INDIANAPOLIS — After a successful first run last summer, "Friends of 38th Street" has decided to continue its family-friendly event "Blues & BBQ on 38th" annually.
The Friends of 38th Street's Blues & BBQ event returns to the north side on Saturday, August 27. It's one of several events organized by the nonprofit with the intent of bringing Indianapolis' north side neighborhoods along 38th Street, known as Midtown, closer together.
"Just kind of be together and celebrate these neighborhoods that we live in," Christie Luther-Hurst, a member of Friends of 38th Street, told WRTV.
Friends of 38th Street was founded in 2021. Nearby residents and business owners came together to create the nonprofit organization to advocate for safety, preservation, and improvements to 38th Street, the main artery of east and west transportation through the north side. Luther-Hurst says Friends of 38th Street is focused on the stretch of 38th Street between Marian University and the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Luther-Hurst has lived in the area for over 10 years. She says Friends of 38th Street formed because of a lack of representation for the area.
"There wasn't a sense of ownership for the success of the businesses and neighbors who either operate on or live near 38th Street," Luther-Hurst said.
CONNECTED COMMUNITIES: Filling the gaps in Indy's biking, pedestrian infrastructure
The group's first order of business is to create ways to bring neighborhoods on both sides of 38th Street — such as the Meridian Street Historic District, Butler-Tarkington, Golden Hill, Crown Hill, and the Historic Watson Park (to name just a few) — together.
"It's a major thoroughfare. It serves to kind of divide these historic and beautiful neighborhoods. And, so we're organizing events to bring neighbors together," Luther-Hurst said.
Second, Friends of 38th Street wants to slow the speed of traffic on the street.
"We're the only organization that is sort of singularly focused on that," Luther-Hurst said.
Later this year, Friends of 38th Street plans to start monitoring 38th Street, collecting data about the traffic speeds. They're hoping that after this process, they will get "a real understanding of what the problem is" in what they believe is a dangerous stretch of 38th Street.
"Traffic speeds on this part of 38th Street can get pretty dangerous," Luther-Hurst said. "We're losing lives to excessive speeds and accidents on 38th Street."
Blues & BBQ, Cars & Gravy & Pop-Ups
From 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, August 27, the Friends of 38th Street's Blues & BBQ on 38th event will be at the old Chase bank at the corner of 38th Street and Washington Boulevard, located at 215 E. 38th St .
Three blues bands will play live music, including the Governor Davis Band, TD Boogie, and Rebekah Meldrum Band. In addition, there will be food by Hank's Smoked Brisket, Pa & Ma's Backyard BBQ, and Sweet Potato Catering. There will also be drink and dessert vendors at the event as well.
"Last year, I think we had between 500 and 1,000 people show up from both sides of 38th Street. It was just a really great, really great crowd," Luther-Hurst said. "We're hoping for good weather and a good turnout again this year."
Outside of the Blues & BBQ event, Friends of 38th Street also hosts a Cars & Gravy event on the third Saturday of every month. Luther-Hurst says this free monthly event is becoming a favorite for the area.
"That's developed a bit of a cult following, and it has a great turnout. And then we serve biscuits and gravy and coffee," Luther-Hurst said.
In November, Friends of 38th Street also hosts the "Turkey Trot" at Crown Hill Cemetery. The 5K run is on Thanksgiving morning. In December, the group is hosting "Lights on 38th Street" over the holidays.
"The neighbors, they certainly appreciate these sort of opportunities to get together. We've had a number of...neighbors step forward to say they'd like to volunteer to, you know, to help out with Friends of 38th Street events and activities," Luther-Hurst said.
If you'd like to join Friends of 38th Street, volunteer, or learn more about their mission and events, visit friendsof38th.org.
WRTV Digital Reporter Shakkira Harris can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @shakkirasays.