The H&8th Night Market in Midtown closes out a season that's produced record crowds for the street party that runs the last Friday of each month from in March to October at Hudson Avenue and NW 8.
No more than 700 people attended the event, which began in August of 2011, before this year. The smallest crowd it has produced in 2013 was 2,500 in March, topping out at an estimated 8,500 last month.
“I did not think it was going to get this big this fast,” said organizer and Elemental Coffee co-owner Laura Massenat.
“I didn't think it was going to have such an impact. I didn't think of myself as a food truck advocate, I just wanted to have a great party.”
Mission accomplished. Folks of all ages gather, some bring lawn chairs and/or blankets, between NW 6 and NW 8 along Hudson Avenue to socialize, shop, drink locally brewed beer and locally roasted coffee and choose from about two dozen food trucks for a snack, dessert or full-on gourmet meal. Even dogs are welcome as long as they're on a leash.
And Friday, to get a jump on the Halloween celebration, H&8th will start an hour earlier at 6 p.m. to offer “truck-or-treating” for the kids and “Kindie” rock.
During an open house for Elemental Coffee, 815 N Hudson Ave., in early 2011, COOP Ale Works partner J.D. Merryweather wondered aloud why Midtown couldn't be home to a food truck-centric street party like those in Portland, Ore., or Austin, Texas.
Standing within earshot was Massenat, whose answer to the rhetorical question was a resounding, “Yeah, why not?”
The idea, as it turned out, fit right in with the goals of Better Block OKC, which got involved in May of 2012 to help streamline.
“Better Block elevated it and gave people a vision of what it could become, that it was more than just food trucks, that it could be about people and social interaction. LIVE on the Plaza exploded simultaneously with H&8th. Having another similar event seemed to enlighten people that they could support all the events: Paseo, Plaza, H&8th and now Premiere on Film Row,” said Kristen Vails, executive director of the Plaza District Association.
Part of the quantum leap in attendance has been the addition of live music made possible by sponsorship from Jonathan Fowler, who is vice president of operations for Fowler Holding Co., co-founder of the Norman Music Festival and a world-class audiophile.
“It was a natural extension of the local music movement that's been going on for years in the greater metro and state,” Fowler said. “We had an opportunity to help expose food lovers to that aspect of our city's culture, and it has worked really well. Food trucks and music go together like peanut butter and jelly.”
Spaghetti Eddie starts the music at 7 tonight with a family-friendly set, followed by local “Kindie” (Kid-friendly indie) rock duo Sugar Free Allstars at 8 p.m. Dr. Pants takes the stage at 9 p.m., followed by Born in November at 10.