File Photo / The Lion's Roar
Food, music and vendors connect families and friends during the annual “Hot August Night” event in Hammond.
The Downtown Development District is hosting the 24th “Hot August Night” on Friday, Aug. 23 and will showcase numerous businesses and artists from the area.
“We’ll have farmer’s market vendors, Southeastern artists and vendors from outside the district,” said Olivia Graziano, assistant director and farmers market director of the DDD. “We’ll have a great variety of food and shopping experiences, so you’ll see everything from jewelry sales to a cool caravan that sells cheesecakes and coffees.”
“Hot August Night” features unique attractions that offers the community the chance to get familiar with the district.
“Our main event for the evening will be the Wine & Beer Walk,” shared Graziano. “It’s really the most recognizable portion of the event because we’ve been doing it for so long, and that’s how our patrons who are coming into the community get around downtown and visit with our merchants. We’re having around 25 wine stops and upwards of 20 beer stops. We’re also going to have Zydeco musician Wayne Toups playing on our mainstage who’s won Grammy awards.”
Born and raised in Hammond, Laura Anthon shared her personal ties with “Hot August Night.”
“Growing up, I remember the Columbia did little events for kids, and I remember going there with my brothers,” expressed Anthon. “My mother also played music, and I remember setting up a tent with her. We would do drum circles and invite people off the street to play with us and have fun. It’s truly a night where friends can get together, explore downtown, and see what it has to offer. We can take pride in our city and what we have.”
Manager of Pita Pit Michelle Craig decided to participate this year to help promote their business.
“This year, we’re partnering up with the Hammond blood bank,” said Craig. “We’re also participating in the Beer Walk. It was a big hit last year as the whole town was involved, and there were tons of people all night.”
“Lionpawlooza” starts at 5:45 p.m. on the mainstage, which will serve as a university-themed pep rally.
“The spirit squads are out there alongside the band and sports teams,” stated Graziano. “The coaches do a little bit of speaking and get everyone excited for the upcoming fall season. I’ve personally always loved ‘Lionpawlooza’ because I went from participating in it to now running it. It’s fun to see how the faces change, but the event stays true to form.”
From 5 p.m. -9:30 p.m., patrons can listen to local musicians on the Listening Local stage located from North Cypress street to Morrison Park.
“We’ve moved the Listening Local Stage from the core of downtown to one of our side streets to give it that more intimate feel,” expressed Graziano. “Those are our musicians that play completely original music, and you won’t find any covers. We didn’t really have a whole lot of space allotted for them last year, so you’ll be able to congregate around the stage and have fun.”
Each year, “Hot August Night” requires a great deal of planning and execution in order to have a successful event.
“Chelsea and I have done this for a few years together now trying to iron out the kinks,” said Graziano. “We have a great events committee that has helped us figure out what functions the best. Brochures come out about a week before and can be picked up at any one of our merchants. We’ll also post parking closures about two weeks ahead to make sure people can plan ahead for the evening.”