Arabbers (n. pl.): Webster’s doesn’t define them. Even the Urban Dictionary doesn’t define them. But at the south and west entrances of the Festival, you can see and hear them for yourselves.
Historically, this particular brand of street vendor sells fresh fruit and vegetables from a decorated horse-drawn cart, singing out songs to attract customers. The 200-year-old practice began in the first US cities and now barely exists only in Baltimore, where Tyrone Diggs-Bay and his family carry on the fruit-slinging tradition. And once a year they bring the operation, minus the horses, down to DC for the Festival.
Hear some of Tyrone’s songs and the story and joy of his fruitful profession:Festival Audio – Call of the Arabber Fruit Vendors
See also: In Memoriam: Remember Walter Milton “Teeth” Kelly, former fellow Arabber
Elisa Hough is a web production intern at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. She holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from the University of Southern California and likes watermelon okay but really loves mangoes.