Janet Allen has gone to the Hilltop Street Fair each of the three years it’s been around.
And she said the 2016 fair Saturday had more booths than ever.
“It’s growing,” Allen said.
And she’s right.
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Organizers recorded 5,000 attendees the first year, last year had 10,000, and Saturday 13,000-14,000 people came out.
Gusty winds didn’t keep the crowds away, but it made it tricky for some vendors to set up their tents.
“The wind has made things interesting for us,” street fair coordinator Kristie Worthey said.
One tent blew over and knocked into a couple people, who didn’t appear to be seriously injured.
Booths selling food, arts and crafts, clothing and jewelry lined a stretch of Martin Luther King Jr. Way from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., along with music and performance stages, and stands handing out information about community groups.
The Hilltop Business Association hosts the annual one-day fair, which had some new attractions this year, including a fashion show that featured local designers.
Models walked a stage set up outside the Mr. Mac Ltd. store, a Hilltop clothing icon, which provided some of the outfits for the show.
Sound Movement Arts, a Tacoma modeling, cheer and dance class studio, organized the event.
Co-owner Raven West said the studio has been open for a little more than a year, and some of its dancers performed at last year’s street fair.
She helped coordinate the fashion show this year to feature her modeling students too.
“It’s something new,” she said. “It builds their confidence.”
Riley Browe, 8, said it was a kind of challenging to walk the runway in heels and that she was nervous before it was her turn.
But afterward she said modeling her yellow tank top and shorts had been fun.
Allen, who lives on Tacoma’s East Side, watched the show start to finish.
“I thought it was beautiful,” she said.
A lacy purple dress was her favorite piece, and she talked to one of the designers about how to place an order.
As she walked around, Allen recognized kids from Lister Elementary School, where she volunteers. They were enjoying their last few weeks of summer before heading back to the classroom.
For Geneva Walker’s grandchildren, 6-year-old Sanyah Ray and 5-year-old Egypt Ray, the learning might start early.
Walker was excited to pick up a couple bags of books for the girls at the fair.
She also ran into familiar faces. She lives about five blocks from the fair and saw quite a few people from her Hilltop church, Shiloh Baptist.
Before leaving, Walker perused art displayed by Centro Latino, which joined its Latin Arts Festival with the street fair this year.
“So much beautiful stuff out here,” Walker said.
For Felicia McDaneld and her golden retriever Brisco, the smells wafting from the food vendors were a hit. And Brisco seemed excited to be around so many people.
“This is like Christmas for him,” she said.
McDaneld said it was her first year at the street fair, but that she wasn’t new to the area.
She said she graduated from Wilson High School in ’89, and that the region had been revitalized.
“It’s for everybody now,” she said.
As for next year’s fair, she’ll be back.