Fifth Annual Celebrate South Madison
Festival
Good Things in the Hood
By Jonathan Gramling

There is a lot to celebrate in South MadisThere is a lot to celebrate in South
Madison these days. There is a vibrancy and a motion not seen in decades
there that is beginning to get the social and economic forces moving to raise
the quality of life in South Madison’s neighborhoods.

Reflective of that was the Fifth Annual Celebrate South Madison festival held
September 14. While South Madison is traditionally viewed as the area
immediately surrounding the Villager Mall and Penn Park, it is also inclusive of
the S. Park Street corridor. And the South Metropolitan Planning Council brought
in some new partners to help celebrate South Madison.

“We’re down at the Labor Temple and we are so happy to be here,” said Sheri
Carter, the chair of the planning council. “It is centrally located. You can see the
festival from two sides and we partnered with the Building Trades Council and
they all came out. We have a fantastic stage. We brought in some heavy guns,
the Davis Family. You can’t beat that. We’ve gone uptown. The food vendors we
have this year are JD’s, Inka Heritage, which is right on Park Street. We have
Pizza Hut, which was one of our sponsors this year. We have Famous Dave’s.
We’re trying to keep things local.”

And Arvin Strange, the council’s executive director is upbeat about South
Madison’s future.

“South Madison has a rich history in terms of its diversity and we want to
continue to promote that as well as encourage people to consider this as a
neighborhood and area of the city to live,” Strange said. “We have diversity in
terms of the restaurants — probably the best diversity of any area in the city. We
have diversity in population and we just came together today to have fun and
celebrate South Madison.”
Clockwise from upper left: Ollie Davis croons as a part
of The Davis Family Band; Thomas Adeetuk (r) and a
visitor to his African clothing and craft stand; André
Davis keeps the beat with his bass; Sheri Carter (l-r) and
Arvin Strange; Char Braxton (l-r) and Alan Banks dancer
to the rythm of The Davis Family Band.
All up and down Park Street, new construction is evident, from medical facilities to apartment buildings.

“Visually, you can see that S. Park Street is on the upswing for sure,” Strange emphasized. “There are few vacancies. Businesses are
approaching the Planning Commission in the city all the time to come into this area to do business. And it is a great place to do business.
It’s a great population with great diversity. And I think it would be a great place to do business. This is a land of opportunity when it comes
to business, residential and community.”

Good things are happening in the neighborhood.