This year’s Westchester Arts & Music Block Party weekend has activities for the whole family, both virtual and IRL
By Shanee Edwards
Like many things in 2020, the fifth annual Westchester Arts & Music Block Party Weekend (aka WAM) is going to look different this year. But if you’re thinking to yourself, “It’s going to be just another boring Zoom meeting,” think again. Yes, WAM will mostly be virtual, but several events will be interactive, family-friendly and create fun opportunities for the community to connect. There will be an in-person treasure hunt around the neighborhood, a wine tasting with a trio of wines you can order ahead of the event and a cooking class to benefit the Emerson Avenue Community Garden.
WAM co-founder and producer, John Sharpe, a self-described “tree hugger” and “community-spirited person,” thought he’d have to cancel the event this year due to coronavirus, but at the urging of one of his committee members, he realized the community needs WAM more than ever in 2020.
“As our lives become more digital,” says Sharpe, “there’s more of a need to really connect – to have real, tangible connections.” Sharpe admits he produces WAM almost as much for himself as for the community. “There’s so much negativity out there and if I get swallowed up by the things that make me crazy, the only solution I have is to do something positive for somebody. That’s kind of my psychotherapy. I do this because I love it and it gives me a lot of peace in a turbulent time,” he says.
Here’s what to expect from WAM, Friday, Sept. 11 through Sunday, Sept. 13.
Sept. 11 @ 6 p.m.: Friday Night Live
To kick off the weekend, Sharpe is continuing the pandemic-inspired Friday Night Live series via Instagram (@wamblockparty) with husband and wife duo Pilgrim, known for their Folk/Americana tunes.
Sept. 11 @ 7 p.m.: Virtual Wine Tasting
Local winemakers Sweetzer Cellars have put together kits of three different wines: a viognier, rosé and pinot noir for this virtual tasting. The winemakers will share their stories and provide tasting notes. The three-bottle tasting kit costs $70 plus tax and includes free delivery. A portion of the sales will go to Emerson Avenue Community Garden.
Sept. 9 to 13: Arts and Crafts Silent Auction
Local jewelry makers, craftspeople and artisans provide the goods and you provide the bids online. Winning bids support the artist with 10% of the sale going to the Emerson Avenue Community Garden. Bidding starts at noon on Sept. 9 and ends at 5 p.m. on Sept. 13.
Sept. 9 to 13: ‘I Spy’ Art Treasure Hunt
This family-friendly competition encourages you and the kids to get on your bikes and wheel around the neighborhood looking for art posted in Westchester yards. Once you “spy” the artwork, take a selfie and upload it to Facebook or Instagram (complete rules at wamblockparty.com). The prize? $500! “We thought it would be fun to do something physical to get the community out and about and have the chance of connecting,” says Sharpe, who originally wanted to offer up a new bicycle as the prize, only to discover bikes everywhere are sold out. But cash is always good, says Sharpe, adding, “Who doesn’t want $500? If I wasn’t on the committee, I’d sure get out there and try.”
Sept. 12, 4 to 8 p.m.: WAM Remixed
Sharpe is excited to bring a four-hour music festival to WAM’s social media featuring eight artists who were popular on Sharpe’s Friday Night Live Instagram concert series (@wamblockparty). “We’re going to have a watch party and see what happens with that. Each artist will perform a 30-minute set,” says Sharpe. Go to to facebook.com/wamblockparty or watch via YouTube.
Sept. 13, 4:30 to 6 p.m.: Cooking Class
Chefs Harry Posner and Natalie Dial of soon-to-be-opened restaurant, Tomat (adjacent to the new Westchester bookstore The Book Jewel) will host a virtual cooking demo that uses vegetables inspired by the Emerson Avenue Community Garden.
Sharpe says Posner and Dial are agreat fit for WAM, because “they’re helping us out by giving us interesting content that will hopefully motivate people to watch.” To view the class, make a $15 donation that will go directly to the garden.
Headline sponsors of WAM include The Drollinger Family Charitable Foundation and The Stephanie Younger Group.
For more info, visit wamblockparty.org.