By Rick Winterson

The 22nd South Boston Street Fest provided five full hours of non-stop festivities.

Between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, more than 80 local artists, merchants, and South Boston organizations of all kinds attracted thousands of visitors from all over South Boston and the surrounding communities. Dozens of booths lined East Broadway between the blocks of I and L streets, along with a small curlicue onto K Street to complete this lineup.

Shopping, great food, many children’s activities, and continuous live entertainment on two stages were offered by the Fest. Led by the South Boston Chamber of Commerce and the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation (SBNDC), a number of agencies, businesses, and generous individuals had come forward to support the Fest’s activities.  And the 22nd Street Fest was blessed with absolutely superb weather all day long.

The 2022 South Boston Street Fest opened promptly at 11 a.m. with a rendition of our National Anthem. Shortly thereafter, the stage in front of the library became the scene of a presentation – the Chamber and SBNDC had selected Susan Devlin as the recipient of this year’s Thomas J. Butler South Boston Small Business Leadership Award. Susan is a successful small businesswoman here; her salon, Nurture, on L Street has arrived at its 20th year. She is a spirited community member as well, with numerous activities and much successful fundraising to her credit.

Congressman Stephen Lynch opened the award ceremony.  Rep. David Biele, City Councilors-at-Large Michael Flaherty and Julia Mejia, Mayor Michelle Wu, and City Council President Ed Flynn were on hand. Flynn and Biele presented Susan with city and state certificates of recognition, and then Flaherty and SBNDC Executive Director Donna Brown conferred the Butler Award upon Susan. Susan’s acceptance speech was brief and humbly spoken – she expressed her profound gratitude for being recognized and promised that she would continue her support of our community in the future.

That “triumvirate” of fine South Boston artists exhibited at the Fest – Dan McCole, Norm Crump, and Deb Putnam. Each of them has developed truly creative ways of picturing South Boston artistically. When you experience their work, you not only appreciate its beauty, you often get a memory of actually having seen each scene in the past – recently or perhaps quite long ago.

Many of the Fest’s booths vended excellent food. Publico sold topnotch burgers on one corner of K Street and East Broadway; the Sausage Guy was on the opposite corner. Both had delicious offerings, of course – maybe it was intentional that they were separated by Peter Welch’s Gym booth on K Street itself. And the gumbo from Hunter’s Kitchen – straight from New Orleans, but even spicier!

We won’t try to list or describe all of the booths, activities, and individuals staffing them. Johnny Tempesta was at Tempco Roofing; HUB Church told us their Sunday services are now being held at the Ollie; Michael Caputo presented five talented performers on stage; Friends of the Library sold used books to support library programs; the Castle Island Association had a membership table; CLT Method’s booth was all red; SPOKE was offering after-school jobs; and there was an extensive exhibit that dealt with the advantages of solar power (did you know that just one acre of forest will remove 160 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere each year?). And we’ll repeat all the great activities at the Fest for the kids– pirates, medieval beauties, balloon twisters, acrobatic dancers, football tossing, and so on.

It seems only fitting that Saturday’s Street Fest featured the Thomas Park quintet in its closing hour from 3 4 p.m. Thomas Park played an hour-long set evoking this writer’s memories of Creedence and John Fogarty (did you ever consider how rock influenced country, and then was itself influenced in return?). “Sweet Ol’ South Boston” was the set’s high point.

Rep. David Biele (from left), Congressman Stephen Lynch, City Councilor Michael Flaherty, Tommy Butler award winner Susan Devlin, City Council President Ed Flynn, City Councilor Julia Mejia, Mayor Michelle Wu, and SBNDC Executive Director Donna Brown pose after bestowing the award to Susan.

Susan Devlin speaks after receiving the Tommy Butler award.

The Rare exhibit.

Norm Crump’s achingly beautiful South Boston beach scene at sunrise.

The sand dune on M Street beach, created by South Boston’s Deb Putnam.

Watercolorist Dan McCole depicts an Irish migrant family “Going into Exile.”