by Melanie Camp
It’s not like anyone needs an excuse to hit up Venice Beach when the temperature pushes past 80 degrees, but this year’s Abbot Kinney Festival provided an extra incentive, pulling in a crowd that crammed the mile-long stretch of the world-famous Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
The festival, is now in its 32nd year. However, for Kimo Cornwell of the legendary jazz-fusion band Hiroshima, this year was his first Abbot Kinney Festival. “Every other year I’ve been on the road,” he says. He and his wife Debbie, who both live in Venice, had cycled to the event. Debbie joked she’d like the bike valet to stay after the festival. “It makes it so easy. I ride my bike here every year.”
Artists, voter registration booths, and food trucks lined the road that was blocked off to cars for a pedestrian takeover. The Boulevard’s eclectic boutiques, artisan eateries, and influential art galleries all had tents, adding to the local flavor.
Outside The Modern Dog an inflatable kiddie pool had been filled with water. “I love that the festival is dog-friendly but I worry when it gets this hot,” says store manager, Taya. Furry Venice locals made a beeline to the pool, dipping paws, taking a sip. Charles Barkley (the pit bull not the other one) plopped into the water to cool down.
Taya says the festival “brings a lot of people who aren’t acquainted with Abbot Kinney and all the unique stores.” Each year the popular dog boutique uses the festival to give a little extra love to the local talent they represent.
Like Ashley Shoshan, the woman behind Seiba collars and leashes. Shoshan has a Fair Trade partnership with 10 women in a small Town in Chiapas Mexico. The women weave the collars – as well as the matching friendship bracelets for pawrents. “I initially started working with 4 women, now there’s 10.” The arrangement has empowered the woman to successfully run their own business.
Social impact is important to Shoshan. She also believes in supporting local artisans. All the leatherwork is done in Los Angeles. The product’s swing tags are biodegradable and contain wildflower seedlings that sprout as the paper tags breakdown. The company also supports Los Angeles charities, NKLA and Canine Connected.
“I just love what Ashley does,” says Taya. A hippie at heart, Taya says she thinks the festival is a “beautiful way for the community to celebrate one another. Everyone is smiling. It feels good. I love it, but I’m a big kid,” as she heads off to get a hose and refill the puppy pool.