What to Expect: Something in the Water Festival

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Pharrell Williams appeared with Mayor Muriel bowser during an April 26 press conference at Ballou High School to announce the SITW festival would be held in DC. Screenshot [detail]: Twitter/@MayorBowser

Something big is happening in DC next weekend.

The Something in the Water festival will take place from June 17 to 19 on Independence Avenue and will feature more than 50 artists including Pharell Williams, Justin Timberlake and Usher. 

While city officials say they are unsure of the exact number of people coming to the festival, they say that they expect it to be “well attended” by both District residents and others from out of state. 

In celebration of DC Values week, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) hosted a press conference regarding upcoming events in the District and plans for the festival. 

“These are the types of events that represent our values,” Bowser said. “And it is a part of why being, living, working and visiting Washington DC is such an incredible and unique experience.” 

Traffic, Parking and Transportation 

City officials strongly encourage the use of public transportation for the festival as several road closures and parking restrictions will be in effect throughout the week beginning June 13. 

Events DC, a partner in coordinating the Something in the Water Festival, said they are working with community organizations and neighbors to ensure minimal disruption to the residents of Southwest DC. 

“Events DC works to attract events that bring positive cultural and economic benefits to our nation’s capital,” the organization said. “At the same time, we are mindful of the impact that events at our venues have on our surrounding communities. For each event, we work closely with community stakeholders, event organizers, promoters, and other District agencies to mitigate any negative impacts including excessive noise, traffic and waste.” 

Noise Control 

An Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festival at the RFK grounds sent shockwaves (and soundwaves) through many of the District’s neighborhoods and even into parts of Maryland. While the surrounding area’s noise was attributed to a unique set of weather conditions, the noise carried significantly further than expected. 

Events DC, a partner in the production of the Something in the Water Festival, told the HillRag that while they work to bring events like these music festivals to the District, they are aware of the impact that these events have on neighboring communities and are working with community organizations to ensure minimal disruption and negative impacts on Washingtonians. 

“Our Community Engagement team uses decibel meters to monitor sound levels in neighborhoods surrounding our venues and communicate with event organizers to make necessary adjustments,” the organization said. “Regarding the noise from day-two of the Project GLOW Festival on May 1, it was widely reported that noise traveled abnormally far due to an unusual weather phenomenon. We did not experience this issue during day one of the festival or during the events that immediately preceded and followed it, the National Cannabis Festival and Broccoli City Festival, respectively.” 

Public Safety 

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Robert Contee addressed the multiple events and planned first amendment activity in the District and emphasized that “multi layered planning and coordination is nothing new” for MPD. 

Patience, Contee said, is key for mitigating crime in traffic and in large crowds. “You have to pack your patience if you want to come and enjoy these events here in our city because we’re not going to tolerate foolishness,” Contee said. He also said that attendees of any event “should not think to bring firearms” into the District. 

Bowser encouraged all DC residents to enjoy the upcoming festivities while remaining cautious and aware of their surroundings. She emphasized that DC residents are an integral part of crime mitigation given their power in numbers. 

“There are literally thousands upon thousands of us out there on the streets that can help us keep each other safe,” Bowser said. 

Bowser emphasized that “we don’t live in fear” and said that her message to Washingtonians is that the District is working hard to be “as prepared as humanly possible” from a public safety perspective.

DC residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertDC to stay up to date on all public safety, traffic and other city updates. You can learn more about the festival lineup, schedule and purchase a 3-day pass here.  

Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.