Oct 4, 2010: Celebrating the Life of John Harrod

A celebration of the life of John Harrod, executive director of Market 5 Gallery and the non-food outdoor markets at Eastern Market, will be held 7 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, October 9, in the market North Hall, 7th Street and N. Carolina Ave. SE. The public is invited to attend and to contribute.

The celebration for Harrod, who died August 23, was announced recently by board members and friends of Market 5 Gallery, the non-profit community arts organization which brought life back to the North Hall, previously closed to the public for many years, and served the Capitol Hill community for 35 years, from 1973 through 2008.

"Under John's leadership the gallery directly supported thousands of people and enticed literally millions to Eastern Market. I was one of those," said Tom Rall, who contracted with the gallery in 1984 to develop The Flea Market at Eastern Market on Sundays.

"Inside the building, the gallery supported hundreds of performing and visual artists and youth education students through the years," Rall continued. "But its biggest contribution was undoubtedly the revival of the non-food outdoor markets.

"The Saturday Market Festival, an arts and crafts show, was already well established as a supplement to the historic "Market Day" outdoor Farmers Line when we started to develop the flea market on Sundays, a day on which Eastern Market was essentially deserted," Rall said. "Ultimately the outdoor markets grew to serve hundreds of exhibitors and to attract hundreds of thousands of customers every year on weekends.

"John Harrod himself was amazed by what Eastern Market had become--a place not only maintaining an historic function vital to its local community, but also a regional economic incubator of many small businesses, some of which supported whole families on other continents; a place voted 'the best place to take an out of town visitor;' a place with a positive national and international reputation," Rall continued. "That he spawned the creation of all this from a funky hall without heat or air conditioning, without plumbing and rest rooms; and that he did it on a shoe string budget is testimony in itself to his legacy."

Planning for the celebration is being led by long time Market 5 Gallery Associate Director Diane Freeman (202-631-7728) and her daughter Wendy Freeman-Jones (202-546-4622).

The celebration "will be fun. John loved gallery parties and entertainment," promised Freeman. "There will be food, performances and dancing."

No admission will be charged but contributions will be welcomed at the door and by mail. Educator and Story Teller Vera Cummings, a long time friend and patron of the gallery, has offered her non-profit, tax-exempt corporation to accept contributions for the event. Checks should be made to Oye' Polava Hut, with a notation for the celebration, and sent c/o Wendy Freeman Jones, 415 M St. NE, Washington, DC 20002.

Photographs of Harrod and Gallery activities can be found here.
A 2009 interview with John Harrod here.

In our last newsletter, we reported on an ongoing Huffington Post poll of the best flea markets in the world, which at the time ranked The Flea Market at Eastern Market number 7. As of today, we're now ranked second. We'd like to be first.

Please vote here.