Democratic Noodles Abound At 3rd Annual 9th Square Street Fest

MOLLY MONTGOMERY PHOTOHundreds of artists, dozens of chefs, and crowds of New Haven residents were relaxed as noodles on Friday night.

They gathered to slurp and dance and stretch on Orange Street, which was closed to traffic between Crown and Center for the third annual NoodlesOn9 street festival. The Town Green District, Artspace’s City Wide Open Studios (CWOS), and nearby restaurants organized the event to promote the 9th Square and celebrate the 2018 launch of CWOS.

The theme of this year’s festival was wellness, complete with yoga mats that quickly became dance mats.

“I’m lovin’ it,” said Joseph Smith, who also goes by “King Jazz,” when he took a quick break from dancing. “I’m lovin’ it. My lady’s havin’ a great time.” He pointed and smiled to his partner, Cynthia Boll, who was busy twisting to D.J. Dooley O’s rhythms. “We live downtown, and this is beautiful.”

Later in the evening King Jazz and Boll would groove with Aidan Pearson and Tremaine and Trent Barr…

…while across from them June Lanpher, Melissa McGrath, Illisa Kelman, and Luke Cantarella swung and leapt and clapped.

Attendees drifted between dancing and eating, sampling noodles that ranged from Cajun …

… at Amoy’s Cajun Creole & American Restaurant booth, with owner Amoy Kong Brown …

… to Japanese, prepared by Mecha chef Brian Reilly.

With full bellies attendees wandered into Artspace, at 50 Orange St., where gallery-goers sipped beer from Shebeen, a Connecticut brewery, and pondered paintings in squid costumes.

“It’s a Friday,” said Rhea Drozdenko about her and her friend’s Rich Mackin’s matching outfits.

The show includes 475 artists from around Connecticut – scupltors, photographers, jewelers, painters, digital artists, cartoonists, and designers. “It’s wonderful. It’s hot. It’s crowded. It’s very democratic,” said Richmond Jones, a political cartoonist, designer, and photographer, whose photographs are on display at Artspace.

Democratic indeed –  outside, the League of Women Voters set up a table beside the noodle booths so that passers-by could register to vote for the mid-term elections. Members Abby Roth and Anne Schenk helped Ann Haberman, who recently moved to Hamden, register.

And neighbors met for the first time…

Deborah Greig and Veneira Bernard, both residents of Westville, encountered each other over a bowl of noodles from Mecha and a slice of pizza from Marco Polo.

“I love the fact that it gets so crowded, that there are so many artists in New Haven,” Bernard said. “It’s a great way to start the weekend.”

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