On the Lawn brings summer fun to the northern edge of the Western Avenue district 

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Food trucks and a full slate of fun and family-friendly activities welcome Western Avenue Association’s On the Lawn event back for its June installment.

The recurring outdoor summer event series is in its fourth year. Following a successful opening May 4, next month’s event runs 6-9 p.m. June 1 on the Chesapeake Lawn, 6200 N. Western Ave., just north of Whole Foods. Participating food trucks include Yum Yum Bites, Blue Donkey Cafe, The Flying Pig BBQ, Katiebug’s Shaved Ice and Hot Chocolate, The Loaded Bowl and MOB Grill. Anthem Brewing Company brings out some kegs and sells beer to the adults.

Western Avenue Association executive director Rachael Taylor said guests can also expect face-painting, inflatables, yard games and plenty of kid-friendly jams pumping through the stereo.

She said the association’s previous director introduced the event in 2014 to draw more attention to a side of the district that does not see many similar community events come its way.

“We really wanted to bring all of those neighborhoods together and utilize this awesome lawn we have access to through Chesapeake,” Taylor said.

Though she was not director at the time, Taylor has been involved in organizing On the Lawn since its inception. The event began as a much grander occurrence featuring things like pop-up shops, live bands and cooking competitions.

The association has since scaled back its approach. Taylor said she now spends her time focusing on the event’s core appeal.

“The essentials … are what bring people back,” she said. “We’re just bringing on the things that people really enjoy about it and just utilizing that grass space for outdoor play.”

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This year’s On the Lawn season concludes with a final event July 7. The 2017 finale might also stand as the end of the festival in general. Taylor said Chesapeake Energy Corporation is involved in a pending sale of the land for possible future development. If the land is sold, the association’s use of the property might be restricted.

If this is the last year, On the Lawn will be partially remembered for the innovate fun of some attending youths. Taylor said it has become a tradition for many to sled or surf down the northern side of the lawn’s small grass hill.

When the festival began in 2014, there was a yoga class held in that area. Taylor recalls using cheap lawn mats for the demonstration. After the class, some children quickly found another use for the mats.

“The kids ended up taking them and just flying down the hill,” Taylor said.

The mats were not of high enough quality to last through much use, so they were soon replaced by sturdier pieces of cardboard.

“Now, every single event, I go around and collect and flatten boxes and just bring them out there,” Taylor said. “The kids just go crazy for it.”

Over time, the event has evolved into a laidback gathering of surrounding communities. In many ways, the festival has become an idea place for summer family fun.

“It’s become a time to just sit around, hang out and relax,” she said. “A lot of the lawn is actually shaded that time of night, so it’s kind of a nice place to just sit and watch the kids play.”

Print headline: Yard party, On the Lawn brings summer family fun to the northern edge of the Western Avenue district.

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