The 50th Inman Park Festival highlights this eclectic neighborhood

The Inman Park Festival is April 22-24. (Courtesy of: Karen Heim/Inman Park Parade Festival)

Two miles east of downtown Atlanta is the city’s first planned residential suburb, Inman Park. Krog Street Market, Little Five Points, Variety Playhouse and Revolution Donuts are just a few of Atlanta’s treasures in this eclectic neighborhood. After two years of cancellation, the 50th Inman Park Festival and Tour of Homes is back with a weekend of music, artists, markets and entertainment. It’s the Southeast’s largest street art festival. Karen Heim organizes the Inman Park Festival Parade, and she joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom along with Susan Clifton, creator of the Big Mask Project featured in the parade each year.

Dating back to 1972, the Inman Park Festival originally began in coordination with a major planned renovation of the now-historic homes of the neighborhood. “When we say renovating, I mean, some had holes in the floors,” said Heim. “As this courageous group of pioneers started the renovation, they invited their friends and neighbors to come and see their neighborhood revitalization, and that’s how it started.”

Since its beginnings, the festival has put a spotlight on the charm of this unique neighborhood and its residents. Visitors can admire the beautiful Queen Anne and Romanesque style architecture in the Tour of Homes. There will also be booths showcasing works by local artists, performances by renowned musicians, and several dance performances.

One especially notable figure graced the Inman Park Festival for several recent years before his passing: Congressman John Lewis, who made a tradition of riding through the parade in a 1964 Ford Falcon. 

This year, a highlight of the parade will be Susan Clifton’s Big Mask Project, though the credit for its origins goes in no small measure to her son Paul, who wanted to make a big mask for a costume. “We had such fun making that big mask together that when I came into a quantity of large flat-screen TV boxes, I decided to start making big masks myself,” said Clifton. 

Parade volunteers young and old will don Clifton’s giant homemade masks and delight onlookers with their bright colors and wacky representations of things like puppies, dragons, and even an angler fish. “I love the ‘Golden Girl…’ She’s a big, happy smiling girl with yellow curls and lots of makeup, kind of a party girl. So she’s a lot of fun,” Clifton said. “‘Chicken Head’ kind of speaks to our angst in these times,” she added enigmatically.

Among the attractions not to be missed at the Inman Park Festival, performers this year include Puddles’ Pity Party, Michelle Malone, the Swimming Pool Q’s, and Balalaika Fantasie – a sextet performing Ukrainian folkloric music. Visitors can also peruse the wares of countless street vendors offering home goods, arts and crafts, artisan food products, and plenty to munch and sip while enjoying the festivities. 

The 2022 Inman Park Festival takes place Friday through Sunday, April 22-24. More on this year’s festival can be found here