is to throw something in the fall to get people excited,” Dizon said. “It’s different because it’s only two days, but [it has the] same spirit of the spring festival with some great bands, having the community come together, vendors, food trucks, local craft beer gardens, and it showcases a lot of what’s going on in Charlottesville. So [the spirit] is very much the same, but it’s very condensed and not as expansive as the spring festival.”
One of the Fall Block Party events includes the Founding Cville Awards Ceremony, which recognizes and celebrates creative founders in the Charlottesville community. Profiles are made for award recipients and their faces are displayed on banners hung around the Downtown Mall. Some of the award recipients include Boyd Tinsley, the violinist for the Dave Matthews Band, and Zach Buckner, the founder of Relay Foods.
Similar to the spring festival, the Fall Block Party emphasizes art, culture and innovation in Charlottesville. Several of the large social entrepreneurship opportunities available at the festival include a Tech Mixer, which brings together technology firms and students from across Virginia, and the Social Impact Investing Conference, which includes a discussion on social impact bonds.
Dizon said the Fall Block Party, a two-day long event attracting more attendees this year than ever before, requires logistical efficiency as well as cooperation between the different sponsors, Charlottesville residents and University students who volunteer.
“The students who work on the festival feel that it’s a little overwhelming to come back and have to readjust to school and your living situation and then, oh, by the way, we have to make this block party happen in three weeks,” Dizon said. “I also think a big hurdle is that the festival is entirely run by volunteers, and getting the volunteers together can be a challenge. We need to get 160 volunteers between the two days. The U.Va. student body has really come through, but we are definitely looking for more.”