KRVC kicks off fall with Riverdale block festival

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The South Riverdale Block Festival returns for its sixth year of live music and community bonding, all in Riverdale’s lower section on Sept. 17.

Sponsored by the Kingsbridge Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corp., the festival takes place from 1 to 5 p.m., on Riverdale Avenue between West 236th and West 238th streets.

The festival’s main stage will feature performances from the Riverdale Children’s Theater, modern jazz from the Francisco Mela Trio, and a fusion of rock, blues and funk from the Robert Mitchell Quartet. 

And while the live acts take the stage, miniature golf, face painting, and a variety of activities for all ages are free to the public.

For Linda Manning, KRVC’s cultural development director, booking professional artists from the area is her main priority. She uses each block festival around Riverdale as a way to showcase local talent. 

But it’s also a chance for Manning to bring residents together in a fun, informal setting.

“It’s just important to give people the opportunity to mingle and talk with the people in their community,” Manning said. “When you make those connections more often — it sounds a little corny, but it’s true — it strengthens the whole community. Those things matter, (and) I find that very uplifting to facilitate that.”

KRVC president Tracy Shelton has her eyes set on bringing new customers to businesses along the streets, making sure owners are partaking in the festivities with their own activities.

“They’re very much like partners in this and like it a lot,” Shelton said.

Looking back on how the block festivals have grown in only six years, stretching throughout different parts of Riverdale, both Manning and Shelton agree they’ve learned a lot about the logistics of setting up a major festival and having it complement each business district.

“In the beginning, we were all kind of learning together,” Shelton said. 

“But now we all know each other very well, and they completely trust that we’ll do a good job. They focus more on making the most of the day for their own business.”

When it all comes down to enjoying a day out in the neighborhood, though, Manning thinks the best part of the day is just absorbing the live music without a single care in the world. 

“To be in the moment with the band … and close to them, it’s exciting to me,” Manning said. “There’s just something kind of freeing and fun about it.”

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