NuLu Fest celebrates 10 years on Saturday, Sept. 29. | Courtesy of NuLu Fest

To mark a decade, organizers of NuLu Fest have booked more music, more art vendors, more booze, more food trucks and more family-friendly activities than ever before. The annual event takes over East Market Street in NuLu at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, and the free party won’t stop until 11 p.m.

Christine Vaughan, a co-producer of NuLu Fest, recalls the first year of the festival.

“We had about 40 vendor booths, it was only on the 700 block, we had one beer vendor and just a few food options,” she says. “We estimate about 8,000 people showed up, and it was supposed to go from 5 to 11 p.m., but we had to shut down early due to really bad rain and high winds. But the day was still amazing, and here we are 10 years later.”

NuLu Fest co-producer Christine Vaughan with Gill Holland | Courtesy of NuLu Fest

In comparison, this year’s NuLu Fest will be three blocks long and have 175 vendor booths, six beer vendors, several other adult beverage options (Coopers’ Craft bourbon and Deep Eddy vodka are sponsors) and seven bands. Organizers are expecting more than 30,000 people.

A core group of about 12 people help bring the festival to fruition each year, along with the NuLu Business Association, and Vaughan says the mission has remained the same since Day 1.

“We have always wanted to better the NuLu neighborhood and showcase what it has to offer,” she explains. “The area has grown so much in the last 10 years, and the festival still gives NuLu businesses preference in the festival and invites all NuLu Business Association members to have a seat on the committee if they want to help plan it.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge of planning an outdoor festival is the weather, and so far, it looks like it’ll be a fine fall day on Saturday with 0 percent chance of rain — fingers crossed — and a high of 72 degrees.

For Vaughan and the other organizers, there are many more hours of prep work they’ll put in this week, but once festivities begin, it will all be worth it.

Vaughan says her favorite part of the day is near the end when the headliners are on stage. “I go to the back of the stage and look out over the crowd and think, ‘Wow, I helped to do this. I helped to get these people here, this band here, these vendors here, and helped make all this happiness happen.’ It is my little moment to take it all in.”

NuLu Fest schedule:

  • 3 p.m. — Evan & Vanessa
  • 4 p.m. — Comforter
  • 5 p.m. — Bendigo Fletcher
  • 6 p.m. — Shake Anderson & His All-Stars
  • 8 p.m. — Zach Longoria Project
  • 9 p.m. — Scott T. Smith with Ben Sollee
  • 10 p.m. — James Lindsey

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."